Whenever my boyfriend David and I told people that we were moving into San Francisco‘s Dogpatch neighborhood, we usually got three different responses:
“Oh! You will be near Just For You Cafe! They have the best beignets.”
“OK, listen to me, this is important. You must go to Just For You Cafe and get the beignets!”
With so many recommendations, expectations were high for Just For You Cafe, which is also known as Mabel’s. It did not disappoint. In fact, our first week in our new place, David and I ate at Just For You Cafe three times, hitting the restaurant for brunch, dinner and a happy hour.
Our first visit to Just For You was a sunny Sunday morning. We invited our good buddy Kate to join us. We strolled down a few blocks and saw the crowd gathered out front. The location is small, and Just For You Cafe is a brunch hot spot. You will wait for a table for brunch. No doubt. Luckily, the restaurant sets up a free self-service coffee pot on the sidewalk for waiting brunchers. We had to put our name on a list, and we sipped coffee in the sun. We had to wait about 20 or 30 minutes, but we didn’t mind.
There are so many tasty-sounding items on the menu, it was difficult to pick just one. We agreed that beignets were a top priority.
Now, I’m not a beignet expert. I know it’s a square fried piece of dough covered in powdered sugar. I don’t think I’d ever ordered them before. David and Kate, however, are definitely connoisseurs. I found the beignets to be heavenly. These little powder sugar dough pillows are like crack to me now. They are in my blood. I would not be the least bit surprised to find there’s an episode of A&E’s “Intervention” that focuses on someone’s addiction to these beignets. David proclaimed Just For You Cafe’s beignets to be the best he has eaten outside of New Orleans. In fact, they might be better. High praise indeed.
The rest of the brunch was amazing as well. I went with the Crabby Bennie with a Creole crab cake on toast with hollandaise sauce and home fries. Of course, I got a mimosa, which they serve in a pint glass (!) for $6.95. Happy, happy. Joy, joy. David followed up sugary beignets with some sweet French toast, while Kate ordered Greg’s Scramble — scrambled eggs with spinach, onions, garlic and topped with parmesan cheese. Even the toast was great! They baked their own bread on site. We were too full for words after brunch.
Just For You Cafe’s brunch is famous in San Francisco, but most people do not realize that the restaurant recently started serving dinner just three nights a week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So on Wednesday evening, even though we had just eaten there days before, David and I wandered back down to Just For You to check out the dinner menu. Unlike the Sunday morning brunch, there was no wait at all, which is a shame because the Cajun-inspired dinner is delicious.
I opted for the seafood gumbo — shrimp, calamari, fish and andouille sausage served over rice with garlic bread. Not only was it a terrific dinner, the portion was so big, it made for an excellent lunch the next day. David got the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and veggies. To say he likes it is an understatement. He has ordered it several times on return visits. I also highly recommend the fried shrimp po’ boy and the hot hush puppies. Yummy!
The following Friday night, David and I were walking to the 20th Street Muni train stop to go to the Giants game at AT&T Park, when we noticed that Just For You Cafe had an amazing happy hour that we couldn’t pass up. Wednesday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Just For You offers $2 beers, half-priced mimosas, $2 tacos, $2empanadas , $2 appetizer specials and a $6 Creole sampler of red beans and rice, jambalaya and shrimp creole. You can’t say no to $2 beers! We sipped our beer and munched on chicken tacos andempanadas, which also came with a little salad. Our happy hour snack turned into dinner.
I should mention that there is parking everywhere. Whether you go to Just For You for brunch or dinner, you will find parking. Also, it’s a mere two miles from the ballpark. If you are coming into SF for a game, you could park there, have some scrumptious food and take the Muni train to the game.
I don’t know if I can count how many times we have returned to Just For You Cafe, and we have only be living in the neighborhood for a little more than a month. We love walking down there for a quiet dinner during the week. The waitstaff is very friendly and attentive and always quick to offer a recommendation. We love bringing guests there for beignets on the weekends. I can’t recommend this place enough. The prices are more than reasonable, and the portions are sizable. Most importantly, the food is wonderful.
Just For You Cafe
732 22nd Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Hours: Monday and Tueday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Saturday and Sun 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.