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Why Cafe Jacqueline San Francisco is a best kept Secret you need to know about

What is that you say? You love French food? In your opinion, Soufflés are one of the greatest creations of humankind? Well, then. You’re in store for a treat. You see, I also love both French cuisine and a delicate, fluffy, luscious Soufflé. Accordingly, I’m always on the hunt for restaurants that serve these velvety gems. Little did I know that a tiny, independently owned Soufflé making treasure was hiding in plain sight in San Francisco. I present to you: Cafe Jacqueline.

A little bit of history about Cafe Jacqueline

Even after years of living in San Francisco and trekking around North Beach on foot, I had no idea Cafe Jacqueline existed. Besides being a tiny little establishment on Grant street, Cafe Jacqueline also has no website, social media or digital reservation system of any kind.

That’s correct.

If you find out about Cafe Jacqueline on the inter webs, its likely from one of the usual restaurant review platforms, major publications or independent writers such as myself.

Cafe Jacqueline Storefront entrance on Grant Ave
The star of the show – the chefs bowl of eggs, usually piled very high at the start of the day

Deep in the heart of the bustling North Beach neighborhood, Jacqueline Margulis has created something beautiful. In the fall of 1979, at 45, she took over the space that is now Cafe Jacqueline, formerly a shoe store.

If you are someone who craves familiarity or enjoys the comfort of nostalgia, you will appreciate Cafe Jacqueline. Since opening her Soufflé haven she has changed very little. The walls are the same color as they were when she opened her doors. Her assistant chef whom helps her prep has been with her for decades – almost forty years. Her head waiter, whom recommended the most divine wine to pair with my meal, has been with her since 1994.

It’s a place that’s easy to feel connected to, because when you return, everything will be as you’ve left it. The room. All of the staff. The food.

At the time of writing, Chef Margulis is 87.

How to make a Reservation

You won’t find Cafe Jacqueline on open table. Additionally, the restaurant also has no website. The only way to make a reservation is to call. Though, more than likely, you’ll need to leave a message. Basically, there are only two servers whom work in the front of house and are usually tending to a room full of Guests.

Tip: Cafe Jacqueline’s phone number is (415) 981. 5565. Leave a message clearly stating your name, phone number and when you’re looking to dine at the restaurant.

The Food and Menu at Cafe Jacqueline

While Cafe Jacqueline has an interesting backstory and is run much differently than most modern businesses, the food is why you’re there. Undeniably, the food is what will keep you coming back!

long loaf of sourdough bread in a basket with a tiny cup of butter in a white cup sitting on a white tablecloth
San Francisco’s iconic sourdough bread to begin the meal
Soup du Jour – house made
Cafe Jacqueline’s classic French Onion soup

Cafe Jacqueline was the only restaurant in the USA with a Soufflé focused menu until similar restaurants started popping up in the last several years.

The menu offers a variety of savory and sweet Soufflés that would likely please even the most discerning palette.

Your server will cut and dish you your first serving
Savory Soufflé – Salmon and Asparagus
Cafe Jacqueline’s signature Grand Mariner dessert Souffle

The Soufflés are all made to order. Subsequently, you should allow at least 45 minutes to an hour for each Soufflé course you order. If budget allows, I’d recommend ordering something light like soup to tide you over.

The soups are all made from scratch in house and are scrumptious.

While there are soups, light salads and a couple appetizer options to order (pending availability) the menu is almost entirely Soufflés. We had the Salmon and Asparagus Soufflé as our main dish and their signature Grand Mariner Soufflé for dessert.

Service, Atmosphere and Experience

The dining atmosphere at Café Jacqueline is one that is becoming more and more rare in the US. There are only a handful of tables in the sole dining room. The dimly lit room is aglow mainly from the elegant chandelier overhead.

Freshly cut flowers adorn each table along with a neatly folded napkin.

The intimate dining room
Our tiny, cozy little two top table

Cafe Jacqueline’s full menu

Two tenured servers, polished in collared white button downs and bow ties take care of the entire dining room. However, the service is hardly stuffy. Both gentlemen enjoy chuckling at a cheeky joke and will happily make wine and menu suggestions.

There is a single restroom outside in the garden for Guests. You have to walk through the kitchen to get there. This is where you will likely sneak a peek at Chef Margulis hard at work. When I was returning to my table from the loo, my server introduced me to Jacqueline. She smiled coyly and was quite warm. She graciously declined any pictures be taken of herself, but the restaurant was fine.

Chef Jacqueline Margulis has built a special, cozy enclave in the heart of San Francisco. I truly hope she is making Soufflés for many years to come. Her legacy will certainly live on far beyond.

Know before You Go

It takes a little bit of patience to get a reservation at Cafe Jacqueline, since they only take reservations over the phone. In addition to Jacqueline, there are only two – three employees running the entire show. I left a message and one of the servers got back to me a few days later. Good things come to those whom wait!

Like most places in San Francisco, I recommend not driving your own vehicle. If public transport or ride share isn’t an option, there is street parking available. If you can find a neighboring structure, I recommend parking in a parking structure. Vehicle related crime is unfortunately very high in San Francisco.

Have you been to Cafe Jacqueline? What did you think? If you have any questions about dining here, please drop them in the comments below!

Save this pin for your San Francisco trip planning!

Headed to San Francisco?

Check these out:

Why Cafe Jacqueline San Francisco is a best kept Secret You need to know about

Chateau Tivoli Bed and Breakfast is historical magic in San Francisco

Where to find the best brunch in San Francisco

Acquerello: sensational Northern Italian fine dining in a dreamy milieu

Travel Tips & Resources to Help You Plan an Epic Trip!

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Expedia – If I am looking for a flight to a specific destination for specific dates, I find myself booking many flights on Expedia. It’s user friendly and straight forward. I often find the most cost effective rates, while earning points for every flight I book (in tandem with the points I receive from the credit cards I pay with).

Viator – most of the activities, tours and excursions I book for my trips are booked through Viator. Whether you’re seeking a guide for the day, a group tour, a cooking class, Viator has you covered!

Get Your Guide – this is another great marketplace to find tours, excursions and activities to book for your upcoming trip.

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