There are only two ways you can go to La Bonne Soupe on 8th Street and not wait in line – one is to go before 11:15 a.m. and the other is to go after 2 p.m. Either way, it’s worth it. Even the wait – I did 30 minutes, twice – is worth it.
When the city shuttered La Bonne Soupe temporarily last October for assorted violations, there was gloom downtown. When it reopened, there was joy. That’s the kind of place this is. We reviewed it before the shutdown. We’re using the re-opening as an excuse to go back.
This is a real French café that wound up in Sacramento four years ago and has delighted the lunch crowd ever since.
The music is French – the first time I went there, “La Vie en Rose” was playing, I swear – the wall art and photos are French, the well-thumbed publications are French. As soon as they walk in, even the customers look French. Love and politics and garlic are in the air.
The onion soup, of course, is unsurpassed. There are cold sandwiches and “gourmet” sandwiches, and the only difference seems to be that the latter are warmed up. All are served on thick, crusty tasty French rolls. Try them all, but here are some we like: the garlic sausage, braised pork, the pate de jour, the fresh salmon, anything with capers, cheese and veggies, and ham and cheese (actually, that’s brie and prosciutto). No single item costs more than $8, and a couple ordering the specials can get out the door for less than $20.
I can usually eat my weight in garlic, but I’ve met my match in La Bonne Soupe. The French garlic sausage is the equivalent of a garlic atom bomb, and the flavor lingers long after the meal is over. Long after. But I’m in the minority: Most who come to La Bonne Soupe especially like the garlic.
Chef-owner Daniel Pont controls every aspect of La Bonne Soupe. He runs, assembles and presents the sandwiches, selects and heats the bread, runs the register and talks food with the customers. All this takes time, and when you’re hungry and waiting in line, you get a little anxious.
All the same, his customers are happy.
When his café closed for three weeks, messages and signs were posted outside by customers.
“Nous t’adorons Chef Daniel,” and “If and when you decide to reopen, we will be waiting for you.”
La Bonne Soupe Café
920 8th Street
Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.