In San Francisco, the city that launched the $4 toast trend, we take breakfast seriously. Some are willing to endure hour-long waits for weekend brunch; others know that weekday mornings—when the crowds thin and the pace slows—are the best time to indulge in the most important meal of the day. Whether you’re in the mood for a no-frills greasy-spoon, a mind-blowing pastry, or just the best damn breakfast sandwich you’ve ever had, San Francisco has a table (and a bottomless mug of coffee) with your name on it.
Best breakfast in San Francisco
Cleveland transplant Adam Mesnick is expanding his culty sandwich empire. This new addition is a casual, diner-style sister space to his SoMa original, DeliBoard. Lines form each morning for the “breakwiches,” heaping breakfast sandwiches filled with your choice of fried or scrambled eggs, cheese, and toppings like sausage, bacon, and avocado. Build your own—on a bagel or roll—or order one of the specialty stackers, like the Kap (scrambled eggs with cherry peppers, fried capicola, and muenster cheese on a sesame roll) or the Grand Papa: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and American cheese, on an onion poppy roll. The bagels are shipped fresh from New York.
This Haight newcomer draws hordes of bike commuters each morning—it’s conveniently located just off the Wiggle. Chef Juliet Orbach comes with a pedigree, having worked at LA hotspots Sqirl and Rustic Canyon. The breakfast menu starts with lighter fare, like an acai bowl (topped with house-made granola and bee pollen) and a coconut chia pudding finished with apricot compote and an almond, date, and sesame crumble. But it’s the heartier morning offerings that are worth the wait. The generous breakfast bowl layers two eggs, avocado, carrots, cabbage, kale, green tahini, and hot sauce over a bed of brown rice, quinoa, and lentils. And the warming shakshuka takes inspiration from Orbach’s Iranian-Persian roots: two poached eggs over a spiced tomato sauce and levain, drizzled with yogurt sauce and herbs.
This Oakland spin-off specializes in Jamaican fare, a welcome departure from your tired three-egg scramble. The vibe is warm and festive, from the reggae jams to the turquoise wishbone bar. Chef and owner Nigel Jones is also the owner of Oakland standby Kingston 11, and the same bold flavors work their magic here. The breakfast offerings are tangy, spicy, and tart, from the jasmine rice bowl topped with fried egg and ginger- and soy-caramelized tofu to the Jamaican breakfast: salt fish, fried dumplings, ackee (Jamaica’s national fruit), and bammy, a Jamaican flatbread.
In the far reaches of the Dogpatch, Noon All Day is a pleasant neighborhood café where you can down salads, bowls and coffee (you guessed it) all day long. Baked by nearby parent restaurant Piccino, the pastries are the highlight, whether you opt for the taro coconut Danish or the not-too-sweet white sesame cookie. While you’re at it, don’t miss the kimchi croissant.
Ryan Blumenthal opened this weekday-only breakfast joint as an homage to his East Coast roots—it’s even named after his New York-bred grandma. Everyone’s here for one thing: The oozing, piping hot fried egg sandwiches, made with cage-free brown eggs cushioned on buttered poppy kaiser rolls. Build your own stack, with eggs, cheddar, pastrami, or applewood smoked bacon, or splurge on specials like the Twenty Five (egg, avocado, tomato, cream cheese, and black olive) or the Horse on the Roof (grilled steak, eggs, provolone, American cheese, and special sauce). Don’t miss the homemade hot sauce.
Escape the Ferry Building’s tourist throngs in this refreshingly refined eatery. Lighting designer Lindsey Adelman’s branching chandeliers glow overhead and the gleaming open kitchen is pristine. The breakfast fare is as upscale as the digs. On the lighter side, the yogurt bowl offers your choice of cow, sheep, or goat milk yogurt and is topped with basil seeds, berries, and rose petal jam. Heartier dishes include the smoked wild king salmon, piled on Meyer lemon toast with a dollop of crème fraîche, and the poached eggs, which are served atop black cocoa beans and braised chard, then finished with a dash of North African sea salt.
For all its multicultural prowess, San Francisco has never done Jewish deli successfully. All that changed in 2012 with the opening of Wise Sons, and you can hear the echo of a million Jewish mothers shouting “mazel tov.” Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman have not only nailed it, but done so in a uniquely Northern California way with reinterpreted classics such as house-smoked pastrami on rye with handmade pickles, just-salty-enough chopped liver, and rich, veggie-filled matzo ball soup (self-deprecatingly described as “not as good as your bubbe's”). For breakfast, choose from a curated variety of bagel flavors, then snag a shmear. Or go for the gold with one of their stacked bagel sandwiches, like the bodega egg and cheese with the added option of crispy pastrami. There's also freshly baked bread to take home, and plenty of Intelligentsia coffee.
With its ample outdoor seating, wood-fired pizza oven, and gorgeously wild floral arrangements, this quaint Italian spot brings a little European charm to the Marina. The stars of the morning menu are the breakfast pizzas, whether laden with smoked ham, fontina, and eggs or smoked salmon and creme fraiche. All the bread is made daily in house—a clear vote for any dish served with toast—as are the pastries. Neighborhood regulars pop in on the way to work for the baked goods, whether the fruit focaccia and sour cream coffee cake or a still-warm ham and cheese croissant.
Portland has Voodoo Doughnut. LA queues for Birdies. And San Francisco has Dynamo. The brainchild of Sara Spearin, who cut her teeth working at spots like Foreign Cinema and Postrio, these flavor-packed dough balls are made with local and organic ingredients. The original Mission shop is still the prime location—it boasts the best selection and an inviting back patio. Load up on everyday favorites like maple bacon apple and vanilla bean, or sample seasonal flavors like buckwheat corn peach, strawberry earl grey, and pineapple basil.
Weekday breakfast is an under-the-radar highlight at this driftwood-paneled Outer Sunset spot. Starting at 9am, neighborhood regulars and Ocean Beach surfers start to congregate, greeting each other by name. Some stick to coffee and the rotating array of inventive baked goods by pastry chef Brooke Mosley; others dig into seasonal spicy-savory breakfast dishes like the “everything” plancha bread (fried egg, goat labneh, avocado, and pickles atop a thick slab of house-made bread) and the cornbread benedict. Most everything on the menu is vegetarian-friendly, but carnivores can add a fried egg or slabs of bacon to any item for two bucks.
This teeny Outer Sunset bakery has a perennial line snaking out the door for cookies, cinnamon buns, limited-edition pies and the ultimate morning-after breakfast. Though the spot serves an assortment of baked goods and sandwiches, the unequivocal highlight is the “special” breakfast sandwich: two eggs, pepper jack cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, avocado, and lemon-garlic aioli served on a homemade buttermilk biscuit. There’s minimal seating inside, dress prepared for chilly weather.