Which restaurants are worth getting out of bed for on a weekend morning? We’ve gathered the best of the brunch bunch. Not in the mood for a full-blown meal? Swing by one of our favorite coffee shops instead to fuel up for a day of shopping, hiking or lazy urban wandering.
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Best brunch restaurants in San Francisco
The brunch fare at this reclaimed wood-covered eatery is worth the trek out to Ocean Beach—and the inevitable wait. (In the meantime, buy a coffee from Trouble down the street.) Eggs in Jail, a feast of eggs, sweet sausage, squash, leeks and chermoula spilling from the center of a thick slice of levain toast, is a house specialty, as are the Frisbee-size, cast iron-baked Dutch pancakes topped with roasted apples, bacon or ricotta. The weekly changing sticky bun makes an enticing appetizer. Top it with bacon, if you desire.
Simply outfitted with gleaming reclaimed wood tables and floor-to-ceiling windows, Plow is a beautiful space to spend a morning. You’ll find standout dishes on the sweet and savory ends of the spectrum, from the legendary lemon ricotta pancakes to the house-made biscuits topped in honey butter, scallions and ham or sausage. (Nab a biscuit while you can—they’ve been known to run out on busy mornings.) Even lighter fare is memorable here, like the chia seed pudding served with almond milk, bananas, coconut, almonds, honey and bee pollen.
Brenda’s is known for its old-school New Orleans charm and Creole classics. The gumbo is loaded with chicken, sausage and okra, and the shrimp and grits come smothered in tomato-bacon gravy. (Of course, fried chicken is a reoccurring star, whether in a Benedict or on a biscuit.) Choose from plain, chocolate, apple or crawfish beignets, all fresh from the fryer.
There’s no wait list here. Instead, pick up one of Dottie’s giant house-made muffins and join the first-come, first-served line trailing out the door. Despite high ceilings and marble countertops, the vibe inside is kitschy and cozy. Likewise, there’s nothing fussy about the food. Eggs are served with a hefty helping of meat, whether it's house-made fennel sausage, merguez lamb sausage or pulled pork tenderloin.
If you're an eggs-and-toast traditionalist, keep walking. But if you're up for trying something a little more refined—say, Thai chilies in your omelette or wild huckleberries on your French toast—then settle into the courtyard at Foreign Cinema, where foreign and independent movies are projected on the wall. (Recent titles include Rebel Without a Cause and The Maltese Falcon.) Start with the organic “pop tarts,” which come in exotic flavors like mango, Fuji apple and kumquat. The spicy Hangover Soup is a meal in itself, incorporating chicken, a poached egg, roasted peppers, jalapeno and harissa broth, lime, croutons and cilantro.
This friendly neighborhood joint serves up breakfast with a side of sass. Of the Hangtown Fry, a plate heaped with cornmeal-battered oysters, bacon, eggs and grits, the menu chides, “If this doesn't cure your hangover, you’d better just go back to bed.” Everything is served with a generous side of homemade jalapeno salsa, which regulars slather liberally across toast, cornbread and biscuits. The menu is an embarrassment of riches: You’ll find three kinds of Benedicts (try the Crabby Bennie), four types of pancakes (buttermilk, cornmeal, oatmeal and buckwheat) and an international line-up of scrambles. They’re not kidding about that hangover, either. The mimosas are served in pint glasses rather than standard flutes.
It’s hard to go wrong here, but if it’s your first time, the choice is clear: Go for the celebrated cheeseburger or the custard French toast. The former is a city classic made with grass-fed beef, house-pickled red onions and homemade ketchup. The latter comes in seasonal iterations like caramelized apples and quince butter, candied citrus with rosemary and blueberries with honey-lemon butter. Whatever the topping of the week, it's a delicious combination of crunchy and chewy—and never too sweet. Snag a spot at one of the long communal tables downstairs or sip one of Nopa’s thoughtfully crafted brunch cocktails (we suggest The Blur, a blend of green Chartreuse, maraschino, lime and cava) while you wait.
It’s hard to beat a great breakfast sandwich, and Mission Beach Cafe stacks up one of the best. It’s composed of a fried egg, caramelized onion, wild mushrooms, white cheddar, potatoes and bacon on a fresh-baked English muffin. Other hits include the sweet potato-apple-butternut squash hash (served vegetarian or with braised Prather Ranch short ribs) and the subtly sweet, lavender-infused French toast. Two words: bourbon syrup.
Sit at the counter for a view of the skilled spatula-slingers manning the griddle. This narrow diner serves giant, steaming portions of food for under $10. It’s an egg lover's dream, offering all manner of omelettes, scrambles and Benedicts. The specialty is Eggs in a Tasty Nest, which layers two over-easy eggs atop a heap of hash browns, bacon, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic and cheddar.
On warm days there’s a late-morning rush for a spot on Zazie’s glorious back patio. The multipage menu lists the classics as well as more creative spins. Skip the scrambles for one of six variations on eggs Benedict, like the La Mer, piled with Dungeness crab, avocado and green onions. On the sweet side, gingerbread pancakes are a year-round favorite, as well as the stuffed French toast. Concoct your own mimosas with orange, mango, cranberry or grapefruit juice.