Food & Drink

The 11 Most Essential Brunch Spots in the East Bay

Published On 01/06/2016 Published On 01/06/2016

We've already clued you in to SF’s best brunches of 2015, but what about the East Bay? As it turns out, there's a multitude of spots serving up Bloodies, biscuits, and buttermilked brunches just waiting to be discovered by you and your Sunday morning motley crew of otherwise highly respectable pals. To wit:

Flickr/Sharon Hahn Darlin

900 Grayson

West Berkeley

Order the Demon Lover chicken and waffles with gravy or you may cause a rupture in the space-time-brunch continuum. The dish is bursting with spiced gravy goodness and will make your hangover that much more bearable. If you can’t hang with fried food before noon, try, oh say, anything else on the entire menu. It’s the fresh, organic vibe that characterizes the Bay Area food scene (although it's only open Saturday for brunch).

Flickr/Thomas Hawk

Bette’s Oceanview Diner

Ocean View (& other locations)

This retro diner has been reelin’ ‘em in since 1982 with vintage decor and perfectly executed breakfast classics. Throw down your name (there will be a wait), stroll the 4th St district, then loosen your belt buckle when your number’s up. Play tunes on the record-playing jukebox, and try not to cry with happiness when you eat the souffle pancakes served with real maple syrup.

Boot & Shoe Service

Boot and Shoe Service

Oakland

Looking to impress your overnight date? Bring them here. The cocktail menu, house-made pastries, and laid-back vibe complement the fantastic food created by Oakland restaurant whiz, Charlie Hallowell. Snag a braised pork belly confit sandwich with souffled eggs, spicy onion jam, and aioli while you soak up the scene inside or on the back patio. After the food party, walk to a matinee at the Grand Lake Theatre and hear the organ roar.

Grand Lake Kitchen

Grand Lake Kitchen

Lake Merritt (& other locations)

The food at GLK, like the Lake Merritt scenery, is bitchin' -- go for the savory French toast or the chilaquiles. It’s a bit cramped on the inside (as well as the front patio), so the sidewalk wait always looks like a mid-morning street party is taking place... which is admittedly half the fun.

Work It, Berk/Thai Temple Brunch

Thai Buddhist Temple brunch

South Berkeley

The Sunday brunch at the Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple is a Berkeley tradition. For over two decades, the temple has opened its gates to serve authentic Thai food to the hippies, academics, and hipsters/yuppies/"whatever you want to call thems" of the East Bay. Exchange your cash for tokens, and trade those for food from the endless street-food stalls full of curries, noodles, veggie delights, desserts, and more.


 

Lungomare

Lungomare

Jack London Square

The modern Italian food is great, but the views are sublime. The waterfront location has a prime seat overlooking JLS and the harbor. The interior is contemporary and classy, there’s a full bar in case you want to start drinking on Tokyo time, and there are kick-ass seasonal breakfast options. Parents in town? Bring 'em here. After, cruise to SF on the ferry and soak in the glory of the Bay.

Michel Bistro

Michel Bistro

Grand Lake (& other locations)

This French restaurant is a food-lover's favorite that serves an unparalleled brunch. Feeling bold? Bison tartar will take care of that. Feeling cheesy? A decadent croque-madame is yours. Feeling saucy? Sinful cocktails will make you forget it’s not even noon yet.

La Note

La Note

Downtown Berkeley

The back patio is perfect for sunny-day mimosa sessions over a plate of lemon gingerbread pancakes with poached pears. In the colder months, stay cozy inside while gearing up for hibernation mode with the decadent Provençal dishes.

Nido

Nido

Jack London District (& other locations)

What makes Nido so great? For starters, the shipping-container decor, Mexican folk-art flair, and freaking delicious food that will have you coming back each weekend. The fare is traditional Mexican done farm-to-table style, and it’s full of flavor and originality. If your friends have never heard of this spot, introduce them immediately and they'll likely buy you a drink for your sagacious brunch wisdom. And if you happen to go on a Sunday, stroll a few blocks to the farmers’ market after.

Rick & Ann's

Rick and Ann’s

Claremont (& other locations)

Once you have the red-flannel hash (sweet potato, bacon, new potato, beets, and red onion), you’ll be hooked. Also, the charming tree-lined street is a great place to hang while waiting for a table indoors (or out).

Sequoia Diner

Sequoia Diner

Laurel District (& other locations)

Quaint and glorious, with an old-school counter and a very chill dining area. The chefs have put their heart and soul into everything, and they have the fan club to prove it. This spot serves all the usual brunch staples (omelets, biscuits & gravy, granola, etc.), as well as Highwire coffee to help balance out those mimosas.

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Annie Crawford is a freelance writer eating all the good food in Oakland, CA. Follow her at @ReinaAnnie.

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1. 900 Grayson 900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710 (Berkeley)

This quirky West Berkeley cafe is perfect for lazy weekend brunches and creative comfort food fare. Chicken and waffles (known on the menu as the Demon Lover) are its main draw, but 900 Grayson's burgers, Belgian waffles, and benedicts are equally delicious. This being Berkeley, 900 Grayson keeps it weird with its "Hobbit Lunch," a weekday option of Tolkien-themed dishes.

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2. Bette's Oceanview Diner 1807 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710 (Berkeley)

This Berkeley landmark diner has all the classics (scrambled eggs & Club sandwiches) on lock, but its pancakes are what really stand out. Almost soufflé-like in their fluffiness, these tasty cakes are the stuff breakfast dreams are made of.

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3. Boot & Shoe Service 3308 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610 (Oakland)

Tucked inside an old shoe repair shop in Oakland (the owners kept the name), the folks behind Pizzaiolo are serving up even more of their tasty, wood-fired pies at Boot & Shoe Service. Owner Charlie Hallowell hails from Chez Panisse, so you’ll find pies topped with fresh, local ingredients and dishes like spaghetti with yellowfoot mushrooms, green garlic, nepitella, and breadcrumbs. It also serves up some of the best pies in the East Bay.

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4. Grand Lake Kitchen 576 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610 (Oakland)

The food at GLK, like the Lake Merritt scenery, is fantastic' -- it's a brunch staple thanks to the savory French toast and the life-saving chilaquiles. It’s a bit cramped on the inside (as well as the front patio), so the sidewalk wait always looks like a mid-morning street party is taking place... which is admittedly half the fun. The tastiness continues at dinner with roasted pork belly sandwiches (with pickled fennel and chimichurri) and avocado-topped Dungeness crab toast.

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5. Lungomare 1 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607 (Oakland)

Jack London Square's Lungomare has a few great things going for it. It serves modern Italian food with that Northern California twist (all of the ingredients are sourced from local producers). The waterfront location has prime seating overlooking JLS and the harbor, which means its views are sublime. The interior is contemporary and classy, and it has a pretty awesome brunch with seasonal frittatas and olive oil cakes. Lungomare is definitely the kind of place you take your parents.

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6. Michel Bistro 3343 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA 94610 (Oakland)

This bistro looks to Provence for dish inspirations. That means escargot, bone marrow with brioche, and mussels & fries make up the menu for dinner while pain perdu and omelets are the focus for brunch. The wine list is all French (bien sur!) and the cocktails come French-inspired.

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7. La Note 2377 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704 (Berkeley)

Experience a taste of Provençal at this Berkeley gem. Come in for breakfast where you’ll sip mimosas and caffe lattes while indulging in “oeufs,” omelettes, baguette sandwiches, and light-as-air lemon gingerbread pancakes. This is the perfect spot to spend a relaxing weekend morning reading the newspaper at a table on the back patio. For dinner you’ll find vegetable-filled ratatouille and other French classics like steak frites to satiate yourself.

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8. Nido 444 Oak Street, Oakland, CA 94607 (Oakland)

Set off Jack London Square, this 2-in-1-teraunt is part-Mom's pie counter from the 1950s, part-indoor/outdoor salsa-accented cafe, with exposed concrete walls, sketch drawings, and doors from shipping containers, which you should never, ever open if you're Beadie. The rotating menu offers seasonal flavors such as Mojito Custard, Banana Chai, and Roasted Pumpkin with a chocolate crust!

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9. Rick & Ann's Restaurant 2922 Domingo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705 (Berkeley)

This Berkeley restaurant and diner offers breakfast and lunch in a friendly, comfortable setting. Inspired by the favorite dishes of their childhood, owners Rick and Ann serve classic, fresh dishes that taste just like how mom made 'em.

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10. Sequoia Diner 3719 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619

At this quaint breakfast and lunch spot in Oakland’s Laurel District, the husband-and-wife-team churns out homemade everything –– from the biscuits and jams to the granola and pastries, like danishes and sticky buns. Highwire coffee helps balance out those mimosas you'll drink while choosing from the usual suspects, like huevos rancheros, frittatas, and waffles, plus some surprises like chicken liver toast and smoked rockfish and corn chowder.

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11. Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple 1911 Russell St, Berkeley, CA 94703 (Berkeley)

The Sunday brunch at the Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple is a Berkeley tradition. For over two decades, the temple has opened its gates to serve authentic Thai food to the hippies, academics, and hipsters/yuppies/"whatever you want to call thems" of the East Bay. Exchange your cash for tokens, and trade those for food from the endless street-food stalls full of curries, noodles, veggie delights, desserts, and more.

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