There's no meal San Franciscans love more than brunch. We're not saying that's because it's the one meal where drinking before noon is not only tolerated, but encouraged, but... OK, that's exactly what we're saying. But booze alone does not a brunch make. Proverbs aside, we put together this list of the 21 best brunch spots in SF that not only feature spectacular breakfast cocktails but also serve indulgent and rich dishes that are sure to sate your appetite, no matter how many drinks you had the night before.
Rose’s Café Two words: breakfast pizza Brunch at the restaurants along Union and Chestnut Street can get pretty boisterous, which certainly has a time and a place, but when you’re in the mood for a delicious meal without gaggles of walk of shamers spilling their mimosas and rehashing their trysts from a few hours earlier, Rose’s is the perfect spot. The menu offers your standard brunch fare, but with an Italian spin (the breakfast sandwich comes on focaccia and the soft scrambled eggs are served with prosciutto). The best plan is to go with people who want to split a few things, so that you can order the breakfast pizza with smoked ham, fontina, and sunny-side-up eggs. And, if the sun is shining, snag a seat at one of sidewalk tables, if you can.
The Tipsy Pig Keep last night’s party going at this popular brunch spot If you’re looking to restart last night’s party at brunch with a bunch of groups of people who are also looking to restart last night’s party at brunch, this Chestnut Street gastropub is the place to do it. The heated back patio is the place to be, and the drink of choice is always the Strawberry Fields (vodka, fresh strawberries, soda, lime). There are stellar breakfast and lunch options on the menu, but we prefer to get a little of both in the form of the chicken and waffle. It may seem like overkill to also order a side of the thyme and cheddar biscuits with spiced honey butter, but it’s the weekend and carbs don’t count and you should really eat those biscuits any time you have the chance.
Zazie One of SF’s most popular brunches for very good reason Unless you get to Zazie right when it opens at 9am, you’re going to have to wait to be seated. But unlike the lines at some other SF brunch spots, this one is worth waiting in. If you’re feeling especially patient, request a table on the delightful patio and enjoy your Miracle Pancakes, Croque Madame, or Pierre Noir (eggs benedict with bacon, tomatoes provençales, and possibly the best lemon hollandaise in town) in what feels like a secret garden. Like most of the best brunch places in the city, Zazie doesn’t have bottomless mimosas, but they do have “Build Your Own” mimosas where you can get a bottle and a pichet of juice.
The Ramp Sunshine, Bloody Mary’s and waterfront views The Dogpatch seems impervious to San Francisco’s fog, which makes this outdoor patio restaurant on the water a very popular spot. After all, where else can one drink delicious Bloody Mary’s while sitting in the sun nearly every day of the year? The Ramp used to be a bait shop and the menu sticks with that seafood theme, which is the way to order. Brunch ends at 3:30pm, but if you feel like lingering longer, stick around for the live music and dancing that starts shortly thereafter.
Plow American comfort food and the best breakfast potatoes in SF Turns out the key to the most delicious breakfast potatoes you’ll possibly ever eat is to mash them, fry them until they’re brown and crispy, and season them with rosemary and thyme. But even if you tried to do that at home, you’d never get anywhere close to the deliciousness factor of the potatoes that come out of the kitchen at Plow, so just resign yourself to the one to two hour wait and know it will all be worth it in the end. As far as what to order, we recommend you get “The Plow” so that you can get eggs, house made pork sausage patties, those aforementioned potatoes, and two of the famous lemon ricotta pancakes. It’s really your only option.
Zuni Café Go for the pizza and burger you won’t find on the dinner menu You can’t go wrong eating dinner at this beloved bistro, but you also can’t get the house-ground hamburger on rosemary focaccia or thin crust pizza from the wood-fired oven at that time as they’re only served during daylight hours. And though you can get the popular balsamic Bloody Mary any time the restaurant is open, we find it’s best enjoyed during the day, when the bi-level triangular restaurant is filled with sunlight and it’s easy to convince yourself that having another is the best decision you could possibly make. Because it is.
Foreign Cinema The perfect brunch spot for a special occasion Foreign Cinema takes reservations for brunch, which is great news if you’re the kind of person who can plan ahead (even just a few days usually works). You’ll be glad you did when you’re sitting in the open-air courtyard enjoying oysters, house-made “Pop Tarts,” and possibly the best Croque Madame in town (Zazie is a very close second). Of course, no one (who eats meat) brunches at Foreign Cinema without getting the slow-cooked brown sugar smoked bacon, which is salty, sweet, and would almost ruin all other bacon forever if ruining bacon forever were a thing that could happen.
Beretta This indulgent brunch continues to defy all odds by staying under the radar We hate to ruin a good secret (OK, not really since that’s actually our favorite thing to do), but if you’re looking for a brunch with fantastic cocktails, indulgent dishes (which, let’s be real, is what brunch is all about), great service, and little-to-no wait, then hit up this industry hotspot that serves a low-key brunch from 11am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. The obvious thing to order is the carbonara pizza (bacon, two eggs, mozzarella, pecorino, cracked black pepper), but we’re also fans of the French toast and pasta chilaquiles. Beretta is known for its creative cocktails and it has a separate list for brunch, so you’ll want to make you way through that as well.
Tartine Manufactory Mouth-watering pastries in a stunning industrial space There are a two “musts” when visiting the enormous multi-purpose Tartine Manufactory: 1.) Buying a freshly baked loaf of bread to take home and 2.) Eating one of the bakery’s famous morning buns. However, the way in which you “choose your own adventure” through the rest of this coffee shop/bar/bakery/restaurant/ice cream parlor is up to you. Load up on pastries. Savor the coddled eggs. Sip on a Bloody Mary. Indulge in the French Toast. Lick a soft serve ice cream cone. Just don’t ever do it the same way twice.
Nopa Reservations are accepted at this lively spot (but you still have to make them far in advance) Nopa continues to live up to the hype, which is good in that it means it is a worthy brunch destination and bad in that it means everyone else wants to go there too. Pick a Sunday a month out and just make a reservation and plan your weekend around that. It’ll be totally worth it once you’re sitting in the airy space, sipping on a refreshing breakfast cocktail, and knowing that the custard French toast you ordered for the table is destined to arrive any second now. As far as what to order for yourself? This is not the time to get the famous burger that’s available at dinner and late night; go for any of the egg dishes instead.
Comstock Saloon Take indulgence to the next level at this brunch that brunch dreams are made of Set aside any pretense of having a healthy meal before sitting down at this historic saloon because the glory of nearly every single dish on the menu is how over-the-top and delicious it is. It’s hard to choose, but the ones we go back to again and again are the Char Sui Pork Egg Benedict, a play on a dim sum pork bun only way bigger and topped with a poached egg, a lemon hollandaise, and nora chili flakes; the breakfast poutine, a huge plate of fries with whole hog sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheddar smothered in a Szechuan pepper gravy, and the ham and fontina Croque Madame that also comes with that Szechuan gravy and is topped with caviar. While we normally aren’t fans of ordering something at brunch that you can get at dinner, the Comstock Burger with a secret sauce, fontiamerican cheese, and malt vinegar chips (on the burger, not on the side) is the burger that every hangover has ever needed or wanted. Rationalize the decision by adding a fried egg -- something you can’t do if you get it at dinner.
Park Tavern Enjoy a decadent brunch at this lively upscale tavern We love Park Tavern for dinner, but it’s equally as good of a choice for a sophisticated brunch with friends or family. The brunch menu isn’t as extensive as you’ll find at other spots, but whereas that usually helps us narrow down our decision quickly, we experience no such luck here. It’s easy to get everyone to agree to start with an order of deviled eggs, but after that, the negotiating gets a little more difficult. How is a table to choose between butter cake, blueberry fritters, and banana walnut bread? We like to satisfy our sweet cravings with the starters because the savory dishes are where it’s at with the mains. The shrimp and grits is the star, but we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t a struggle to choose between that or the cheesesteak that comes with a side of French dip jus. What are we talking about? Just get both and share.
Marlowe Upscale dishes in a stylish butcher shop-themed space SoMa gets very quiet on the weekends, but Marlowe still draws a crowd for its Sunday brunch. Brunch sees some overlap from the lunch menu, and though we aren’t complaining that the very popular burger and very delicious fried chicken sandwich are available, we tend to skip them in favor of dishes we can only get on Sundays, like the shrimp and crab frittata, angus ribeye and over-easy eggs, and housemade doughnuts. Of course, we still always start with the warm deviled eggs and at least half a dozen oysters. It’s still Marlowe, after all.
Dottie’s True Blue Cafe Show up hungry for the huge portions and house-baked goods Like almost every great brunch spot in SF, you’re going to have to wait to be seated at this tiny diner, but that can be a good thing since you want to be truly ravenous by the time your food arrives. The grilled chili-cheddar cornbread with jalapeno jelly is probably the most popular item on the menu (for good reason), but any of the freshly baked goods are worth your time (and money).
The Saratoga Get the city’s wildest Bloody Mary at this Sunday brunch Sunday brunch gets a little swanky and a lot playful at this sexy cocktail haven in the TL. Whereas we like to sit in the intimate downstairs dining room for dinner, the main level is the place to be during brunch as the room fills with light that sparkles off of the dramatic chandelier. That light helps when it comes to snapping photos of the cream cheese and lox tater tots stacked like Jenga pieces, the mimosa doughnut with “pop rocks,” the divine billionaire’s bacon, and the most photogenic of them all: the “Hail Mary” Bloody Mary, which is topped with so much stuff (a fried pickle, bacon, pickled quail eggs, beef jerky, jalapeno poppers, fried chicken, and poached shrimp) it’s a meal in and of itself.
Brenda’s French Soul Food The best place to go when you’re craving NOLA-inspired soul food When the craving for a mix of Southern, Creole, and French soul food calls, satisfy it at Brenda’s French Soul Food. Yes there will be a line, but don’t let that deter you because the reward for waiting is beignets, bananas foster French toast, fried chicken benedict, biscuits and country sausage gravy, and one of the city’s best hangtown fries. Best of all, brunch is served until 8pm on Sunday, and what better way to end the weekend with a gluttonous breakfast-for-dinner?
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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who frequents Zazie for brunch due to its delicious food and proximity to her afternoon nap. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf to see what she likes to order.