SF is great at a lot of things: iconic bridges, unreliable weather, Batkid. But if there's one thing SF is really, REALLY great at, it's brunches. And if there's one thing we're really, REALLY great at, it's putting together lists of the best brunches in SF. So here they are.
Serving brunch every day means they've had the chance to perfect their craft, so grab an alcoholic milkshake (yep) and then grab The Mission-approved Red Flannel Hash, which consists of beef short rib, Kennebec potato, baby beets, arugula, caramelized onion, poached egg, chowchow, and maple syrup. Orrrrrr grab the burger with bacon jam.
Start out with a Maven Julius (orange, milk, vanilla, malt, and 5 Island Rum), then another one, then the Duck Hash with a fried duck egg and sofregit. It's so-legit.
Get a cocktail (literally anything with the Douglas Fir Eau De Vie), get their avocado toast (seeded whole wheat, chile, lemon, sea salt), then get any of the entrees (and by "any of the entrees", we mean the fried duck egg sandwich with Nueske’s bacon, avocado, frisée, and green garlic pesto).
Dottie's is one of San Francisco's few diner experiences where you'll actually want to eat the pastries (because they're freshly made and mind-blowing), but in particular, get the house-made cinnamon pecan roll and the pecan French toast.
You need reservations at this super-popular spot. Like, State Bird Provisions-style need them. You also need bottomless mimosas, and absolutely, unequivocally the chicken and waffles.
Lower Pac Heights
The best possible reason to slum it in Lower Pac Heights, this institution serves great Bloodys, unbelievable deviled eggs (yes, for brunch, get over it), and wow-moment biscuits (along with whatever actual brunch entree you choose).
Despite the fact that you might be waiting for at least an hour in the Tenderloin, it's (sorta) totally worth it, for this Southern-style brunch. Especially if you get the beignets. Get the beignets.
Ella's has all of your contemporary American brunch needs, like a fried egg sandwich with cheddar cheese, pesto aioli, arugula, and avocado on brioche, or the strawberry ricotta pancakes with Coombs Family Farms' pure maple syrup from Vermont.
Either make sure you have a reservation, or take a seat at the bar (at least you'll be closer to the mimosas), and grab any of BR's Louisiana-style comfort food. Then, in particular, grab the fried shrimp po' boy with Lil' Sarah's tartar sauce and hushpuppies.
We don't always go to Potrero Hill, but when we do, we go here. And Anchor Brewing Company. But mostly here. And mostly for the eggs Benny (with addable cold-smoked salmon).
Get your British brunch on here in the company of taxidermied animals and hand-painted hunting scenes, while housing the perfected simplicity that is their bacon sandwich with fried hen egg, pepper cress, shallot, and mustard dressing. Also, ask for the little toast sticks you can dip in stuff. They'll know what you're talking about.
Sure, there might be a line down the block for this tiny spot, but that's what happens when you make a breakfast pizza (with smoked ham, Fontina, and eggs) as good as they do. It's also what happens when you only have said tiny spot.
Head on over to the neighborhood we refuse to call NOPA to... go to Nopa... for some obviously-gonna-be-good brunch items like a custard French toast with maple butter and caramelized apples.
Hit the covered/heated back patio. Hit the Pimm's Cup. And hit their amazing huevos rancheros, because you might as well confuse your hungover brain with a British cocktail and Mexican food.
Joe Starkey is Thrillist's Brunch Addict (and SF Editor), and hopes never to know what the bottom of a mimosa glass looks like. Follow him on Twitter.
1. Brenda's French Soul Food652 Polk St, San Francisco
2. Maven598 Haight St, San Francisco
3. The Tipsy Pig2231 Chestnut St, San Francisco
4. Park Tavern1652 Stockton St, San Francisco
5. The Cavalier360 Jesse St, San Francisco
6. The Corner Store5 Masonic Ave, San Francisco
7. Farmerbrown25 Mason St, San Francisco
8. Plow1299 18th St, San Francisco
9. Nopa560 Divisadero St, San Francisco
10. Boxing Room399 Grove St, San Francisco
11. Elite Cafe2049 Fillmore St, San Francisco
12. Dottie's True Blue Cafe28 6th St, San Francisco
13. Ella's500 Presidio Ave, San Francisco
14. Rose's Café2298 Union St, San Francisco
Two words: crawfish beignets. We could stop there convinced you’d still check out the brunch at this Tenderloin soul food eatery, but we’ll go on. Get the beignet flight, so you can also sample the classic, chocolate, and Granny Smith apple varieties. The massive menu has more than just fried treats, though. You can chow down on Creole-style favorites like gumbo, shrimp and grits, and andouille omelettes. The brunch wait can be long, but we promise it's worth it -- especially after you try a Creole Bloody.
Maven is a chic bar and restaurant in Lower Haight that pairs all of its dishes with different cocktails. The highlight of the menu is the burger, which begins with beef that's ground with a few dashes of angostura bitters and is paired with the Mr. Wiggles cocktail, made with bourbon, amaro, vermouth, and bitters. The bar's morning cocktails make it a popular brunch spot, as do the duck hash and Bananas Foster French toast. The seating is all communal, and the best seats in the house are either on the second-floor loft or at the chef's counter.
Brunch and the Marina go together like bacon and eggs (and bottomless mimosas), and The Tipsy Pig has all these things, plus everything else you could ever want in a gastropub. Outdoor patio? Check. 40 local and worldly brews? Check. Cocktails? You get the idea. You’re going to want to get here early on a Sunday morning to stake out a spot outside and stay here all day chowing down on huevos rancheros, old-fashioned doughnuts, and the killer burger.
If you're looking for a restaurant in North Beach packed with San Franciscans of all neighborhoods, head to Park Tavern. This upscale spot is homey and bustling, and the food is part Southern comfort, part English pub. Every table gets the famed lamb-and-beef Marlowe burger and a starter of smoky deviled eggs, but those in the know will get an extra order of eggs to put on their burger. Park Tavern is also a bonafide brunch hotspot with the best Bloody Marys and a menu filled with griddled goods (pancakes and more pancakes) and savory eggs. And that burger.
An upscale pub-style joint in Soma from the folks behind Park Tavern, Marlowe, and S&R Lounge, The Cav serves a British-themed menu with hearty standouts like venison tartare; a bacon, caramelized onion, and cheddar burger; and Shepherd's pie.
The Corner Store is set in a completely renovated space that was once a soda shop and then a speakeasy. Now, it's a 20-seat, outdoor-patio-featuring restaurant dominated by a mix of wood and white tile. The menu mixes things up with both small and large plates, which include lamb shoulder pasta, roasted duck breast, and brioche dinner rolls.
This super-popular Union Square spot sets the San Francisco standard for Southern soul food with an upscale menu of BBQ baby back ribs, biscuits and gravy, and cheesy grits. Most notable is the chicken and waffles, also served at sister joint Little Skillet. Bottomless weekend brunch is Farmerbrown's most popular time, and if you don't make a reservation, your best bet is to put your name down and get a head start on the mimosas at the bar.
This Potrero Hill gem has been a brunch standby since 2010 and makes some of our favorite eggs Benedict in the city. Be prepared to wait, though -- this small space doesn’t take reservations and can rack up two-hour wait times on the weekends. But once you’re seated with a fresh mimosa and those light-as-air lemon ricotta pancakes, you'll quickly forget the time you spent in line.
Nopa is a San Francisco institution that does everything really, really well. It's the best brunch in Western Addition and one of the best in the whole city. Its burger is perfect with pickled onions and French fries, especially when eaten at the bar. It's a one-stop-shop for a date, a birthday dinner, or dinner with your parents. Plus, the kitchen is open until 1 AM for a full dinner. Yeah, this place wins at everything.
This Hayes Valley gem, situated in the back of a spacious former 19th-century Standard Shirts Factory, will satisfy all your Creole cravings with classics like oysters, hushpuppies, fried green tomatoes, black eyed peas, and po’boys. The theme carries over to the cocktail menu, where New Orleans favorites like the Milk Punch or Ramos Gin Fizz can help you pretend you're actually in the Big Easy and don’t have to go to work tomorrow.
Nestled into Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights, the handsome, wood-laden Elite Cafe is beloved for its New Orleans-inspired brunch and dinner menus, which feature dishes like breakfast biscuits with fried ham, chicken jambalaya with squash and turnips, crawfish etouffee, and duck gumbo. Make sure you save room for the bacchus, a giant bananas foster sundae with crème fraiche ice cream, chocolate pearls, toasted coconut, and walnuts. In addition to Creole classics, there are exceptional cocktail standbys like a Hurricane, a Sazerac, and (of course) Bloody Marys at brunch.
Dottie's is the diner you need in your life. The SOMA institution serves no-fuss bacon and eggs, whole wheat buttermilk pancakes, and so much more. All of the breads and pastries are baked in-house, and the cinnamon pecan roll and chili-cheddar corn bread are mind-blowingly good. Since such an authentic diner experience is hard to come by in San Francisco, the wait on weekend mornings is pretty long, so don't say we didn't warn you.
If you're sick of waiting for hours for your avocado toast, make your way to Laurel Heights for a brunch spot that's gloriously free from the lines San Franciscans have come to expect for the morning meal. Ella's has all your usual brunch suspects, like a daily Benedict, buttermilk pancakes, and a fried egg sandwich. Whatever you go with, start your meal off with the sticky bun appetizer (and maybe split it with a friend, cause it's definitely big enough).
Rose's Cafe is a quaint, mom-and-pop café in Cow Hollow with comforting Italian flare. Its extensive brunch has made it a neighborhood staple for years, but it's also great for a family meal or a low-key date. The daily changing menu has a little bit of everything, but Rose’s breakfast pizza (which can come with egg, arugula, or prosciutto) may be its most popular item to-date. If a smoked salmon breakfast pizza doesn’t appeal, come back for a fresh seafood dinner and some hand-made pasta.