Food & Drink

The Best Brunches in SF, According to Chefs

Published On 10/16/2015 Published On 10/16/2015
Drew Tyson/Thrillist
Courtesy of Joe Starkey
Courtesy of Bar Tartine

Chef Chris Jones of Gaspar Brasserie

His pick: Bar Tartine (address and info)

The Francophile chef behind the FiDi’s swanky Gaspar Brasserie is all about Bar Tartine’s ever-changing three-course fixed brunch menu because each course includes individually plated components that allow you to taste “lots of interesting bites and flavor combinations.” At $35 a person, it’s a pretty good deal too, especially since making any decisions should really wait until Monday anyway.

Courtesy of Bar Agricole

Chef Thomas McNaughton of Ne Timeas Restaurant Group

His pick: Bar Agricole (address and info)

If the chef behind some of the best restaurants in the city ever gets a Sunday morning off from slinging delicious brunch burgers at Central Kitchen, he’ll be on Bar Agricole’s sunny back patio washing down the “simple but good food” with Thad Vogler’s amazing cocktails. As McNaughton says, “brunch is more about the booze anyway.” Couldn’t agree more, chef.

Courtesy of 20th Century Café

Chef Staffan Terje of Perbacco and Barbacco

His pick: 20th Century Café (address and info)

Hayes Valley
Chef Terje is a fan of the low-key and relaxing weekend vibe at this corner bakery, which features delectable, traditional pastries from Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. He even calls pastry chef/owner Michelle Polzine “one of the most thoughtful pastry chefs in SF” -- high praise coming from the chef who’s worked at some of California’s finest Italian restaurants for more than three decades. Chef Terje’s must-orders: the Reuben sandwich, which comes with handmade sauerkraut, the honey cake, and chocolate chip cookies.  

Chef Gayle Pirie of Foreign Cinema

Her pick: Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant (address and info)

As the chef behind one of the city’s most beloved restaurants, Gayle Pirie knows good food. So when she suggests Hong Kong East Ocean for its SF skyline views, turnip cakes, sticky rice in lotus leaves, shrimp dumplings, and vegetarian goose even though it's very cheatingly not in SF (it's in Emeryville!), we’re WAY more likely to get on BART.

Grant Marek/Thrillist

Chef Ron Pei of Chino

His pick: ABV (address and info)

If he’s not grabbing a quick cup of coffee and Russian dumplings at Inner Richmond’s Cinderella Bakery, the Chino chef is hitting up one of his work neighbors: ABV because it has “hands down one of best brunch menus in town.” We have a feeling the kimchee fritters, pimento cheeseburger, and fry pies have something to do with it.

Courtesy of Dragon Beaux

Chef Jeff Banker of Bluestem Brasserie

His pick: Dragon Beaux (address and info)

Yet another dim sum recommendation comes from the new chef at Bluestem Brasserie, who hits up Koi Palace’s sister restaurant Dragon Beaux for the “creative” carts of chef-loving goodness.

Chef Ryan Pollnow of Aatxe

His pick: Ton Kiang (address and info)

After a busy night at Aatxe or a late night with friends, Chef Pollnow is recuperating over a dim sum feast at this Richmond classic. It’s his hangover meal of choice because you don’t have to choose from a menu, but rather only “decide when to tap out.” Smart man.

Marla Bakery
Courtesy of Huxley

Melissa Perello of Octavia and Frances

Her pick: Huxley (address and info)

The acclaimed chef is a fan of Sara Hauman’s “small, but thoughtfully curated” brunch at the tiny Tenderloin restaurant Huxley, quickly gaining a following for its sweet and savory toasts on Jane bread. Chef Perello suggests ordering ALL of them (there are five, including a killer avocado).

Chef Daniel Corey of Luce

His pick: Gallardos Mexican Restaurant (address and info)

The Luce chef turns to this family-run Mission mainstay for the “hangover-curing” pozole, birria, menudo, and chilaquiles on the sunny sidewalk. (Add a michelada cocktail or fresh-squeezed juice to brunch up this Mexican spot.) Chef Corey also suggests ordering the machaca (dried, spiced meat that’s been rehydrated so it’s super tender), as he says this is the only spot in the city that gets the traditional dish right.

Chef Carl Foronda of 1760

His pick: Nopalito (address and info)

Chef Corey, if you’re reading this, meet Chef Carl Foronda, your brunching soulmate. when he’s not working brunch at 1760, he’s also dining on chilaquiles, birria, pozole, and micheladas on the other side of the city at Nopalito. Maybe you guys should go halvsies next time!

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Amy Copperman is a regular contributor for Thrillist, currently suffering from a serious dim sum craving. Tell her where your favorite chef brunches on Twitter: @acoppergirl.