Rise and Dine: Brunch Comes to the City's Best Restaurants
Forget bottomless mimosas and hour-long waits on the sidewalk. Try duck sausage, lobster Benedict, a cake made of crêpes, and a table at the ready instead. With the best restaurants in town now open at the tender hour between breakfast and lunch, civilization awaits you. Reserve now.
The house coffee: Single-origin Four Barrel
The dish to order: Fried eggs with pork belly
355 Eleventh St. (at Folsom), 415-355-9400, baragricole.com
This cocktail mecca might be known for its evening crowd, but during the day, the front patio tempts, the gurgling fountain seems hour-appropriate, and inside, light beams beatifically through the skylights outfitted with gorgeous sculptures made of glass tubing. Chef Brandon Jew's crêpe cake layered with treats like slices of candied Meyer lemon, dark chocolate, and a scatter of hazelnuts is a showstopper. In late spring, greens and tender beans lighten up a plate of fried eggs with big chunks of seared pork belly. Jewel-colored king salmon gravlax tops rye bread swiped with horseradish and is served with beets. The brunch cocktails can be a little heady for this much daylight, but you're going to want the delicious coffee anyhow.
The house coffee: Moschetti Sumatra
The dish to order: Eggs baked "en cocotte"
82 14th St. (at Folsom), 415-864-2191, chezspencer.net
Calling all Francophiles. For brunch, Chez Spencer breaks out its French moves with lobster cappuccino, eggs baked "en cocotte" (which normally means baked in a ramekin, but here it means baked in a round of puff pastry), mushroom tartine, and soft scrambled eggs with summer truffles when in season. Angle for a patio seat, and to start, order one of the bartender's special brunch cocktails such as a Corpse Reviver (Champagne, Pernod, and lemon juice). Another option is to go with chef Laurent Katgely's $40 fixed-price brunch tasting menu, starting with a signature Champagne cocktail and the option of a wine pairing with every course.
The house coffee: Equator's organic Sumatra blend
The dish to order: Cinnamon doughnuts
25 Lusk St. (at Townsend), 415-495-5875, 25lusk.com
Like a Hollywood starlet, this slick, high-design restaurant looks great under bright lights. Brunch starts with a gratis seasonal smoothie shot followed by a plate of mini baked goodies, such as crumb cake and dried apricot scones. The SoMa partiers will do themselves a favor to pull themselves out of bed for chef Matthew Dolan's homemade cinnamon doughnuts served with French press coffee for dunking and a half pint of ale for soothing the headache. Hungover or not, everyone should order the seasonal pancakes—whoever's flipping them has got the balance of chewy fluff and slight crunch down pat. A plate of rich lobster Benedict makes Canadian bacon seem suddenly gauche.
Baker & Banker
The house coffee: Four Barrel Friendo Blendo espresso
The dish to order: Trout with potato latke, fennel, and beets
1701 Octavia St. (at Bush), 415-351-2500, bakerandbanker.com
Mustard walls, dark banquettes, and a carpeted floor give this neighborhood spot owned by Lori Baker and Jeff Banker a slightly formal setting, yet the brunch is anything but. Eggs in Purgatory arrive to the table as a ragu of spicy tomato sauce and chunky sausage on top of polenta enriched with mascarpone. A rich dish of French toast bread pudding is made with sticky buns from the in-house bakery (from which the mixed pastry basket comes). The star is a dish of house-smoked trout on top of a potato latke with pickled beets and a pile of shaved fennel. Those in need of a lunch fix can order a burger made with 4505 Meats' customized ground beef and topped with a fried egg.
The house coffee: Peerless' high-elevation organic Mexican blend
The dish to order: Brunch pizza
826 Folsom St. (at Fourth), 415-348-8800, zerozerosf.com
Cozy up in a booth here, and order one of Bruce Hill’s chewy, thin-crusted pizzas topped with a poached egg and sausage. Further indulgence can be had by diving into the fried chicken thighs with semolina waffles and chestnut honey butter, a dish that sends your brain pulse-quickening doses of salty, fatty, and sweet. Chef de cuisine Chris Whaley serves silken, herb-flecked, soft-cooked eggs with ham from Madisonville, Tenessee’s cult-followed Benton’s with flaky cream biscuits made by pastry chef Laura Cronin. For a buzzy afternoon, top things off with a rum-spiked root beer float.
The house coffee: Blue Bottle Three Africans
The dish to order: Pan de mie French toast
560 Divisadero St. (at Hayes), 415-864-8643, nopasf.com
There's not a night of the week at Nopa that doesn't involve an hour-plus wait and an elbow war over getting a cocktail. But at brunch, you can avoid the crowds and rest easy. In Nopa's style, almost everything—down to the butter—is made in-house. Smoked trout is marinated in beer, brown sugar, and salt. French toast is made from days-old pan de mie and pampered with a long soak in custard before being seared to a crisp and topped with oozing roasted strawberries and lemon butter. Little extras, like hot sauce, are brought over from sister restaurant Nopalito. Tap into the fringe benefits too. Libations concocted for morning drinking include our favorite: an orange blossom–scented Ramos gin fizz that drinks dangerouly like a cold glass of frothy milk.
The house coffee: Weaver Guatamalan
The dish to order: The Prospector (house-made bacon, duck breakfast sausage, corn skillet cakes, eggs over easy and home fries)
300 Spear St. (at Folsom), 415-247-7770, prospectsf.com
Chef Ravi Kapur's brunch options, like monkey bread and French toast fingers, demonstrate his light-hearted touch. He was born and raised in Hawaii, after all. Deviled eggs go Japanese with miso and a sprinkle of furikake (a mix of sesame seeds, nori, and more) and oysters are fried to a crisp and served with a tartar sauce. Meanwhile, the vehicle for Kapur's silky, tart hollandaise is a Dungeness crab cake with a lacy crust. Prospect's staff try to keep it light and breezy for brunch, but the interior's downtown polish can still feel a little formal. Luckily, getting drunk helps loosen things up. A bloody Mary is what the doctor ordered, but bartender Brooke Arthur is all about summery fruit-forward drinks too. If she's working, ask her to whip something up.