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The Top Brunch Spots in Oakland

Chicken and waffles at Brown Sugar Kitchen, via Zagat. 

If you've exhausted all your brunch options in the city, then it's time to check out the scene across the bridge. 

Brown Sugar Kitchen

Every time I head to Brown Sugar Kitchen, I try really hard not to order the chicken and waffles, but it's impossible. Crispy and juicy buttermilk chicken paired with a decadent cornmeal waffle and topped with brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup, you'll never regret gobbling down the whole plate. If you're going on a weekend prepare to wait, for a long time, despite the ample size of the restaurant. But if you can manage to get here on a weekday morning (and the earlier, the better) you'll be seated right away and have the same breakfast menu at your disposal. Saturday 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 3:00p.m., 2534 Mandela Parkway

Tamarindo

Tamarindo has one of the best and most authentic Mexican-inspired drink menus around, so I'm more than a little excited about the juice options, including a Tamarind mimosa, nopal (cactus) juice, and cafe de olla (coffee spiced with cinnamon and piloncillo and prepared in earthen clay pots). As far as eats go, you really can't go wrong with the traditional Jalisco fare, but if you can't decide, try the pozole rojo (pork hominy stew, chile seco, onion, and cilantro), the hotcakes de planatano (banana), or the huevos con nopalitos (scrambled eggs with cactus). Saturday only, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., 468 8th Street. 

Aunt Mary's

Aunt Mary's is hopping every weekend, and for good reason. The weekend specials include drool-inducing dishes like their twist on French toast, Pain Perdue (Cajun-style French toast made with baguettes soaked in a whiskey laced custard (!), baked to order, and served with red and white wine compote and fruit). It's made to order, so it takes some time, but it's absolutely worth the wait. If you're too starved to wait, try the spicy Huevos Benedictos (cheddar masa cakes with poachers and mole negro, served with house-made Niman Ranch beef chorizo, guacamole, and pico de gallo), or the lemon ricotta pancakes with lemon curd and fresh strawberries. Seriously, I might as well list the whole menu, because everything is so good. To top it all off, on sunny days you can sit outside on the front patio. Saturday & Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. 4307 Telegraph Ave. 

Cosecha

Served only one day a week, Cosecha's bold flavors and hearty Mexican grub place it among the top spots in Oakland. For drinks they offer mimosas and micheladas, but the food is the true star here. Try the Huevos Cuauhtemoc, two fried eggs over beans and salsa de arbol, topped with avocado, and served with handmade tortillas; or the chilaquiles, crispy corn tortilla sauteed in a salsa rojo or verde, topped with eggs, avocado, cotija, and served with beans. Saturday only, 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., 907 Washington St. 

Hopscotch

Oakland's much acclaimed Asian fusion restaurant also serves brunch. Wet your whistle with a twist on a classic with the Wasabi Bloody Mary, or show some East Bay pride with the Oakland - sparkling wine, oj, lemon, house grenadine, and gin. Then comes the real fun. Soy Braised Pork Belly Benedict with jidori eggs and miso hollandaise is a local favorite, and comes with salad and your choice of cast iron skillet potatoes or fruit. And you can't go wrong with the fried chicken and biscuit with sausage gravy and poached eggs. Their fried chicken is perfectly crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside, you're gonna want to come back and order it again for dinner. The restaurant isn't very large so prepare to wait or make a reservation. Saturday & Sunday 10:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., 1915 San Pablo Ave. 

Portal

Portal's big outdoor patio and proximity to Lake Merritt makes it perfect for a sunny weekend brunch. All their ingredients are sourced from local farmer's markets and pairs perfectly with their wide variety of local and regional gourmet beers. Opt for the Stuffed Challah French Toast (caramelized fruit and ricotta filling with whipped cream, butter and maple syrup) or the mini burgers and choose two of the following options: Beef (cheddar, horseradish aioli), Turkey (chevre, tomato aioli), Crispy Fried Egg (turkey bacon, fontina, pesto), or Quinoa/Tempeh (spicy bbq sauce, avocado). Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., 1611 2nd Ave. 

Flora

If you want the best bloody mary in the East Bay, head to Flora. And if you're gonna stay for food, you won't be disappointed. They offer brunch classic like steak and eggs, shrimp and grits, and distinct dishes like chicken and pork belly ragu with biscuits. And take some of their heavenly beignets home with you. Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., 1900 Telegraph Ave. 

Boot & Shoe Service

One of the delicious brain children of Charlie Hallowell, this is your chance to try something besides their delectable pizzas (even though those are on the menu too). The menu changes a lot, depending on what's in season, but this month you can look forward to sweet pain de mie french toast with strawberry compote and crème fraîche, the savory pressed prosciutto and grana sandwich with onion jam, arugula and fried egg, or the classic French omelette with ramps, bacon, fontina and butterball potatoes. But if none of those strike your fancy, you seriously can't go wrong with one of their perfect wood-fired pizzas. As always, they're cocktails are on point, so order something to wash it all down. Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., 3308 Grand Avenue. 

Grand Lake Kitchen

Grand Lake Kitchen is a small cafe right alongside Lake Merritt and just a block away from the Saturday morning farmers market, so it's the perfect way to start any weekend. Order the chilaquiles, which comes with tortilla chips, salsa roja, black beans, two eggs, avocado, queso fresco, and pickled red onions (which really gives the dish a special and unique kick). Or opt for their famous savory French toast: rye bread, two eggs, wild mushrooms, parmesan, arugula, and herb oil, you've never had anything like it. Perk: you can dine and people watch on the small sidewalk patio, and the wait staff is really nice. Saturday & Sunday, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., 576 Grand Ave. 

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