In a city whose favorite meal is weekend brunch, it's no wonder there's an hour and a half wait at tried and true favorites, like the Brenda's, Outerlands, and Zazies of San Francisco. But these aren't the only spots in the city where you can get your brunch on. Here's a list of 11 off-the-radar places that serve a mean pancake or two.
Tucked away in a lazy corner of Laurel Heights, time slows to a relaxing pace at Magic Flute where even waiting seems enjoyable. Their food is excellent -- like the smoked chicken hash with poached eggs and sun dried tomato Hollandaise, or the cinnamon sugar beignets with lemon curd-- add on a quaint back garden patio, and you have everything you need for The Secret Garden: Brunch Edition.
Burma Superstar's younger sister is known for her [slightly] shorter lines, conveniently located just down the block. But B Star's Asian-inspired brunch is what really makes her twinkle. Think stuffed Azuki almond banana French toast with Japanese red beans and mascarpone, a salmon benedict with tobiko and Hollandaise, or the ever-comforting Chinese rice porridge, Jook.
At Arguello and McAllister, this tiny Inner Richmond gem is close enough to almost make you feel like you're dining in the park. Come for the breakfast burrito with black beans, bacon, and avocado, and stay for the Blue Bottle. And for late risers or mid-week brunch-goers, they serve their breakfast menu everyday until 4:30pm.
While the eggs baked in a cazuela with tomato sauce, steamed farro spezzato, diced Niman Ranch applewood smoked ham and basil-almond pesto is a tried favorite, jazzing up a French toast description with words like "challah custard toast" immediately perks our interest at Olea in Nob Hill.
We are taking "off the beaten path" more literally with this spot. At Judah and, well, the beach, it's a small voyage to get to. But those unwilling to wait in line at uber-hip Outerlands down the street have found that Beachside is a welcome alternative. Their in-house roasted coffee selection is truly fantastic. It must be, after sending their head barista on a coffee farm tour of Guatemala. And of the food: their breakfast burrito with sausage and bacon is one that cures even the worst of hangovers, while the Irish breakfast sandwich with Irish bacon (like a smoked ham), Irish sausage, white and black pudding (more sausages), and grilled tomatoes sounds like a thing of meat-legend. This place is something to write home about.
Photo from here
We are lucky we found out about Gamine's brunch. Not only do they have beautiful buckwheat crepes, a welcomed discovery after Ti Couz closed, but their oeufs en cocotte are one of the best baked egg dishes we've come across. Take a baton of persillade bread and dip it in the perfectly runny, creamy yolks. Try not to french kiss your waiter.
Just For You
If you like having 14 different options of meat alone, then this may be the place for you. Louisiana hot links, chorizo, crab cakes, chicken apple sausage-- you name it, they've probably got it. Reaching it may be a hike for city-center dwellers, but the New Orleans-style beignets alone are worth getting to the Dogpatch for. Also noteworthy: their breakfast burrito with black beans and tomatillo salsa.
As the name implies, Farm:Table thrives off seasonal produce. Their menu rotates frequently, and items steer towards simplistic in style: toasted brioche with marscapone and honey, squash and goat cheese bread pudding with a soft egg, and brown sugar bread pudding with cherries and cream. Until their parklet is done being built, just be prepared to squish onto the one small communal table. Farm:Table is, amongst seasonal and simple, also super small.
Red Door Cafe
Red Door Cafe is-- how shall I put this?-- colorful. Both in appearance and attitude. After passing his entry interview to ensure you are fun, owner AD gives you a doll to hold while you stand in line. This is your ticket in. Once inside, AD laughs and jokes and plays while you order from an equally colorfully-named menu. Though Red Door Cafe is small, it's sure not forgetful. It might, actually, be the perfect thing to wake you up before you've even caffeinated.
Swing by Skool for an Asian inspired Brunch offering. Their special menu is woven with Asian-inspired dishes like a house-cured salmon croque madame with arugula, yuzu mustard, mozzarella, parmesan and a runny, poached egg or the Loco Moto: two Dungeness crab cakes, topped with yuzu Hollandaise, poached eggs, cripsy applewood smoked bacon bits, and yukari dusted marble potatoes.
This is a little, unassuming place in Lower Haight with huge portions, and some gluten free offerings, too. Start your day with the cornmeal buttermilk pancakes with bacon and cheddar cheese. Don't miss a side of their house made rosemary lamb sausage. And while they might not have a liquor license, it doesn't stop them from suggesting an extra large orange juice and a run to the liquor store around the corner.
Do you have a favorite low-profile brunch spot we didn't include? Let us know your picks in the comments.