With the Burners and Labor Day vacationers out of town over the next three days, it's going to be a dead city all three-day-weekend long. The upside? Less competition for brunch! You've finally got a prayer of eating the custardy Nopa French Toast or Baker & Banker Benedict. Here now, the restaurants with the most famously long brunch lines, and the specials they're offering for the holiday weekend.
A family-owned staple on Washingtown Square Park for over 50 years, lines always swirl around the block as diners wait to see Mama's gorgeous display case full of coffee cakes, breakfast breads, muffins and pastries. It's all one hell of a teaser leading into a meal of classics, done exceptionally well: Fluffy omelets, inventive benedicts and pancakes bursting with fruit.
To try: Peach coffee cake, Dungeness crab benedict on brioche, banana nut French toast and a mimosa made with freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice.
Since every single thing on the menu is made in-house, it's hard to go wrong at Nopa. Formerly a Sunday-only affair, the restaurant recently added Saturday brunch, and owner Jeff Hanak says they've still got reservations available after 2 pm on both days. You can also walk in and put your name on the wait list at will—whenever the hunger pangs strike.
To Try: French Toast with first-of-the-season Gravenstein apples, anything with a housemade sausage, basted eggs with Romano beans and English pea fritters. For your sipping pleasure, the Ramos Gin Fizz is a like a liquid, adult creamsicle.
The reputation for Gayle Pirie's brunch menu precedes it, and the airy, open patio out back takes the entire experience to the next level thanks rays of Mission sunshine bursting through overhead.
To try: A Foreign Cinema classic, the homemade "Pop Tart" is available in seasonal organic plum right now. Pirie also just added a "hangover soup" with shreded chicken and a poached egg in a spicy harissa and jalapeño tomato broth, and a huge farm-fresh egg omelet filled with golden chanterelles, summer truffles and fontina. Sip on the classic bloody Mary, garnished with one plump chilled shrimp.
This small, no-reservations Potrero Hill favorite is run by husband and wife team Maxine Siu and Joel Lee. The space is packed solid from 8 am to 2 pm every Saturday and Sunday with Siu working the griddles in the kitchen. Light streaming in from the sidewalk and the smell of heavenly lemon ricotta pancakes entices those in the line to hold out for an extra 15 minutes.
To Try: "The Plow" gives a sampling of the menu's stars: Housemade pork sausage, lemon ricotta pancakes and addictive double-fried crispy potatoes. Siu is also excited about a few new menu additions, both of which sing with end-of-summer produce: Fresh black-eyed pea hash with sweet corn, Fresno chiles, gypsy peppers and guanciale, and a savory bread pudding with leeks, shishito peppers, English peas and baby Savoy spinach.
In Cole Valley, Zazie is open for brunch every day except Christmas, so you better believe this is a big weekend for them. If the weather holds out, try to angle for a table on the tree-covered patio, which feels a bit like you're in a friends backyard. These are some of the most picturesque brunch seats in the city.
To Try: All of the favorites–gingerbread pancakes, La Mer eggs benedict with Dungeness crab and Hass avocado, and the BLT Provencale made with goat cheese on herbed foccacia.
At the beginning of the year, Dottie's relocated to Sixth Street in SoMa and she brought her epic lines with her. Owner Kurt Abney will open up his exposed brick beauty at 7:30 am all weekend long, and he's got tons of new specials lined up. Also note that Dottie's hours will expand on September 1 to five days a week, Thursday through Monday.
To Try: Rice flour brings a delightful chew to the raspberry pancakes, served with real maple syrup. There's also a scramble, rich with chipotle ground beef, onion, tomato, corn and spinach, and served with grilled cornbread. Other additions include sweet potato, caramelized onion and gruyere tart and French toast stuffed with fig jam and mascarpone cheese then topped with balsamic strawberries.
Brenda Buenviaje's New Orleans-inspired Polk Street brunch stop will be serving a limited brunch menu on Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm, and on "Breakfast for Supper Sundays," the menu is served until 8 pm.
To Try: Buenviaje says people go crazy for the shrimp and grits. She's also adding two specials this weekend: Crispy pork belly and a poached egg on cheddar grits spicy onion relish, and pulled pork eggs benedict, served on a cream biscuit with Creole hollandaise.