Where to Brunch Your Heart Out in Oakland
At Grand Lake Kitchen, avocado toast never looked so good. (Remy Anthes, courtesy of @grandlakekitchen)

Where to Brunch Your Heart Out in Oakland

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Brunch is a hallowed occasion in San Francisco, but since by now you've either exhausted the options or, more likely, moved to Oakland, it's time to shake up your breakfast game.

Fortunately, mornings are hopping in Oakland again. Though Covid killed several of our favorite spots (RIP Brown Sugar Kitchen, Flora, and Cosecha), there's still no shortage of global flavors and bottomless mimosas. Here are our favorite restaurants for grabbing brunch in Oakland.


Pork belly and kimchi fried rice at Hopscotch.(Courtesy of @hopscotchoakland)

Hopscotch
Oakland's much acclaimed American-Japanese fusion restaurant also serves brunch. On the more American side of things, chef Kyle Itani makes killer buttermilk fried chicken with soba biscuits, accompanied by fluffy scrambled eggs and a hearty, crumbled sausage gravy. If you're looking for something a little more Japanese, you can't go wrong with the soy-braised pork belly Benedict with jidori eggs and miso hollandaise, a local favorite. Prepare to wet your whistle with a twist on a classic with the wasabi bloody mary, or show some East Bay pride with the Oakland 75 (gin, sparkling wine, OJ, lemon, and house grenadine). The vibe is upscale, old-school charm with a shabby modern twist; reservations are highly recommended. // Open daily at 11am; 1915 San Pablo Ave. (Uptown), hopscotchoakland.com


Grand Lake Kitchen

Grand Lake Kitchen has two locations, but it's small cafe alongside Lake Merritt that has our hearts. Start the weekend a block away from the Saturday morning farmers market, then people-watch on the sidewalk patio as you feast on savory French toast dipped in porcini batter, killer pastrami Benedict, and soft scrambled eggs. There's also an extensive deli-esque menu of sandwiches and sides if you want to grab something to go for an impromptu picnic at the lake. // Brunch is served 9am to 3pm Wednesday through Monday; 576 Grand Ave. (Lake Merritt) and 2042 MacArthur Blvd. (Dimond), grandlakekitchen.com


Brenda's

This East Bay sister to San Francisco's beloved Brenda's French Soul Food has brunch action even for the early birds. Their famous New Orleans–style beignets are served hot all day alongside eggs with biscuits and country gravy, potato hash and grits, and delightfully messy brekkie sandwiches. Wash it all down with a Hurricane Andrew (tropical rum punch) or a Creole bloody. // Opens at 8am Thursday through Monday; 4045 Broadway (Temescal), brendasoakland.com

Poached eggs and corn hash. (Courtesy of @sequoia_diner)


Sequoia Diner

Seasonal and organic are the watchwords at this local favorite where breakfast foods star. Start off with the baked goods (mmm, sticky buns) then move into savory options like shakshuka with eggplant and minty yogurt, braised beef hash, and goat cheese and herb omelette. If you're in the mood for a sandwich, you're in luck: Sequoia starts serving lunch at 10am. // 8am to 1:30pm Wednesday through Sunday; 3719 MacArthur Blvd., sequoiadiner.com


Portal
Everyone and their dog knows you come to Portal for the big outdoor patio, and also for brunch six days a week. Just off Lake Merritt, this spot sources all its ingredients from local farmers markets, which pair perfectly with their wide variety of regional craft beers. Whatever you do, start with the signature garbage bread, aka housemade stromboli stuffed to the max with melted cheese, seasonal veggies and meat, and marinara and pesto dipping sauces. On the more traditional side of things you'll find stuffed challah French toast and the Portal Benedict with two plump poached eggs over squares of grilled polenta. // Closed Tuesdays; 1611 2nd Ave. (Lake Merritt),portaloakland.com


Souley Vegan

Herbivores looking to get a little saucy on a Sunday morning head to chef Tamearra Dyson's Souley Vegan for sweet potato waffles, seitan shrimp and grits, pecan-praline French toast, and rosemary biscuits and gravy served with a side of live NOLA-style jazz (2pm to 5pm) jazz and $20 bottomless mimosas. // Beginning at noon on Sundays; 301 Broadway, souleyvegan.com

Shakewell's chilaquiles.(Courtesy of shakewelloakland)

Shakewell
If you're looking for an It spot with a fun, energetic crowd, Shakewell will be up your alley. The modern, eclectic dining room has huge open windows that let in fresh air and sunlight, as well as an out-of-the-box menu melding Spanish, Moroccan, and Mediterranean flavors. The shakshuka (Moroccan baked eggs and hearty chickpeas smothered in a sauce of roasted peppers, herbs, and French feta) is a must, and just waiting to be scooped up with toast. Other popular dishes that play off traditional favorites, such as French toast levain with blueberry compote, Dungeness crab soft scramble; and paella with gulf prawns and chorizo. // Brunch is served 10:30am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday;3407 Lakeshore Ave. (Grand Lake), shakewelloakland.com


Calavera

Craving a bloody maria? This Oakland hot spot has all the marys and mimosas you could want. Soak them up with all sorts of huevos—scrambled with slow-braised carnitas; sunny-side up over sweet potato hash; over medium with totopos in chilaquiles verdes...you get the idea. There are also tacos, tortas, and plenty of sides. Kick back to enjoy the festive mood and sidewalk view through the large street-front windows. // Opens at 10am Saturday and Sunday; 2337 Broadway (Uptown), calaveraoakland.com


Low Bar

In the former home of Hawker Fare, this casual, cocktail-driven eatery from a pair of lifelong buddies is just the place to chill over low-key eats on a Sunday. Get the party started with mezcal-chocolate churros, then stuff your face with chilaquiles, variations on breakfast tacos and burritos, buttermilk pancakes, or an Impossible burger. But we said this was a cocktail bar so you'll want a brunch drink or three. The bloody comes with your choice of vodka, tequila, or mezcal, and you can even put mezcal in your coffee. // 11am to 3pm weekends;2300 Webster St (Uptown), lowbaroakland.com


Nido's Backyard
All-day tacos, burritos, and enchiladas bring all the boys and girls (and their dogs) to the yard. The festive alfresco space has ample outdoor seating for the whole gang to while away an afternoon over mezcal margaritas and boozy slushies. A Californian twist on Mexican fare means there are plenty of veggies and fresh ingredients. Brunch on weekends brings chilaquiles divorciados and cinnamon-sugar churro waffles. // 10am to 3pm weekends; 104 Oak St., nidooakland.com


Shandong

No brunch roundup would be complete without a solid spot for a dumpling feast. Shandong fits the bill with juicy handmade dumplings and chewy hand-pulled noodles, made fresh to order. This place is always packed and lively, the sounds of plates clinking and chopsticks knocking amongst the boisterous brunch chatter. Definitely go all in and family-style with a little bit of everything. The sesame paste noodles are undeniably delicious with a nutty sauce that's savory, sweet, and mildly spicy at once. The flavor combinations are endless and the dumplings are all winners. Need something sans noodles? They have all the usual Chinese dishes as well as their popular Shandong Chicken, deep fried and covered in a Mandarin-style glaze. Bonus, the price point is extremely affordable. // Opens at 11am daily (closed Mondays); 328 10th St., #101, shandongoakland.com

Shandong's dumplings.(@snackswithannie)

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