We dare you not to order the fried chicken and waffles at Brown Sugar Kitchen. (Courtesy of Brown Sugar Kitchen)

The Top Brunch Spots in Oakland


Brunch is a hallowed occasion in San Francisco, but by now you've probably exhausted the options. Or, you've moved to the East Bay and need to shake up your breakfast game.

Fortunately, mornings are hopping in Oakland, where there's no shortage of global flavors and bottomless mimosas. Here are our fav spots in The Town to work off your hangover.

The Gastropig

The Gastropig is more of a fast, casual breakfast spot, but its cult-like following for the Baconslut breakfast sandwich makes it worth mentioning. This beauty has thick slices of applewood smoked bacon, melting sharp cheddar, and an over easy egg on a super soft brioche bun slathered with smokey, spicy Aleppo aioli. If you're looking for a meatless alternative, their avocado toast is a solid choice. Everything is casual, quick, and downright delicious—the perfect spot to fuel up before heading out to explore the city or tackle a hike. // 2123 Franklin St.. thegastropig.com

Brown Sugar Kitchen
It's incredibly hard to not order the crispy, juicy buttermilk chicken paired with a decadent cornmeal waffle and topped with brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup. Whatever main dish you choose, definitely opt for a slew of soul food sides (buttery biscuits, organic cheddar cheese grits, and cast iron skillet cornbread). If you're going on a weekend, prepare to wait—this spot is a favorite among the Warriors and Drake. But if you can manage to get here on a weekday morning, you'll be seated right away and have the same breakfast menu at your disposal. Also look for owner/chef Tanya Holland to open a second finger-licken' location in the San Francisco Ferry Building. // 2534 Mandela Parkway, brownsugarkitchen.com

Aunt Mary''s Cafe
Phew! Aunt Mary's closed for a bit while relocating down the street, but no fear, this spot is back to hopping every weekend. And for good reason: Their weekend-only specials are the stuff of legends. We recommend digging into the pain perdu with a team of at least three friends—the three-inch-tall Cajun-style French toast is worth tackling, made from baguettes soaked in whiskey-laced custard, then served with red and white wine compote. It's baked to order, so it takes some time, but it's absolutely worth it. 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 fried chicken sandwich that has the perfect juicy-meat to fried-outside ratio, enhanced by gruyere cheese and chipotle sauce. On sunny days you can sit outside on the back patio. // 4640 Telegraph Ave., auntmaryscafe.com

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 (sparkling wine, OJ, lemon, house grenadine, and gin). The vibe is upscale, old-school charm with a shabby modern twist; reservations are highly recommended if you don't fancy a wait. // 1915 San Pablo Ave., hopscotchoakland.com

Everyone knows you come to Portal for the big outdoor patio, but the drinks and food are also delightful. Just off Lake Merritt, this spot makes for a perfect for sunny weekend brunch. All ingredients are sourced from local farmers markets and 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. (Just imagine if you took a giant pizza and rolled into a burrito—love it!) 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. Plus, bottomless mimosas, hello! // 1611 2nd Ave., portaloakland.com

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 fried spice-rubbed chicken with sweet churros; poached eggs over falafel cakes with chorizo; and decadent fried French toast. // 1915 San Pablo Ave., shakewelloakland.com

If a full-service, sit-down brunch feels like too much of a commitment, make your way over to Cosecha for a low maintenance, order-at-the-counter sitch tucked inside of the historic Swan's Market. You'll be dining at communal tables but the eats are high quality. On Saturdays only, Cosecha's Mexican brunch promises bold flavors in huevos Cuauhtemoc (fried eggs over black beans topped with Mexican cheese, salsa de arbol, and slices of avocado served with handmade tortillas) and chilaquiles. For boozy drinks, they offer mimosas and micheladas. Grab one of their fantastic horchata lattes on your way out. // 907 Washington St., cosechacafe.com


If you want the best bloody Mary in the East Bay, head to Flora, which offers a bunch of elevated classics such as shrimp and sweet corn grits with a poached egg; fried chicken and Belgian waffles; and a roasted pork loin breakfast sandwich. Don't overlook their Benedict either—this bad boy has fried green tomatoes, house-smoked ham, and poached eggs with whole-grain mustard hollandaise. Take some of their heavenly beignets home with you. // 1900 Telegraph Ave., floraoakland.com

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. In other words, this is a perfect way to start any weekend. People-watch on the sidewalk patio and you feast on the must-order savory French toast (eggs, wild mushrooms, parm and arugula atop rye bread dipped in porcini batter)—trust us, you've never had anything like it. Other favorites include a perfectly braised pork belly hash with polenta, and a killer breakfast sando with two fried eggs and a generous mound of thinly sliced rosemary ham. There's also an extensive deli-esque menu of 17 sandwiches and seven sides if you want to grab something to go for an impromptu picnic at the lake. // 576 Grand Ave., grandlakekitchen.com


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 china 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. // 328 10th St., #101, sd.222.to

Nido Kitchen + Bar
Nido, meaning "nest" in Spanish, is an off-the-beaten path, farm-to-table Mexican spot with an ever-changing menu that's always seasonal and locally sourced. Bright, fun and funky with twinkling lights strung across the dining room, this place has a festive ambiance to boot. To nurse the most monstrous of hangovers, start with a glass of guava-pineapple agua fresca, followed by their blanco y negro horchata iced coffee. Then dig into the Ollita de Pobre, a ceramic pot filled with Mexican rice, pinto beans, avocado, casera salsa, meat or veggies, and served with two warm tortillas, almost like a deconstructed burrito. The huarache de chorizo con huevo is also insanely delicious. // 444 Oak St., nidooakland.com

This article has been updated since it was originally published in August 2014.

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