Where to Brunch Your Heart Out in Oakland in 2022
At Grand Lake Kitchen, avocado toast never looked so good. (Remy Anthes, courtesy of @grandlakekitchen)

Where to Brunch Your Heart Out in Oakland in 2022

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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, as well as a few new spots to throw back some conchas and bloody marys. Here are our favorite restaurants fro grabbing brunch in Oakland these days.


Whether you like 'em sweet with apples and cinnamon or Ghirardelli chocolate or prefer 'em savory with crawfish and scallions, Brenda's Oakland has a beignet for you.(Courtesy of Brenda's)

Brenda's

Open at 8am Thursday through Monday, 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. // 4045 Broadway (Temescal), brendasoakland.com


Kowbird

The fact that it's open at 11am on weekends and serves a waffle makes this new fried chicken joint from pit master Matt Horn just right for brunch as far as we're concerned. That buckwheat morning pastry will come topped with succulent bird and honey butter; hot birds, half birds, sandwiches, sides, and pies are also on offer. Grab a seat at the U-shaped counter and soak up the soulful community vibe. // 1733 Peralta St (West Oakland), kowbird.com


Aunt Mary''s Cafe
Aunt Mary's weekend-only brunch specials are the stuff of legend. 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. 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. (Temescal), auntmaryscafe.com

You'll want to eat every bite of Hopscotch's kimchi fried rice with shoyu jidori eggs and pork belly.(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. // 1915 San Pablo Ave. (Uptown), hopscotchoakland.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 as 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 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. // 576 Grand Ave. (Lake Merritt) and 2042 MacArthur Blvd. (Dimond), grandlakekitchen.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. // 1611 2nd Ave. (Lake Merritt),portaloakland.com


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 fried spice-rubbed chicken with sweet churros; poached eggs over falafel cakes with chorizo; and decadent fried French toast. // 3407 Lakeshore Ave. (Grand Lake), shakewelloakland.com

Calavera's cochinita camote hash with a medley of potatoes, roasted peppers, and sunny-side up eggs.(LemonAd, courtesy of @calaveraoakland)

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 streetfront windows. // 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. Because yup, Low Bar now serves brunch. Get the party started with mezcal-chocolate churros or housemade sourdough conchas filled with tres leches, then stuff your face with jidori egg tostadas, breakfast burritos, carnitas sandos, and Impossible burgers. But we said this was a cocktail bar so you'll want a brunch drink or three. The mezcal bloody comes with a poblano infusion and you can even put mezcal in your coffee. // 2300 Webster St (Uptown), lowbaroakland.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. // 328 10th St., #101, shandongoakland.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 verdes and cinnamon-sugar churro waffles. // 104 Oak St., nidooakland.com

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