The 14 Hottest Brunch Spots in San Francisco

Foie gras beignets, carnitas Benedict, dosa waffles and mimosa labs
July 31, 2017
by Trevor Felch

Brunch is arguably San Francisco's favorite meal. We're lucky to have a steady flow of new brunch options, like the contemporary Indian-leaning August 1 Five and St. Helena's highly anticipated newcomer, The Charter Oak. We're also fortunate to have so many longtime brunch stalwarts like Foreign Cinema and Nopa, who constantly change menus and warrant never-ending return visits. Combine both worlds and you've got this lineup of 14 deliciously lazy weekend mornings ahead of you.  

August 1 Five
Why it's hot: Civic Center's contemporary Indian restaurant is the city's most exciting destination for one of the hottest trends of the moment, contemporary Indian dining. The new brunch program is just as captivating as the bold flavors at dinner.
Must-order: Coconut and date pancakes; tamarind mushroom sliders; spiced fried chicken and dosa waffles
Insider tip: The cocktail menu reads like a hangover cure: One includes activated charcoal and another has nitro cold brew. Either will get you back on your feet.
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 10:30 AM–2:30 PM

524 Van Ness Ave.; 415-771-5900

The Charter Oak  
Why it's hot: It's not quite Meadowood Lite; instead, this blockbuster summer opening from Meadowood's chef Christopher Kostow and partner Nathaniel Dorn keeps the commitment to Napa Valley ingredients but focuses on simpler, rustic cooking with a much more accessible price point.
Must-order: Smoked and grilled trout; pork posole with fresh tortillas; cauliflower "treated like a piece of meat"; any grilled fruit option
Insider tip: As with dinner and weekday lunch here, everything is served family-style. As tempting as it is to get your own cheeseburger, you'll have a better experience if you share.
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 10:30 AM–2:30 PM

1050 Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena; 707-302-6996

Why it's hot: At Polk Street's bustling contemporary Mexican spot, you can enjoy a few barrel-aged mezcal Negronis on a Friday night, then be back noon on Saturday for a saca la cruda "cure the hangover" brunch.  
Must-order: Bloody Maria with mezcal; carnitas Benedict; short-rib hash
Insider tip: Ask for a sidewalk table for a front row seat to some of the city's most entertaining people-watching.
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 11 AM–3 PM

2323 Polk St.; 415-441-2323

Why it's hot: Not even a year old, the Rockridge neighborhood restaurant has a new chef (Andrew Greene, previously at Social Kitchen & Brewery) and a new bar manager (Luis Ramos from Bourbon & Branch). The result is a thrilling combination of Japanese-inflected riffs on comfort classics and noteworthy cocktails in a space where you could bring your kids and wear sandals.
Must-order: Pork belly beignets; chicken karaage sandwich; biscuits and house-smoked lamb gravy
Insider tip: Duchess makes its own (delicious) almond milk. This is the rare restaurant where the coffee program matches the quality of the cocktails.  
Hit it up: Thursday to Friday, 11 AM–3 PM; Saturday to Sunday, 10 AM–3 PM

5422 College Ave., Oakland; 510-871-3463

Alta MSP
Why it's hot: Daniel Patterson's produce-filled Californian cuisine at the second Alta (attached to Minnesota Street Project gallery, in the Dogpatch) translates well to brunch and is ideal for those tired of the city's long waits and over-the-top brunches.
Must-order: Fried beignets with blackberry compote; Alta scramble; rice porridge; mimosa lab (lets you experiment with different mixers)
Insider tip: The booze-free juice mocktails, like Georgia on my Mind with peach, almond milk and cardamom, are outstanding.  
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 11 AM–2:30 PM

1275 Minnesota St.; 415-580-7662

The New Spot on Polk
Why it's hot: Remember old-school diners? Well, this Russian Hill slice of Americana — albeit, a slightly modernized one with avocado toast and fresh salads — offers a throwback vibe with its breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Must-order: South of the Border omelet with chorizo; The New Spot Benedict; classic patty melt
Insider tip: Weekdays are much calmer than weekends. Take advantage of the daily brunch menu.
Hit it up: Daily, 8 AM–10 PM

2401 Polk St.; 415-913-7775

Finn Town
Why it's hot: New executive chef Steve Dustin just refreshed the accessible brunch offerings at the Castro's contemporary American tavern, now split between breakfast and lunch sections.  
Must-order: Sticky bun; corn flake–crusted fried chicken and waffles; heritage pork Benedict
Insider tip: Check out the cocktails named after musicians and actors. The Not So Green Day will make you feel slightly virtuous with housemade green juice and mezcal.
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 10 AM–3 PM

2251 Market St.; 415-626-3466

Why it's hot: The Saturday-only brunch menu at this Mid-Market spot features a few dinner highlights (cheddar monkey bread, Da Burger) but really hits its stride with its playful twists on brunch classics.
Must-order: Butter fried pancakes; breakfast sandwich with bacon, mushrooms and spinach plus tater tots; Maine-style shrimp roll
Insider tip: The restaurant is in a strategic location for all sorts of weekend activities like museums and theaters.
Hit it up: Saturday, 9 AM–2:30 PM

100 Van Ness Ave.; 415-834-5684

Lucia’s Berkeley
Why it's hot: SF's roster of brunch pizza places (led by veterans Beretta and Fiorella) gets some East Bay competition with this major newcomer offering stellar egg-topped pies emerging from the wood-fired oven.
Must-order: Specky Brecky pie with speck, sundried tomatoes and farm egg; Gus pie with asparagus, crumbled hard-boiled egg and truffle oil; Italian baked eggs
Insider tip: Look beyond the pizzas! Housemade quiche, mascarpone French toast and other brunch-only items are all worth checking out.
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 10:30 AM–2 PM

2016 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 510-225-9468

Foreign Cinema
Why it's hot: The courtyard of the Mission's Cali-Med classic screams "California good life" and visitors and longtime residents alike never tire of lingering at a table on the weekend. Plus, the brunch menu is one of the more eclectic (and frequently changing) in town.
Must-order: Fruit "pop tarts"; Persian flat omelet; poached eggs with duck leg confit; brunch cocktails
Insider tip: Not surprisingly, the patio books up with reservations and walk-ins, resulting in a typical wait. Luckily, the adjacent and recently refurbished Laszlo Bar offers the same menu and a funky vibe — with no wait.
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 11 AM–2:30 PM

2534 Mission St.; 415-648-7600

Why it's hot: With a laid-back surfer vibe, a charming faraway Outer Sunset location by the beach and an eclectic menu, Outerlands remains a brunch star and a leading reason to brave the coastal fog.
Must-order: Cast-iron-baked Dutch pancake; eggs-in-jail; sourdough sticky bun; quiche with rotating seasonal fillings
Insider tip: The weekday breakfast/lunch menu doesn't have the weekend brunch signature dishes but is just as rewarding — with one of SF's best grilled cheese sandwiches and avocado toast variations — with a fraction of the wait time. 
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 9 AM–3 PM

149 Fell St.; 415-660-7701

Why it's hot: Well, it's Nopa. It's always a go-to, whether it's for a burger and cocktail at 11 PM or custard French toast and a Bloody Mary at 11 AM. Savvy SF diners know that no two visits are ever the same for the weekend brunch because, burger aside, the menu constantly changes. Clever daytime cocktails include the Toast & Jam with nutty Amontillado sherry and sweet apricot liqueur.
Must-order: Almond-raspberry coffee cake; custard French toast; house-smoked trout with housemade bagel; any brunch cocktail; any rustic-sounding egg dish
Insider tip: The kitchen opens at 11 AM but locals know to arrive at 10:30 AM when you're allowed to sit at the bar and order coffee. Don't arrive at 11 AM expecting to eat much before 1 PM.
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 11 AM–2:30 PM

560 Divisadero St.; 415-864-8643

1313 Main
Why it's hot: Make an indulgent weekend in Wine Country even more so with a decadent brunch — and it doesn't get more over the top than this Napa menu with foie gras beignets, lobster Benedict and a Bloody Mary card game.
Must-order: Lobster Benedict with avocado; Bloody Mary bar; foie gras beignets; fried chicken and waffles with chile butter
Insider tip: Count this as a stop on your wine tour: The restaurant and wine bar offers 30 wines by the glass, plus free corkage if you bring a bottle that appears on the menu ($25 corkage for other bottles).
Hit it up: Sunday, 10 AM–1 PM

1313 Main St., Napa; 707-258-1313

Why it's hot: Yes, the Marlowe burger is as good as ever. But skip it at brunch because the rest of the nicely curated brunch menu is worth trying, especially SF's best seafood Benedict with shrimp and Dungeness crab.
Must-order: Donuts; crab and shrimp Benedict; French toast soldiers; Pimm's Cup
Insider tip: Save the housemade donuts for dessert. They're the perfect fruity-sweet finish to pair with the soon-to-be iconic chocolate and peanut butter bites.
Hit it up: Saturday to Sunday, 10 AM–2 PM

500 Brannan St.; 415-777-1413

eggs benedict
weekend dining
bloody marys
avocado toast