Best Brunches in San Francisco

April 4, 2018
by Zagat Staff

23 places to plan your weekend around.

b. patisserie
Patisserie · Lower Pacific Heights · $
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

"Even when compared with Paris standards" , this "charming" Lower Pacific patisserie/cafe is an "awe-inspiring" showcase for baker Belinda Leong’s "world-class" "array" of "decadent pastries" (the "buttery" "kouign amann reigns supreme" ); the space sports an "appealing" "European feel" , and while "the line can be daunting" , "dessert addicts" "pretty much can't go wrong."
Tartine Bakery
Bakery · The Mission · $
Food 4.7 · Decor 3.6 · Service 3.7

"In a class by itself" for "sumptuous, buttery" specialties "fresh out of the oven" , this famed Mission bakery produces "last meal requests" including "spectacular pastries" ( "especially the morning buns" ), "the perfect croissant" , "spot-on delicious" hot-pressed sandwiches and "unmatched" country bread that quickly sells out; the cafe section’s "totally overcrowded" , "the wait can be grueling" and the "staff could be friendlier" , but "you’ll be amply rewarded."
Italian · Lower Pacific Heights · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

"Sensational" Italian dishes, including "outrageously good" pastas, pair with "noteworthy" wines from the Boot at this A16 sibling in Lower Pac Heights, which consistently "nails the risks it takes" in the kitchen; "truly impressive" service helps justify the "splurge" , and while the "elegant-shoebox" setting is undeniably "tight" , there’s an "amazing" chef’s counter and even "sitting at the bar" is a "joy."
Italian · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.3

"More relaxed" than its sibling Quince next door, this "remarkable" Downtown Italian from Lindsay and Michael Tusk excels thanks to "inventive, beautifully executed" pastas, wood-fired pizzas and more matched with a "rewarding" and affordable wine list that tempers the "expensive" tabs; "spectacular" service keeps the "social" atmosphere humming, and though it's "difficult" to land a table in the "constantly full" (and "loud" ) room, it's definitely "worth the trouble" ; P.S. the family-style "Sunday dinners are a must."
New American · Alamo Square · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

"The overall buzz has not subsided" at this Alamo Square Californian that’ll "rock your socks" with "earthy" locavore dishes to "dream about" (including "acclaimed" wood-fired burgers) delivered alongside "outstanding cocktails" in an "energizing" duplex space manned by an "efficient" crew; prices are "decent" , brunches are "fantastic" and it's a "favorite late-night spot" , so the "only disappointing thing is the wait."
Stones Throw
New American · Russian Hill · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

Right on the Hyde Street cable car line, this "neighborhoody" Russian Hill bistro from vets of Michael Mina and Fat Angel offers a "delightful" (if "limited" ) Cal-American menu accompanied by "hard-to-find" beers and wines; the "cozy-chic" setting is in keeping with the "welcoming" service and "pricey but not-over-the-top" tabs, making it "worth many return trips."
New American · Presidio Heights · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

"Outstanding" , "beautifully prepared" New American cuisine served by "exceptional" staffers who treat everyone "like VIPs" makes this "elegantly appointed" Presidio Heights haunt perfect for "celebrations and milestone events" ; prices are definitely skewed toward "the five percent" , but the "flexible" setup ( "casual at the bar, formal in the dining room" ) keeps it attractive to all comers.
Craftsman and Wolves
Pastry · The Mission · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

The "mind-blowing pastries" are a "feast for the eyes and taste buds" at these "ultrahip" patisseries from William Werner, where "totally fascinating" sweet and savory goods (the egg-in-a-muffin Rebel Within "is a revelation" ) are "curated" in "jewel-like" fashion; the "warehouse chic" surroundings are likewise "a total delight" , "but prepare to spend money."
Brenda's French Soul Food
Creole · Tenderloin · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

Folks with "big appetites" like this New Orleans–style soul food joint in the Tenderloin, citing "exceptional" dishes like its "divine" shrimp and grits and "out-of-this-world" beignets; "cheap" tabs and a no-reservation rule make for "long waits" ( "get there before the crowds!" ), but fans insist it’s so "worth it."
Boulettes Larder
New American · Embarcadero · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.0

Owners "Amaryll and Lori clearly do what they love" at their Ferry Building eatery overlooking the bay, where they've "raised the bar" with the likes of "warm morning buns" and other "beautifully prepared" (and relatively "expensive" ) New American breakfast and lunch fare out of the open kitchen, plus the "absolute best beignets" at Sunday brunch; the communal tables are an "experience" , and you can also pick up "delicious" premade meals to go (now on Saturdays only); P.S. the adjacent Bouli Bar offers more seating plus full lunch, dinner and drink menus.
Foreign Cinema
Californian · The Mission · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.3

This "semi-hidden" "hipster" Mission stalwart may be known for its "fun drive-in movie accents" , but the "inventive" , locally sourced Cal-Med dinners (and "amazing" brunches) get a "standing ovation" too; whether dining alfresco on the "awesome patio" beneath the "twinkly lights" – while the likes of "My Dinner With Andre" screens "on the wall behind you" – or nestled inside by the fire, the "festive" vibe, "delicious" cocktails and "accommodating" service all help make it the ultimate "first-date" or "special-occasion" go-to.
Californian · Potrero Hill · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.2

"Delicious" , "locally sourced" breakfast and lunch bites (including "amazing home fries" and lemon ricotta pancakes "to die for" ) have insiders arriving "early" to avoid "torturous" waits at this Potrero Hill Californian cafe; while the nothing-fancy interior belies the spendy tabs, "friendly service" and a no-pressure vibe help make it a "favorite" of a "hip young crowd."
Marla Bakery Restaurant
New American · Outer Richmond · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.1

"Run by maniacs for quality" , this Outer Richmond "discovery" produces "excellent" breads and pastries along with "delicious" New American fare for breakfast, "light lunch" and weekend brunch; the "friendly service" , "sweet" interior and "amazing backyard" help distract from "higher than typical prices."
French · Cole Valley · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

"C'est magnifique!" exclaim locals about this "small" but "dependable" "slice of Paris in Cole Valley" that's "roaringly busy" at brunch (served daily) when the "extremely long wait" for a table is rewarded with "fantastic" food from a "warm, friendly" staff; it's also "lovely" in the evenings out on the "magical" heated patio, where Bring Your Dog to Dinner commences every Monday; P.S. "now tips are included in the bill."
Mission Beach Cafe
Cafe · The Mission · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

Weekend noshers show up "early" at this Mission Californian for the "fantastic brunch" featuring "bold, reinvented classics" and "huge mimosas" ; at other times, it turns out lunch and dinner for "midrange prices" while "kind servers" make even a newcomer "feel like a regular."
20th Century Cafe
Cafe · Hayes Valley · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.3

Conceived by "charming-as-can-be" "pastry genius Michelle Polzine" , this "super-cute" Hayes Valley corner bakery beckons with "exceptional" Viennoiserie "gems" such as a "to-die-for" Sachertorte and "many-layered Russian honeycake" (a "must-try" ), plus "outstanding" savory items like pierogi, knishes and bagels; "prices are a bit high" , but the "adorable" "Eastern European" –inspired setting offers a rare "vintage-immersive cafe experience" that's ideal "for slowing down and enjoying" the day.
Rose's Cafe
Italian · Cow Hollow · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

"Union Street swells" frequent this all-day Cow Hollow cafe whose "delicious" Italian eats and "welcoming feel" make it a "neighborhood favorite" ; also a "brunch staple" (the signature "breakfast pizza a must" ), it gets "crowded on weekends" and the outdoor seating fills up fast "when it's sunny."
Italian · Dogpatch · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

A "happening" spot in Dogpatch, this "sunny" , "warm community" place serves up an "inventive" , "satisfying" Cal-Italian menu of "delicious" thin-crust pizzas, "jewel-green" salads and other seasonal plates in "designerly" digs with a "fun-to-watch" open kitchen, "dog-friendly" sidewalk seating and adjacent coffee bar; service can be "spotty" but usually makes you feel like you're "eating at a friend's house" (while drinking "excellent beer and wine" ).
American · Marina District · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.1

"Bringing refinement" to "casual" American fare, this "friendly" "Marina surprise" is popular with "the young and pretty set" for its "off-the-hook" burger, "sharing" plates and "awesome" brunch; it’s a "busy" "hangout" blending "industrial and classic-bar" vibes, with sidewalk tables for "quality people-watching."
American · Outer Sunset · $$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

Done up in "weather-beaten-chic" style, this Outer Sunset New American rolls out "delicious" , "affordable" fare served by a "nice-as-pie" team; there’s a decided "hipster" vibe in the air and "more space" since they remodeled, though you still might experience "long lines" at prime times.
1300 On Fillmore
Southern American · Fillmore District/Western Addition · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.2

Known for its "legendary" Sunday gospel brunch, this "sophisticated" , "even sexy" Western Addition "standby" lures a "lively" crowd with "tasty" "haute soul" and Southern food plus "hospitality" to match; with a "cool" bar scene and "bonus live jazz" Friday-Saturday nights, it’s also a "nice dinner option" for music lovers already "heading to a show" on Fillmore Street ( "if a little on the pricey side" ).
Tartine Manufactory
Bakery · The Mission · $$

San Francisco’s legendary bakery expands into spacious, multipurpose Mission quarters that also house a coffee counter, ice cream parlor and midpriced Californian cafe and bar serving wine, beer and low-proof cocktails. With soaring ceilings and a modern, industrial-chic look (including stoneware from neighboring Heath Ceramics), this production kitchen and food hall–style destination hopes to elevate local cuisine to a new level.
Wise Sons Bagel & Bakery
Bagel · Fillmore District/Western Addition · $

The Wise Sons sandwich guys are back with this Fillmore Street bakery and bagelry offering artfully crafted rounds of bread with cream cheese, smoked salmon schmear and plenty of other pairings, along with well-priced pastries, bagel sandwiches, coffee and tea. The compact, contemporary space features blond wood, a handful of seats and a full production kitchen.