The Best Brunch in San Francisco
Brunch is simply a way of life. It embodies that lazy weekend morning when you sleep in and wake up naturally to a slow day with no rush. You climb out of bed and stretch, taking your time to get ready for the day without timelines, deadlines, or work commitments. Such an easygoing morning takes you to brunch with your best friend, significant other, family, or whoever contributes to a happy and relaxing day. With this mindset established, the biggest challenge lies ahead: where to eat.
San Francisco has an overwhelming amount of brunch spots, and choosing which one is worthy of your appetite and money is no easy task, so here is a short list of some top-notch brunch places to satisfy your inner foodie.
1. Brenda’s French Soul Food (652 Polk @ Eddy)
With its famous, savory and sweet beignets among its many notable brunch items, Brenda’s has earned one of the longest brunch lines in the city.
The crawfish beignets are the must-order dish — filled with gooey cheddar cheese, scallions and crawfish and topped with a dusting of cayenne for a hint of spice, it hits your taste buds like an explosion in a soft cloud-like texture, making it one of the most unique brunch items this city has to offer.
Another noteworthy menu item is the Hangtown Fry — a crispy oyster, bacon and scallion scramble paired with grits or hash and a cream biscuit or toast. Easy choice here; choose the biscuit for its soft, buttery taste and texture. The eggs Benedict with fried chicken is also one of the most popular menu items — atop two cream biscuits lay perfectly poached eggs smothered with creole hollandaise and served with either grits or hash. Needless to say, deciding what to order is not easy, so be prepared to find yourself itching to go back and try all the delicious offerings.
2. Plow (1299 18th St)
Tucked away between two homes, Plow is a hidden gem in a quiet part of San Francisco’s Potrero Hill. In addition to serving Californian cuisine, owners Maxine Siu and Joel Bleskacek believe in buying local, so ingredients are all sourced from local farms. They also wanted the restaurant to feel like an extension of their home, so everything is served amidst a small cozy environment bursting with hospitality. Serving only breakfast and brunch everyday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Plow is perfect for those who crave brunch on a weekday. One of the more popular dishes is “the plow,” which may sound like your typical eggs, sausage, potatoes, and pancakes combination but offers unique flavor and texture. The pork sausage is homemade, and the pancakes are fluffy melt-in-your-mouth lemon ricotta confections. The potatoes are seasoned with rosemary and thyme, and the skin is cooked to the perfect degree of crunchiness. The fried egg sandwich also belies its ho-hum name. It’s made with two soft-fried eggs, sharp cheddar, aioli and frisée on top of an Acme bun, all accompanied by plow potatoes. Plow is heavenly — the very feeling you seek when brunching.
3. Bluestem Brasserie (1 Yerba Buena Lane)
For those preferring a classier dining atmosphere, Bluestem Brasserie is the perfect place. With its laneway entrance, it’s slightly tucked away from other classy downtown restaurants and a wine bar. The interior is modern, sleek and simple, producing an inviting atmosphere. However, even if you are not one for fancy places, Bluestem is a must, if only for, their unique twist on chicken and waffles — made with bacon! Yes bacon bits are baked inside the waffle, and to top it all off, the entree is served with whipped maple cream cheese. Another favorite is the smooth spongy cinnamon French toast, which comes with hazelnut creme chantilly and seasonal fruit. If you find yourself on Yerba Buena Lane on a weekend evening Bluestem is also a great place to stop in for an appetizer or a drink. The seasonal cheese board is always masterfully crafted, with a selection of three cheeses and nuts, dates and quince paste. In the mood for an adult beverage? Bluestem serves unique cocktails — like Great Pear with pear vodka, pear purée, St. Germain and lemon, and the Grasshopper with creme de menthe, white creme de cocoa and cream. Bluestem also offers 12 wines on tap sourced directly from Napa and Sonoma.
4. Maven (598 Haight St.)
Amongst the plethora of delicious restaurants located in Lower Haight, Maven can definitely hold its own. With its focus on both aesthetics and cuisine, the wooden tones and the communal tables create an organically social atmosphere. Large windows line both sides of the restaurant, creating a bright and sunny environment, perfect for brunch. Now, onto the food and drink. The dish to get is the duck hash with fried egg and sofregit — an iconic tomato and caramelized onion sauce of the Mediterranean Catalan. The duck is soft and juicy and pairs perfectly with the egg. Maven is known for coupling its cuisine with cocktails, so combine the dish with a tasty Maven Julius — an orange, malt and vanilla cocktail that comes with or without rum — for an amazing brunch experience. The casual environment combined with the fresh local ingredients produce a delicious brunch with a classy California vibe.
5. Park Tavern (1652 Stockton St.)
Located around the historic Washington Square Park in North Beach, Park Tavern is an upscale American spot that serves seafood and meat dishes based on seasonal availability. The brunch menu is quite extensive with starters, pastries, sweets from the griddle, baguettes with jelly and nut butters, savory dishes and of course, cocktails and wines. One of the standout dishes is the avocado toast with whole wheat sourdough, chile, lemon and sea salt. For people like me with low spice tolerance, don’t worry, the seasoning is very subtle. Stronger sea salt balances the creamy avocado’s more subtle flavor, and lemon adds a nice zestiness for a fresh combination. Balance out the palate with something a little sweeter, such as the French toast smothered in Montmorency cherry compote and mascarpone. Creamy mascarpone complements fresh fruit for a delightful French toast. Menu items change from time to time, so make sure to stop by again and try something new.