Bottomless mimosas and eggs Benedict are great and all, but a handful of our favorite Bay Area chefs and bartenders are thinking outside the brunch box to great effect. Read on to find out where to dine on morning enchiladas, egg-topped appams and the best darn toast you’ve ever laid eyes on.
The 15-year-old Mission classic Foreign Cinema is known for projecting independent and foreign films in its outdoor courtyard, and that same alfresco patio makes an idyllic, sunlit stage for brunch. Here you can eat Santa Cruz pastured farm eggs poached with duck confit, folded into a spicy Persian omelet or in countless other unexpected creations. The bloody Caesar, garnished with one plump shrimp, washes it all down with a kick. 2535 Mission St., San Francisco. 415.648.7600.
What to try: Housemade seasonal “pop-tart”
Union Square’s iconic Starlight Room has been hosting its Sundays a Drag brunch every Sunday for the past nine years. Arrive an hour before one of two performances for the buffet brunch, then sit back for the high-energy song and dance show featuring eye-poppingly costumed drag queens and transgender performers. Everyone’s welcome and everyone should experience it at least once. 450 Powell St., San Francisco, 415.395.8595.
What to try: Dutch Vice cocktail with Bols Genever and egg whites
Boxing Room’s Louisiana born chef Justin Simoneaux bangs out a plate-licking-good Creole Sunday brunch set to lively jazz. Start with a round of oysters from the raw bar and NOLAcheladas, beer bloody Marys made with roasted tomatoes and barrel-aged triple. The menu does right by Southern classics, but there are also some twists. Think sweet-salty cornbread pudding with a poached egg or a breakfast po’ boy stuffed with eggs, a hot link and garlicky potatoes. 399 Grove St., San Francisco, 415.430.6590.
What to try: Egg-topped cornbread pudding, shrimp and grits
Just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, Copita’s Cal-Mex menu of chilaquiles, enchiladas and flank steak alambres await—all of them brunched up with eggs and infused with garden-fresh ingredients like peppers grown on the restaurant’s farm. Take the ferry from San Francisco and sample a flight from the Tequila bar or order bottomless fresh-juice mimosas for $20. 739 Bridgeway, Sausalito, 415.331.7400.
What to try: Ceviche of the day
For a ritzy Sunday morning with fine Champagne and white tablecloths, Campton Place is your spot. Chef Srijith Gopinathan does elevated classics like crab cake Benedict and malted waffles with butter-roasted stone fruit. But his talent truly shines in Indian-inflected gems like the naan bar with seasonal ingredients. If you really want to do it up, order the prix fixe brunch, which offers three courses for just $50. 340 Stockton St., San Francisco, 415.781.5555.
What to try: Breakfast naan with fried egg, bacon and sorrel; egg appam
San Francisco has the richest Chinese heritage in America, so you should probably try some dim sum while you’re here. Hit up local’s favorite Hong Kong Lounge, where the queue starts soon after the doors open at 10:30 am. Taro dumplings, pork buns and radish cakes are just a few of the delicacies that roll by on carts. Go with as many people as possible so you can try lots of things. 5322 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, 415.668.8836.
What to try: A basket of xiao long bao soup dumplings
For the past several years, San Franciscans have been making quite a fuss about toast—and we’re not talking Wonderbread. Places like The Mill, Trouble Coffee and Boba Guys are taking thick cuts of the highest quality bread and slathering them with the likes of house-ground almond butter and freshly made kaya (coconut jam). Fitting fuel for a day of sight-seeing.
Venture into unknown morning cocktail territory with Bluestem Brasserie’s Karl the Fog coffee cocktail, spiked with five liquors and topped with marshmallow meringue. Or knock back Maven’s Maven Julius, made with rum, fresh-squeezed orange, milk and vanilla, for a liquid creamsicle effect. Don't worry, vodka and tomato juice will be waiting for you back home.