Don’t discount breakfast. Although it may not spark as much passion as, say, a multi-course tasting menu at that critically acclaimed spot that everyone has heard of, breakfast at an incredible restaurant can be an incandescent experience. These spots give the first meal of the day the respect it deserves. We’ve gathered a list of the most popular — and most delicious — spots serving up unparalleled breakfast cuisine in San Francisco on Caviar. Read on for our take.
1. Brenda's Meat & Three
New Orleans native Brenda Buenviajé has made a mark in San Francisco with a series of restaurants that are as expressive as they are delicious. Breakfast at this satisfying restaurant invokes Buenviajé’s hometown with beignets, cream biscuits, a Creole-fried chicken cutlet, and, naturally, country sausage gravy. Sautéed shrimp and cheddar grits served with spicy tomato-bacon gravy is a must for those with a taste for heat, as is the spicy fried chicken: two pieces of spicy fried chicken, which come with fries, cole slaw, a cream biscuit, and hot pepper jelly.
Lower Nob Hill’s Bandit is a burger joint at lunch, but in the early hours of the day, it’s a place to grab a superlative breakfast sando. The peerless Brekkie Sandwich features scrambled eggs, a house-made pork sausage patty, Tillamook cheddar cheese, smashed tater tots, caramelized onions, and jalapeño relish. Add a side of super-crispy tater tots, and you’re ready to roll into the day. Of course, no one is stopping you from starting the day with a burger, either. The Bad Mofo Burger, made with American Kobe beef, butcher’s-cut bacon, Muenster cheese, and caramelized onions, is a good way to go, too.
3. Craftsman and Wolves
This Mission District bakery serves baked goods, sandwiches, and other delightful breakfast fare, and you don’t even have to change out of your PJs to enjoy it. The frittata sandwich includes vegetables, Swiss cheese, and béchamel, and comes on toasted milk bread with a side of house-pickled carrots. Depending on the season, the vegetables in that frittata might be wine-braised leeks, asparagus, or sautéed hen-of-the-wood mushrooms with garlic, thyme, and dill. And among the most coveted morning items on the menu: the Rebel — a savory pastry made with Gruyere cheese and caramelized onions and stuffed with a Scotch egg. (It comes with instructions for heating at home.)
4. Vive La Tarte
In Noe Valley, find Vive La Tarte, a bakery dedicated to handmade pastries and artisan coffees. You’ll find a smashed avocado toast here, but it rises to the occasion with the addition of a poached egg, farmer’s cheese, pickled tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, and basil aioli, served, of course, on the restaurant’s homemade sourdough. The fried egg sandwich, too, is a revelation: two fried eggs served on the bakery’s homemade sourdough, along with basil aioli, bacon, cheddar, and avocado. Traditionalists can also opt for the Vive breakfast, which comes with bacon, scrambled eggs, Vive potatoes, and a side of the bakery’s árbol chile hot sauce.
5. Joe & the Juice
With multiple Bay Area locations, including the delivery-friendly Fillmore Street location, this liquid-plentiful spot offers more than meets the eye. Yes, you should definitely order the cerulean Blue Magic, a smoothie rich with blue spirulina, hemp seeds, avocado, dates, lemon, and a blend of cashew and coconut milks. But for those who prefer chewing over sipping, the Serrano ham sando is the way to go: Spanish ham, avocado, mozzarella, and tomato dressed with pesto, salt, and pepper. Delish.
6. Nourish Cafe
Located right near the Tenderloin, this plant-based café offers up everything from breakfast sandwiches to smoothie bowls to waffles. The imminently popular bibimbap bowl comes with brown jasmine rice, tofu marinated in garlic and tamari, avocado, mixed greens, carrot, cabbage, red bell pepper, cucumber, bean sprouts, and a Sriracha-miso dressing. For those with a sweet tooth, the gluten-free Belgian-style quinoa waffle is a must; it comes topped with bananas and maple syrup and is naturally sweetened with coconut sugar.
7. Jane The Bakery
Those in the mood for carbs in the morning should direct their delivery intentions immediately toward Jane The Bakery in the Lower Fillmore, chef Amanda Michael’s ode to lovely baked things (and they make salads, too!). In the mornings, there are breads (including creative options such as chocolate hazelnut cherry sourdough) and excellent pastries ranging from croissants to nutella buns. Note that quantities are limited and the options change regularly. Add a green smoothie (add banana for extra sweetness), and you’re ready to roll.
8. Brenda's French Soul Food
Located in the Tenderloin, Brenda’s French Soul Food is Brenda Buenviajé’s take on French-inflected Southern food. Do not skip the molasses–black walnut iced coffee, served with an ample helping of whipped cream. The grillades and grits — beef cutlets braised in Creole gravy and served with grits and two eggs any style — is the perfect marriage of Southern sensibility and French technique. For something a little lighter, though no less impressive, tuck into the succotash and white cheddar omelet with corn, zucchini, tomato, lima beans, onion, and sweet pepper. It comes with grits, potato hash, and a choice of a biscuit or toast.
9. Sweet Maple
Lower Pacific Heights’ Sweet Maple is a laid-back café dedicated to breakfast and lunch. The restaurant’s trademarked Millionaire’s Bacon — thick slabs of bacon that have been baked with brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and black pepper — is the to-die-for order here. But the options are truly endless, with whole categories of omelets, Benedicts, and more. The Oscar, an eggs Benedict featuring fresh Dungeness crab, asparagus, capers, lemon, Parmesan, and a cucumber-wasabi Hollandaise, is an unparalleled treat.
10. Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery
This Lower Nob Hill breakfast-and-more spot is dedicated to the fine art of crêpes — paper-thin pancakes that can be prepared both savory and sweet. Among the restaurant’s savory offerings: the Torino with feta, fresh basil, tomato, and mushroom; the Florentine, with cheddar, cottage cheese, spinach, and onion; and the Eden, with salmon, capers, onion, Fontina cheese, and dill. Dessert crêpes include the Nutella crêpe, the peanut butter crêpe with marshmallows and chocolate sauce, and the dulce crêpe, with caramelized pecans and dulce de leche.
11. Cinderella Russian Bakery & Cafe
This Russian bakery and café in Inner Richmond has been churning out baked goods and traditional plates since way back in 1953. The potato vareniki — a style of dumpling filled with potatoes and fried onions and served with sour cream — is absolutely worth ordering, as are the small sweet cheese blini and blinchiki. There is also an entire category dedicated to those aforementioned dumplings, which are essentially Russian pierogi, and which are offered in both savory and sweet iterations.
12. Lou’s Cafe (Geary Blvd.)
There are multiple Lou’s locations in SF, but this one is in Richmond. Open through lunch, the restaurant is known for its tasty breakfast sandwiches. The Corned Beef Hash Sammie is an excellent way to go: corned beef, cheddar cheese, egg, hash browns, and Lou’s special sauce on ciabatta. The Southwestern Omelette Sammie also comes highly recommended and includes ham, jalapeño, red onion, roasted peppers, cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, hash browns, and Lou’s special sauce, all served up on a torpedo roll.
13. Pork Store Cafe
With two locations (one in the Mission and one in the Haight), Pork Store Cafe serves up rib-sticking comfort food for those in the know — and has been since it was opened by Czech immigrants in 1916. Order the chicken fried steak, a tender piece of meat that has been breaded, fried, and smothered in chicken gravy; it’s served with two eggs any style. The 49’er is also an excellent option: two eggs with potatoes or grits, biscuits, and sausage or veggie gravy.
14. Tartine Manufactory
Bread in San Francisco does not get much more iconic than Tartine. Tartine Bakery, Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s game-changing bread outpost, opened in 2002, and Tartine Manufactory, their expanded space in the Mission, opened 14 years later. The Morning Bun, adorned with cinnamon, sugar, and orange zest, is the perfect way to greet the day, as is the seasonal fresh fruit tart with Bavarian cream. Order a country sourdough loaf for later, though; you certainly won’t regret it.
15. Squat & Gobble
Located in the Marina District, this all-day restaurant serves up a delicious croissant sandwich. But many come for the sweet and savory crêpes. The Hangover Crêpe is overfilled with ground Angus beef, American cheese, onions, and bacon bits and is served with house potatoes and a house salad. One standout sweet crêpe: the Whole Thing, stuffed with bananas, roasted walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and Nutella. It comes topped with powdered sugar and is accompanied by vanilla bean ice cream.
16. Bean Bag Cafe
In the Lower Haight you’ll find this classic café, which offers up everything from breakfast burritos (stuffed with eggs, red potatoes, black beans, avocado, cheddar cheese, and salsa) to buttermilk pancakes. Sweet and savory crêpes are an added treat. End breakfast with a bang with the restaurant’s Lyon, an ode to the French region. It comes filled with lemon mousse and is topped with lemon butter and a brown sugar sauce.
17. IL Canto Cafe
This Financial District spot serves up breakfast for those on the go (or, in the case of delivery, those intent on staying put). The Chipotle Meatlover Burrito, which comes grilled, features sausage, bacon, ham, and a homemade chipotle sauce, as well as mixed cheese, two eggs, red bell peppers, green onions, and Sriracha. Or, opt for the salmon lox bagel, with high-quality lox, tomato, red onion, capers, and, naturally, cream cheese.
18. The Posh Bagel (Sutter St.)
The Financial District outpost of this popular bagel spot serves up fresh bagels made daily, as well as a host of bagel-based sandwiches. If you’re the bagel-and-schmear type, choose your fave (flavors range in the double digits), choose a spread (everything from honey to jalapeño), and decide whether or not you want any additional add-ons (like ham, cucumber, and sprouts). For those in the mood for a sandwich instead: the Egg Supreme, with scrambled egg, bacon, cheese, spinach, and tomato, served, of course, on a bagel, is classic perfection.
19. Mymy Coffee Shop
Nob Hill is home to this popular breakfast and brunch spot, where plentiful plates are the name of the game. The 6-Hour Corned Beef Hash is a winner for the morning meat lover and includes homemade corned beef brisket, two eggs any style, onions, potatoes, bell peppers, fresh salsa verde, and a choice of toast. For midmorning dessert, don’t skip the Challah Bread French Toast, made with mascarpone, roasted macadamia nuts, seasonal fruits, and maple syrup; it’s served with one perfectly salty strip of bacon.