FEAST: 10 kick-ass brunches

We here at the Guardian don’t survive on green buds and printer ink alone. We eat real food. Sometimes! But we do get up late and hungover. While we often forgo fancy brunch — unless we save our pennies for the amazing eggs-meet-legs “Sunday’s a Drag” buffet at Harry Denton’s (www.harrydenton.com) or dim sum nirvana at Yank Sing (www.yanksing.com) or Ton Kiang (www.tonkiang.net) — we’ll sure as shootin’ shell out for thrifty chilaquiles and bloody marys, especially the way the Bay makes ’em. Here are some of our dearest bleary-eyed, late-morning tummy fillers. (Marke B.)

 

BASHFUL BULL TOO

There are days when you wake up with a bladder full of Jameson’s and a fervent wish to sink into a salty, unglamorous world of egg and cheese. These are the mornings when bottomless mimosas and goat cheese frittatas sound like fightin’ words. Easy tiger, I got you — just slump into a booth at Bashful Bull Too, the most standard of Outer Sunset diners. There’s no live jazz band, no “scene” at all — just you and your greasy calories. Get down on their cheap plates of hash browns and bacon, or better yet, a burger. Slabs of ground beef are acceptable fare when, after all, you’re having breakfast at 2 p.m. (Caitlin Donohue)

3600 Taraval, SF. (415) 759-8112

 

BEAN BAG CAFÉ

In you’re from the Midwest, good brunch spots are distinguished by waitresses who call you “hon” and have your coffee waiting for you before you sit down. Become a regular at Bean Bag Café in the Western Addition, and they’ll do all that and more. Bean Bag’s extensive breakfast and lunch menu and progressive cooking staff means never having to decide if it’s too late for Goldilocks oatmeal (yep, it’s just right) or too early for pancakes and beer. Speaking of pancakes, the Bean Bag buttermilk, customized with bananas and caramelized walnuts on top, is a must-have. Pair it with scrambled eggs drenched in Tabasco, and you’re set until 3 p.m., when Bean Bag kicks off its happy hour with beer for $1.75. Other highlights: sunshine and a petting zoo of scruffy but wuvable dogs outside. (Diane Sussman)

601 Divisadero, SF. (415)-563-3634

 

CAFE DU SOLEIL

Lower Haight — known for its nicoise? C’est vrai! The salad nicoise at Cafe Du Soleil is a stunner, bursting with tender tuna, piquant greens, and enough fresh fixings to ensure some inner sunshine. But don’t stop there — or at the pastry case in front, with delectable goodies like croques madames and hazelnut chocolate croissants. Soleil’s salmon tortilla, a sort of deconstructed-quiche pyramid topped with lovely lox and drizzled with smoky romesco, is this laidback Parisian hang’s brunchtime piece de resistance. Bonus: hunky scruffsters and tattooed ladies. (Marke B.)

200 Fillmore, SF. (415) 934-8637. www.soleilsf.com

 

CHLOE’S

Let’s face it, one aspect of brunch — at least on a Sunday — is the wait. Chloe’s is no exception. The restaurant’s rep and tiny size mean that while weekdays are fine, on the weekend you will be waiting in a (loose) line. The upside is that Chloe’s is on a quiet corner of Church Street, so on a sunlit day, you’ll get fresh air and nothing noisier or more imposing than the people-watching pleasure of the J-Church sliding by. Once inside, indulge your sweet tooth: two highlights of the low-key menu are french toast made with croissants (served with strawberries and powdered sugar) and banana walnut pancakes, a Chloe’s specialty. Chloe’s offers some pleasant, simple variations on scrambled eggs, and the fresh fruit and white rosemary toast to compliment them. This may be Noe Valley, but the coffee is Twin Peaks good. (Johnny Ray Huston)

1399 Church, SF. (415) 648-4116

 

CHOW

The agony of brunch, since it allows for judgment-free consumption of lunch dishes or breakfast dishes, means having to choose between savory or sweet, sandwich or omelet, salad or hash browns. Ten minutes alone can be devoted to the age-old question of pancake or eggs benedict? Coffee or cocktail? Pancake or … This is where Chow ends the cycle of neurosis. At Chow, you can order one egg benedict and one pancake, accompanied by one cup of coffee and one wine mojito. Plus, Chow has two pancakes without peer: the blueberry with warm blueberry sauce and mascarpone cheese, and Marion’s ricotta pancake with lemon. Get one of each! Of course, if you want the chilaquiles or a cheesy scramble, Chow will happily oblige. Watch them start to emit a soft, warm glow when paired with a blushing bellini. (Diane Sussman)

212 Church and 1245 Ninth Ave. 415-552-2469; 415-665-9912, www.chowfoodbar.com

 

HOMEMADE CAFÉ

It’s Saturday morning-slipping-toward-noon, and there are few reasons to expend the effort to pick your fuzzball head up off the pillow it dropped onto in the after-party wee hours. Curled in your cocoon, there is but one comforting thought: breakfast! Few places can revive the soul and satisfy the belly as proficiently as Homemade Café. You’d be wise to choose the spinach, mushroom, and feta omelet. Sweet or spicy is a tough choice, though, since there are spectacularly fluffy blueberry pancakes to be had as well. It’s crucial that you remember this magical phrase: “Upgrade to Home-Fry Heaven.” They’ll arrive smothered in cheese, salsa, sour cream, and a choice of guacamole or pesto. You will feel alive again — at least until naptime. (Rebecca Bowe)

2454 Sacramento, Berk. (510) 845-1940

 

LIME

I love Lime. Not just because it offers a pretty good assortment of belly-filling foodstuffs on Sunday mornings or the hip and lively atmosphere — but because of the bottomless mimosas and bloody marys. Now, I could try to compare Lime’s eggs benedict to others I’ve eaten, but why bother? There are bottomless fucking mimosas and bloody marys, people! Who cares about the food when I can get stupid drunk with my friends at 11 a.m.? In fact, I can’t recall a time when we weren’t asked to leave, albeit very nicely by the wait staff. Just be careful, those drinks will knock you on your ass and give you a hangover by 4 p.m. Guaranteed. (Ben Hopfer)

2247 Market St., SF. 415.621.5256, www.lime-sf.com

 

LYNN & LU’S ESCAPADE CAFE

Lynn and Lu, I heart you. Snag a quaint table under an umbrella on Grand Avenue or find a spot on the back patio for a beautiful sunny brunch. The morning portions are fat, happy, and classic. Three-egg omelets come bursting with your filler of choice and arrive sitting next to a pile of yummy roasted potatoes. Those with stomachs bigger than their eyes will be relieved to see that the Escapade frittatas look more like a crowd-pleasing tower of peppers, veggies, and eggs than a paltry single serving — everyone will waddle away with a smile. The service is fabulous, the price is just right, and the food comes quick enough to whisk away any dream-soaked cobwebs. (Amber Schadewald)

3353 Grand Ave, Oakland, 510-835-5705

 

MAMA’S ROYAL CAFÉ

Imagine a John Waters time warp with rickety counter chairs, a napkin art gallery, and a suggestive painting of female softball players with a giant bat, and you’ve just about captured the quirkiness of Mama’s Royal Café. The home fries, hollandaise dishes, and rib-sticking omelets are consistently satisfying, but weekly specials also offer seasonal and delicious treats like lemon-ricotta pancakes with blood orange curd. The wait staff often serves on hipster time, which, quite frankly, works out perfectly since Mama’s is best enjoyed with friends on a lazy Sunday as you discuss, or help each other remember, last night’s misadventures. (Robyn Johnson)

4012 Broadway, Oakland. (510) 547-7600. www.mamasroyalcafeoakland.com

 

STACKS

After a recent multihour hike around the Presidio, I found myself ravenous. You know the feeling — fully prepared to combine breakfast, lunch, dinner, a multitude of snacks, and dessert into a single meal. Where better to do that than at Stacks, the San Francisco location of a mini-chain (others are in Menlo Park and Burlingame) that looks like a Denny’s that got an upscale makeover, with some of the biggest floral arrangements you’ll ever see. Speaking of gigantic, Stacks’ portions are robust, and their menu is a monster: over a dozen omelet choices; copious varieties of pancakes, crepes, and waffles; sandwiches and burgers; daily specials; and at least seven different smoothies. (Cheryl Eddy)

501 Hayes, SF. (415) 241-9011. www.stacksrestaurant.com

 

TAQUERIA LOS COYOTES

Being on a tight budget has forced me to get creative, and this underdog taqueria located on a block full of distracting alternatives has become my favorite spot for a weekend breakfast burrito. There are never any lines, the food is as cheap as it comes, and the egg and chorizo burrito with beans, cheese, and rice is guaranteed to soak up a whole weekend of leftover mischief hanging. It’s even big enough to share with any co-conspirators still hanging out as well. (Paula Connelly)

3036 16th St., SF. (415) 861-3708. www.taquerialoscoyotes.com

 

ZAZIE

Yes, there’ll be a wait — but it’s more than worth it at Zazie, a French bistro that is San Francisco’s best patio brunch spot. The heart of the menu resides in the poached egg dishes (my favorite is La Mer, with real Dungeness crab, avocado, and green onion), seven to choose from, each with a choice of one, two, or three perfectly poached eggs, wonderfully tangy hollandaise sauce, and a side of potatoes fried up with, get this, roasted garlic cloves. Yum! Everything on the brunch menu is awesome, from challah french toast to scrambled eggs Fontainebleau to the full-on trout du sud. C’est magnifique! (Steven T. Jones)

941 Cole Street, SF. (415) 564-5332, www.zaziesf.com