FEAST: 6 best breakfast bets

Pub date April 26, 2011
SectionFood & Drink

SF: a brunch town if ever there was one. The life of the alternative journalist is such that we’re rarely awake at sunrise, wondering from where the hell our next hangtown fry will materialize. But there are times when it behooves one to dine at 8 a.m. on a weekday (occasions that usually correspond to the appearance of a mother or father). Set that alarm, sweetie: here’s where you’ll find Guardian staff dragging to before a big day.



A menu peppered with delightful little zingers like “What’s grits? It’s that pasty white stuff … like you had in prison,” makes this my favorite sassy breakfast joint in Dogpatch. Just For You offers classic breakfast fare with a Southern twist — biscuits, cornbread, grilled catfish filets, or creole crab cakes to go along with your eggs and home fries. Breakfast is served all day, and if you’re an early bird, you can even score a deal-worthy plate of two pancakes with coffee for just $4.75 — but only if you get there between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. weekdays. A strict schedule — just like you had in prison. (Rebecca Bowe)

732 22nd St., SF. (415) 647-3033, www.justforyoucafe.com



Two good reasons to get up early in the morning. One: you are going on an exciting air voyage. Two: a nice meal is waiting for you. Or both — that’s generally the happy confluence that brings me to JoAnn’s, a cheery diner-like entity en route to the airport, where a display case full of homemade muffins greets early risers and a menu full of American classics and salsa-tinged breakfast items await to congratulate the new dawn. The tiny joint opens at 7:30 a.m. every day, and even if you are flying solo (my favorite), JoAnn’s counter seating provides the perfect perch to munch orange french toast and ponder whether you prefer the x-ray scan or the pat-down. (Caitlin Donohue)

1131 El Camino, South San Francisco. (650) 872-2810



Jim’s is the ultimate greasy spoon, unpretentious, no-fuss diner food perfect for when you just want a simple breakfast and to avoid the scene. You won’t find brioche french toast or bottomless sherbet-colored sparkling drinks on the menu; instead, you’ll find classic breakfast options: eggs, pancakes, waffles — and beer, if that hangover’s knocking. Five bucks gets you eggs, hash browns, bacon, fruit, and toast; for $3 more, you can upgrade to hangtown fry. Speaking of relics, this joint is like the diner that time forgot. Wood-paneled walls and AM Gold on the stereo could keep you lingering till the afternoon. (Jackie Andrews)

2420 Mission, SF. (415) 285-6020



I like to live outside the laws — of good nutrition, that is — and skip breakfast. But on those days when I’m extra-hungry or extra-rich, I’ll pick up a piece of fruit at New Potrero Market, right by the Guardian office. (Just go with whichever looks the most appealing — usually the bananas are pretty good, although they don’t always have them in stock. Apples are a good alternative. I don’t like oranges. Too much work, especially in the morning.) I don’t drink coffee, but I make up for it in Diet Cokes, which are also available at New Potrero Market. True convenience. (Cheryl Eddy)

301 18th St., SF. (415) 282-2225



When I want sheer comfort with a side of 1970s and Audrey Hepburn, I head to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. There, servers call you “hon” as the Beach Boys play on cassette tapes and you sip coffee, gazing at a faded Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster. But this dive provides a lot more to sink one’s teeth into than kitsch. I love Tiffany’s pancakes loaded with fresh blueberries, and they taste even better as you sit at the counter, watching them transform from batter to fluffy cakes on the griddle. For savory contrast (and if you have room), order giant hash brown “sandwiches” stuffed with ham, cheese, onions, and all-around goodness. (Virginia Miller)

2499 San Bruno, SF (415) 468-0977



Don’t be thrown off by Cafe Leila’s flowery San Pablo facade or frilly name. Once you’re inside, it’s serious breakfast time whether you’re a morning person or a hungover owl. With a big dining room and sunny, cute patio, you’ll be sure to find a good amount of personal space to scarf down one of their many innovative breakfasts. Aside from a few everyday bagel options, Cafe Leila comes up with crazy omelet ideas that make me feel special, like the date omelet, a pile of farm eggs with dates and feta. And with three kinds of hot sauce, my condiment voice is always saying “Leilaaaaa.” (Hannah Tepper) 

1724 San Pablo, Berk. (510) 525.7544, www.cafeleila.com