Absinthe recalls the days of Dorothy Parker and her circle of witty, sardonic critics. Along with dicing celebrities, they took great pleasure in good food and drink. Plenty of both can be found here, and weekend brunch is especially delightful. Champagne and wines balance the cuisine, which includes cold seafood platters, imported French cheeses, and coq au vin. A tasty caesar salad and a risotto with fava beans, basil, and parmesan are also great options. To sum up – absolutely faultless! If you can't make it for brunch, its' definitely worth visiting at night, where the bar serves some of the most inventive cocktails in the city.
Recommended for Brunch because: Absinthe is on the higher-end brunch scale, for those who want a more luxurious brunch.
Tom's expert tip: Also a great spot for cocktails.
When you're not in the mood for an ordinary brunch, head to Brenda's French Soul Food. If you think there's an interesting chef behind the idea of pairing French with soul, you're absolutely right. Chef Brenda brought her unique vision from a small town just outside of New Orleans, jazzing and spicing up her menu every step of the way. The must-have beignets on the weekend brunch menu will bring everyone who has every been to New Orleans right back to that magical and beautiful town. And the butter-pecan sauce on the French Toast is well worth that additional dollar.
Recommended for Brunch because: Brenda is one of the most popular brunch spots in the ever-evolving Tenderloin neighborhood.
Tom's expert tip: For those who like a savory brunch, try the Shrimp and Goat Cheese Omelette.
This Nob Hill brunch spot offers Bay Area diners a comfortable, bistro-style atmosphere and refreshing mid-morning eats. The menu is centered around fresh organic produce, much of which is gathered from local farms, and changes depending on seasonal availability. Olea only uses cage-free eggs from Glaum Ranch in the nearby town of Aptos. You can always find Olea's signature dishes, however, including the challah custard toast and eggs baked in a cazuela. Or try eggs baked in a cazuela with tomato sauce, steamed farro spezzato, diced niman ranch applewood smoked ham and basil-almond pesto. No matter your order, a cup of Blue Bottle coffee makes the perfect addition.
Recommended for Brunch because: Like Universal Cafe, Olea goes to great lengths to use local and sustainable food.
Tom's expert tip: This is a good choice if you have a large group.
Don't be taken aback if the lively owner of this cozy brunch spot hails you from the street, inviting you into the comfortable neighborhood bistro. Expertly prepared food is a mainstay, and pastries (like raspberry and apple turnovers) almost always sell out. Still, you can make the most of omelets, baguette sandwiches, eggs Benedict, goat cheese salad, pasta, and desserts. Prices are surprisingly affordable, which is always a nice perk, especially when you get to choose from some exceptional French dishes such as "Oeufs Baker Street Bistro" (Ratatouille, poached eggs, English Muffin, tomato sauce) or Steak à Cheval ( the classic Steak and egg.)
Recommended for Brunch because: Baker Street Bistro is a nice choice for those who wanta French-style brunch.
Tom's expert tip: Try the Oeufs Benedicte: Canadian Bacon, poached eggs, English Muffin and Hollandaise sauce.
Act fast and early if you're thinking about Mama's because after lunch you're out of luck. And you certainly don't want to miss their array of perfectly prepared breakfast foods. Generous portions are standard, whether you order a fluffy omelet, a stack of hotcakes or light, fragrant French toast. If you need them, Mama's also offers healthy egg white creations. Quick service is a staple, but even so, weekend brunch has been known to generate waits thanks to the cafe's popularity. Mama's perfect location in North Beach means you'll be in the right spot for sightseeing and shopping once breakfast is over.
Recommended for Brunch because: Brunch at Mama's is the perfect start to a long North Beach day in San Francisco.
Tom's expert tip: Mama's offers a fantastic breakfast basket gift stocked with wonderful goodies to take back home.
Set pleasantly away from San Francisco's main restaurant drags, Universal is a small culinary treasure. Expansive front windows, an open kitchen, and a slight industrial appeal lend an unpretentious air, and patrons can't say enough good things about the amazing food. Chef-owner Leslie Carr Avalos grew up in the Hudson River Valley and has a long family history of organic gardening. She looks to seasonal ingredients for inspiration, and weekend brunch includes scrambled eggs with spinach and white cheddar, braised oxtails with fried eggs and spicy greens, and housemade granola with fresh fruit. Salads, sandwiches, sweets and fruit-infused drinks further bolster its allure.
Recommended for Brunch because: Universal Cafe has been highlighting their brunch for many years.
Tom's expert tip: If you want a brunch with organic ingredients, Universal Cafe is a great choice.
Brunch at Ella's is a fantastic experience, thanks largely to wonderful American cuisine and a menu that changes weekly. The casual dining room is usually crowded, and brunch can often demand a wait, so don't come famished. The pancakes and pastries will still be around. Inside, an open kitchen showcases preparation, and large windows afford great people-watching opportunities. All breads are homemade, and the aromas alone will have you coming back time and again. In fact, locals love just to walk by Ella's and get a good whiff of the baking, swearing it's the best way to start your day.
Recommended for Brunch because: The owners, Danny Wilser and Robert Merryman, make this place special.
Tom's expert tip: Described as "Neo-classical" American cooking, or a revival of classic American cooking.
While Bay Area brunch restaurants are not hard to come by, Zazie's is one of a few local gems that keeps customers coming back despite its long, out-the-door lines. The eatery is renowned for its gingerbread pancakes but also features more savory options like scrambled egg plates and chicken-apple sausage. It's easy to customize your order with one, two or three pieces, and there are plenty of attractive sandwiches and salads to choose from, too. Zazie's is tucked away in central and idyllic Cole Valley, just a few blocks from Haight Street and golden Gate Park and right along the convenient N-Judah line.
Recommended for Brunch because: Zazie may be second only to the Red Door in terms of hip places "to be seen."
Tom's expert tip: Although it's known for brunch, the dinners are special, too, featuring dishes such as Truite de Camille.
This down-to-earth restaurant has folks lining up for brunch and breakfast favorites and their especially out-of-this-world ginger-peach pancakes. Biscuits and gravy and hushpuppies add a bit of Southern comfort to early morning fare, and egg dishes hint at the menu's classics. In fact, Kate's great food can satisfy even the pickiest of diners. Don't let the craziness of Haight Street, with its panhandlers and general seediness, make you doubt the quality and expertise of Kate's Kitchen. This spot has been a reliable and satisfying brunch spot for locals and tourists alike for many, many years. But just remember: cash only.
Recommended for Brunch because: Like Boggaloo's, Kate's is a good option for the young and hip - or those who want to observe the young and hip.
Tom's expert tip: Nothing fixes a long night of Haight Street partying than visiting Kate's Kitchen on Haight Street for brunch the next day.
If you want a breakfast or brunch chock full of the freshest and most locally sourced ingredients, you can't go wrong with a brunch at Gather. As the name suggests, this modern but inviting restaurant emphasizes the central importance of food in our everyday lives. You'll feel the care and craft that goes into every organic bite, from brunch staples like their classic Spicy Bloody Mary (vodka, tomato, horseradish, chili, pickle) to their Community Grains Amber Wheat Pancakes (charred apples, ginger, maple syrup.) If you want a breakfast or brunch that considers the health of the whole planet as well as your own health, be sure to check out Gather.
Recommended for Brunch because: Gather is essential Berkeley - good food locally grown - and a must-stop for any foodie.
Tom's expert tip: Start with the Market Omelette (chèvre, cremini mushroom, spinach) and you'll forget why you ever needed plain ham and eggs.