Chambers Landing in the evening. Yes, it’s for real. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Greetings from dreamy Lake Tahoe, gang. I’ve been enjoying some family time here at our cabin, and bonus, my parents bring their two cats up with them, so I’ve had plenty of entertainment with all the feline shenanigans. Caturday was ON.
I can’t believe the level of the lake, I haven’t seen it this high in years. It’s totally full! There’s water back up at the piers and lapping at the shore. It’s so gorgeous. (Although I did lose a little too much of my favorite beach at Sugar Pine Point. NOT COMPLAINING.) I’m just so happy to have the sun in my life and zero wind this past weekend. After living in San Francisco for (almost) 23 years, I’ve learned I have to escape the summer fog and BS wind or I go a little crazy. Shout-out to boss of me for creating my mobile job. Have laptop, will travel.
Today, I went super light on the news because I have been wanting to run this SF brunch piece for weeks, and I kept running out of time. I can’t write up places and travel pieces and sift through the onslaught of news all in the same week, so I hope you enjoy today’s piece. Small sidebar: if brunch at Rooh is catching your eye, you might want to wait for an upcoming tablehopper brunch there! Very soon. It’s in the works!
See you next week! Marcia Gagliardi
Brunch in SF is one of our treasured pastimes (excuse me, contact sports). There are always places starting up brunch service, and then some sadly discontinuing it (I am currently pouring some out for Aster’s and Cala’s brunches, they were sooooo good). I think brunch is a smart way to check a place out that you’ve been curious about, with its somewhat friendlier price point. (Well, except if you’re a lush with a penchant for $24 glasses of Lanson Champagne, and I love you for it.) Anyway.
Here are a few highlights from 10 San Francisco places serving brunch around town, from the new to the established, from restaurants to bars. Hopefully you feel inspired to get some new spots and dishes in the mix—don’t let all these calories I consumed for you be in vain, okay? Thanks.
LOCANDA I’m not one to order pancakes, I usually go for anything savory with eggs, but dear lord, the lemon ricotta “corzetti” pancakes here are things of pure, shining, fluffy, delicate pancake freaking perfection. Clouds of sexy happiness. If you want to go savory, the eggs in purgatory have a nice punch of pecorino. (They were also doing some evil eggs Benedict carbonara, but maybe it’s a good thing it’s currently not on chef Melissa Reitz’s menu.)
The space is so chic in the daytime, with the pop of color from sunny yellow espresso cups, and then there’s the amaro-centric brunch cocktails that are designed to help you, like the Ciociaro spritz (Ciociaro, amaro blend #3, lemon, Prosecco), which is the move. Making a reservation in advance, also smart. Sat-Sun 10:30am-2pm 557 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-863-6800
BAR AGRICOLE Another place that is absolutely gorgeous during the day is Bar Agricole’s Sunday brunch, with its soft light from the skylights above. Score one of the booths in the back with your friends and it’s an instant celebration (although then there’s that patio…).
It’s a seasonally changing menu, but do know chef Seth Stowaway’s team does a nice job with creamy scrambled eggs, and salumi lovers won’t want to miss the quality selection here (I love starting my day with coppa). There are oysters, too, and the cocktails can be as gentle or eye-opening as you need, just let them know where you’re at. (I never quite thought I’d have Armagnac in a brunch cocktail but that’s how they roll here and it was spot on.) Sun 10am-2pm 355 11th St. at Harrison, 415-355-9400
AINA Have you visited this sweet Dogpatch spot yet? Talk about mahalo vibes. The friendly staff, the sunny corner, all the cute succulents and plants…and then you bite into the malasadas filled with guava custard and say, “Whoooooa, dude!” You will. Go ahead, bite the malasada and try not to freak out. Chef Jordan Keao goes the extra mile on everything, from the housemade Spam musubi (made from a whole hog they get in from Stone Valley Farms) to the gorg garnishes. There are perfectly fried sunny-side-up eggs on the kalbi loco moco and the Portuguese sausage hash with Brussels sprouts, plus there’s housemade lap cheong sausage, and they even fly in Punalu’u Bakery taro bread for the French toast. Dedicated!
And we haven’t even gotten into their clever low-ABV drink menu, which won’t have you missing the hard stuff (Bloody Mary with charred tomato and pink peppercorn, boom). All the feels, this place. It’s a popular one, but here’s a pro tip: if you can go on Friday, do it. And then there’s dinner… Fri 10am-2:30pm, Sat-Sun 9am-2:30pm 900 22nd St. at Minnesota, 415-814-3815
ROOH This Indian newcomer to SoMa has a punchy, colorful look, and the Saturday brunch is a fun way to check out chef Sujan Sarkar’s progressive Indian culinary style—and the Goan chorizo Scotch egg they serve at the bar at night. You’ll also get to try their puffy and warm housemade kulcha (the paneer tikka, chile, and Parmesan kulcha is a fave). Don’t let the idea of squid put you off, because the tender squid and prawn poha was a top dish, a flavorful rice number with cilantro and fresh coconut. Egg dishes include a masala omelet with buttery pao, or baked eggs, or with keema (lamb) Hyderabadi. There is quite the list (and playful presentation) of cocktails, but it was the Chennai Colada—so tropical fruity and refreshing with fresh curry leaves—that is the pick if you aren’t up for any booze. Sat 11am-2:30pm 333 Brannan St. #150 at 2nd St., 415-525-4174
HORSEFEATHER One of the better additions to the Divisadero Corridor of late (we needed a cute bar!), but did you know they serve brunch on the weekend? Snag a spot on the sunny enclosed patio/atrium and get yourself the Sergeant Major, with rye, cold brew, vanilla almond milk, and maple syrup (reporting for duty, sir!). Their dream Cali breakfast burrito is something special, with housemade chorizo, home fries, scrambled eggs, cheese, and a ladle of arbol salsa, but I do hope the chilaquiles come back, they were bonkers good. (Although the replacement mushroom toast, soft-shell crab Benedict, and smoked trout scramble, I’m not mad at any you either.) The late brunch hours are also very industry-friendly. Sat-Sun 11am-4pm 528 Divisadero St. at Fell, 415-817-1939
UMA CASA Wish you were in a seaside town in Portugal for brunch eating shellfish? Yeah, me too. But the cheerful interior of Uma Casa, with its blue and white tiles, airy style, and raw seafood bar can help transport you there. Co-owner Nora Furst’s brunch cocktails are the bomb, like the Olhos Abertos (Alessio Chinato, coffee, Angostura bitters, orgeat, and a big spoonful of cream on top). You should start with the warm rissois de cåmarão (creamy shrimp turnovers with béchamel) and the yellowfin tuna salad with quail egg and a dusting of dehydrated olive (chef-owner Telmo Faria likes to add modern touches) served with their rather brilliant potato chips.
But let’s talk about why you’re really here, and I hope you brought some friends to help. Meet the Francesinha, one of the classics in the pantheon of hangover cures (or “I’m drunk and it’s 3am” scenario), an import from Porto. It’s a demented sandwich filled with linguiça (love the one they use here), thin, rosy slices of roast beef, and ham, with Havarti melted over the top and topped with a tomato-beer sauce and an over-easy egg (well, it’s supposed to be—ours arrived over-medium). Our entire table groaned with one look at this beast and then proceeded to attack it until the last bite, dipping Uma Casa’s tasty fries (they have a way with potatoes here) in the tomato-beer sauce. There are a few other egg dishes, and you could do a lot of damage at the raw bar, but really, the Little Frenchie is something else. Make sure you have a long walk home. And some Lipitor waiting for you. Sat-Sun 11am-3pm 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-829-2264
BLUESTEM BRASSERIE You have some friends visiting and want to do some weekend downtown shopping? You need to lay down some brunch bedrock first. Start with a cinnamon roll the size of your head (I’m not kidding, it’s a monster) or fellow smoky fish lovers will veer toward the smoked trout tartine with some crunchy seasonal vegetables. I’m sorry to say the fried eggs on smoky pork ragù with pickled chiles appear to have taken a turn off chef John Griffiths’ menu, but am sure the croque madame would console me, and the duck confit salad with a mustardy herb dressing and fried duck egg is a standard here for a reason.
An extensive list of fun brunch cocktails—like the Bacon Bloody Mary (with bacon-infused vodka, celery salt rim, and housemade pickles) and the unique What’s Up Doc (carrot juice, ginger beer, and vodka)—will prep you nicely for some tipsy shopping. Sat-Sun 11am-3pm 1 Yerba Buena Ln. at Market, 415-547-1111
FLORES In the thick of the Cow Hollow scene is this Mexican newcomer in the former Betelnut space, with a tropical and tiled look that transports you to Cozumel in a flash, and is serving one of my favorite spins on a cold coffee drink, the Vida Fuerza, with cold brew, coconut milk, and cinnamon. Heaven. Dive into the coctel de camaron for some of the tastiest, fresh, and plump shrimp and creamy avocado in a spicy burnt tomato sauce that you can scoop up with crisp and thin housemade chips. Of note: they make their tortillas by hand from their own masa daily. Chilaquiles with braised beef and perfectly sunny eggs and guac for $14? Gracias, chef Alejandro Morgan. Sat-Sun 11am-3pm 2030 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-796-2926
CONTRADA Are you thinking you’d like some fresh air, a sunny back deck, and a breakfast pizza with soft-scrambled egg, smoky trout roe, crème fraîche, and fresh herbs? Yeah? I know just the place. The pizza crust at this Cow Hollow spot is a beautiful thing, both elastic and crisp, with developed flavor—so yeah, get a pizza. The backyard is a little hideaway off Union Street, and chef Jason Tuley’s Cal-Italian menu has some notable salads (it’s amazing how many places don’t do salads well), rustic dishes like polenta and eggs, and a farmers’ market Benedict; the menu definitely leans more to the savory side. Low-ABV brunch cocktails are well thought-out, from spritzes to sangria, and there are some excellent wine selections for you to discover—just ask the friendly staff. Sat-Sun 10:30am-3pm 2136 Union St. at Webster, 415-926-8916
JANE THE BAKERY I know, it can be hard to get up and go out on the weekend. So here’s an idea: pop on over to the newish Jane the Bakery outpost on Geary, which handily has a little (and extremely rare in SF) parking lot, and you just may be a lucky duck and score a spot. (Trust, I am hoping for you.) Stumble in the bakery, point to the cardamom lattice bun (the sensation of biting through the buttery laminated and flaky dough into the incroyable cardamom pastry cream inside, mamma mia, it’s errrrrything), and you could also bring home their sausage and egg cheddar-chive biscuit sandwich (or decadent croissant egg sandwich with avocado) or you can lose your mind over their fresh-from-the-oven flatbread with three cheeses (it rotates daily).
Grab some of their fresh juices and espresso drinks (made with their own roast) and head back to your nest. Don’t forget a loaf of whatever catches your eye that day, from green olive polenta thyme bread to their creative daily specials (just ask!)—get crumbs all over your bed, go for it. Kudos to Amanda Michael and her amazing team for just cranking out the carb happiness over here (and they have a bunch of gluten-free options, too). Best of all? You can enjoy this goodness every day of the week. Holla. Open daily 7am-6pm 1881 Geary Blvd. at Steiner, 415-658-7971
Divisadero has yet another gorgeous café to add to the corridor, with SIGHTGLASS now open on the edge of the Lower Haight on a sunny corner at Page. It’s so nice after a few years of plywood to see this beautiful café emerge, full of custom work. Boor Bridges is behind the architecture of the 2,000-square-foot space, which required an entirely new foundation and seismic retrofit of the 1906 building.
This is brothers Jerad and Justin Morrison’s fifth café, and they continued to work with many of the same craftspeople as their previous cafés. As you walk past the charming mosaic tile inlay in the doorway with the bronze sun happily holding a coffee mug, you’ll note the steel and glass entry doors, the original clerestory windows that were uncovered and restored, and the extensive woodwork throughout, most of it milled from a single Monterey Cypress tree. There is a lot of custom fabricated metalwork—check out the counterweight and pulley window system by the walk-up window.
Walk-up window, you say? Yes, for you folks on the go, you can just walk up to the side window, which features a quick-service menu, like their Fetco Batch brewed coffee and some selections off the two-group La Marzocco Linea. Handy for those of you catching one of the many buses in the area. At the main counter, there are two Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machines that look like spaceships that just landed, and there’s an individually prepared pour-over bar.
Some other fun additions—just in time for summer—include their signature cold beverages on tap (and kegged in-house), including single-origin nitro cold brew, cascara shrub soda, and iced vanilla cold brew. On the menu, you’ll find pastries and snacks from Neighbor Bakehouse, b. patisserie, and Piccino.
Hang out at the community table, or grab a seat in the open banquette booths that were designed to encourage interaction (as in lifting your eyes up from your phone). Enjoy listening to records playing on the vintage McIntosh stereo system. There’s even a neon sign outside, and benches along Page Street.
Welcome to the neighborhood, brothers! It has been a long time coming. Hours are 7am-7pm, but they plan to start opening the to-go window at 6:30am in the next week or two. 301 Divisadero St. at Page, 415-522-0112.
Just a fun little tidbit I caught in the ABC wires—it looks like the BVHospitality gents (Trick Dog’s Josh Harris and Morgan Schick) potentially have a new project brewing in the former Urchin Bistrot space, previously Wo Hing and the original Slanted Door on Valencia. I reached out to the duo and they don’t have anything to say at the moment, so we’ll just have to sit tight for now. And besides, they are plenty busy with their project at the upcoming SF Proper Hotel. 584 Valencia St. at 17th St.
Now open in Berkeley as of last Friday July 28th is the first West Coast location of IPPUDO, the famed international ramen shop. Ippudo has a couple locations in New York, with 160 restaurants worldwide, and partnered with Panda Restaurant Group Partners to open this location (SF is next!).
Ippudo is known for its trademark (and secret recipe) Hakata tonkotsu ramen, with handmade noodles (you can order four different levels, from soft to firm). The tonkotsu broth has 18-plus hours behind it, and forms the base of a few of their different bowls, from the Shiromaru to the bolder Akamaru ramen, and the Karaka (spicy) ramen—you can read the menu descriptions of each bowl here. And you can also get creative with toppings, from menma (seasoned bamboo shoots) to extra chashu (pork belly).
Side dishes include their steamed buns (filled with pork, chicken, or vegetables), and Goma Q, their seasoned cucumbers with sesame dressing (created at Ippudo’s first New York location). There are also wings, shishito peppers, chicken kara-age, a couple salads, rice dishes, and more.Expect a beverage list featuring superior sakes (classified into four different taste groups), Japanese beer, and wine.
If you are curious about Ippudo’s origins in Japan, check out this video with the founder, Shigemi Kawahara, who opened the first Ippudo in Fukuoka in 1985.
One thing to note (per their website): “None of our menu items are available for take out or take away, including leftovers.” So finish your bowl, yo. (Which shouldn’t be a problem.) As expected, it’s crazy town with the lines over there, so plan accordingly. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12am (midnight), Sun 11am-10pm. The last order for food is an hour before closing, and for ramen is 30 minutes before closing. 2011 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley, 510-666-8807.
Last Tuesday July 25th, the (former) Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger dined at Tanya Holland’s BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN. He reportedly had three eggs scrambled with tomatoes and spinach, plus a biscuit. (Whew.) Here’s hoping he comes back for a waffle.