YOUR DAY in San Francisco needs to start off with a kick-ass breakfast. Any of the following coffee shops, juice stands, and restaurants will set you up nicely. Just choose your neighborhood and get up early.

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Alamo Square

The Mill

Photo: The Mill

Why we love this place: Located on a hipster avenue that was until recently a derelict thoroughfare, The Mill is the face of a changing San Francisco. Named after the onsite mill that grinds the flour for its bread, the Mill is a merger between the exceptional Josey Baker Bread and much lauded Four Barrel Coffee. The Mill may have been first to break the $8 avocado toast barrier, but it’s a darn good and filling, slice of bread.

Hours of operation: Daily 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Address: 736 Divisadero St.

Bernal Heights

Cafe St. Jorge

Why we love this place: Named after São Jorge Island in the Azores, this neighborhood spot stands out for its friendly service and a No Cal menu that celebrates its original owners’ Portuguese roots. Try the baked egg slider with Sriracha butter, arugula, and Portuguese cheese on a sweet roll. Cafe São Jorge changed owners in early 2017, but so far the quality and popularity remain unchanged. Breakfast is served all day, except waffles only until 2 PM.

Hours of operation: Mon-Fri 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM; Sat 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Sun 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address: 3438 Mission St.

Chinatown

City View Restaurant

Why we love this place: The best dim sum in San Francisco is in other neighborhoods (see Ton Kiang and Yank Sing), but if you want the whole immersive Chinatown experience, then City View is your bet. A couple of important points: there is no actual city view and since they don’t take reservations, you may wait to sit down — despite the large dining room. But the steamed spinach dumplings and shrimp dumplings have a nice fresh taste, and the price is right.

Hours of operation: Mon-Fri 11:00 AM – 2:30 PM; Sat-Sun 10:00 AM – 2:30 PM
Address: 662 Commercial St.

Cole Valley

Zazie

Photo: Zazie

Why we love this place: Zazie is a buzzing cafe with Cole Valley locals chatting over lattes at the tables out front. It’s Cole Valley’s favorite neighborhood breakfast spot and, thanks to a heated patio, you can eat outdoors on even the foggiest SF morning. If you can’t decide between the multiple versions of eggs Benedict, don’t. Order the dreamy gingerbread pancakes with caramelized pears instead.

Brunch hours: Mon-Fri 8:00 AM –2:00 PM; Sat-Sun 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Address: 941 Cole St.

Cow Hollow

Rose’s Cafe

Photo: Rose’s

Why we love this place: Opening bright and early every day, the pale yellow corner restaurant with old-style European furnishings and flowers on its coffee cups is a longtime breakfast favorite for the Pac Heights and Cow Hollow crowd. Residents come to Rose’s for breakfast business meetings or some pre-Soul Cycle granola and fruit. If you’re really hungry, try the smoked salmon pizza with scrambled eggs.

Breakfast / Brunch hours: Mon-Fri 7:00 AM – 4:30 PM; Sat-Sun 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Address: 2298 Union St.

Plumpjack Balboa Cafe

Why we love this place: Established in 1913, this old style bar has been serving the topsider-wearing set for decades…and it’s still going strong. The Balboa Cafe is packed for brunch on the weekends, so get up early and invite a few of your friends to join you for the huevos rancheros and a Bloody Mary.

Brunch hours: Sat-Sun 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Address: 3199 Fillmore St.

Dogpatch

Piccino

Photo: Piccino

Why we love this place: In this creative enclave in a former industrial slab of SF, Piccino is located in a bright yellow building, next to an artists’ studio. Weekdays, art students and commuters coming from the nearby CalTrain station order java and pastries at Piccino’s coffee bar, which is framed by the door of an old auto garage. Weekend mornings, diners from more distant neighborhoods come to chow on flower-strewn scrambles and seasonal salads. Our advice: don’t pass on the prosecco mimosa.

Coffe bar hours: Mon-Fri 6:30 AM – 10:00 PM; Sat-Sun 7 AM –10:00 PM
Restaurant hours: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Address: 1001 Minnesota St.

Serpentine

Photo: Serpentine

Why we love this place: Underneath a high concrete ceiling in an industrial red brick building in SF’s Dogpatch neighborhood, Serpentine serves up comfort food with a Southern twist. Too bad breakfast here is only on the weekends because I could eat their peach cobbler pancakes and cornbread Benedict any day of the week.

Brunch hours: Sat-Sun 10:00 AM –2:30 PM
Address: 2495 3rd St.

Castro / Duboce Triangle

Orphan Andy’s

Why we love this place: This classic diner with a lunch counter and red leather banquets serves up your traditional breakfast foods like basic omelets and pancakes. But you don’t really come to Orphan Andy’s for the food, fluffy as the pancakes may be. You come for service with a flair and that lively, campy attitude that would be hard to find anywhere but in the Castro.

Hours of operation: Open 24 hours, breakfast is served all day.
Address: 3991 17th St.

Duboce Park Cafe

Why we love this place: This corner cafe on a tree-lined street is a break from the bustle of the Castro a few blocks away. Sit at Duboce Park’s outdoor tables, or in the airy interior, to order from the menu of scrambles, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches, all made with sustainable ingredients. The organic juice bar is my favorite feature at this neighborhood spot; try the creamy avocado shake, with honey and vanilla yogurt.

Hours of operation: Mon-Sat 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Sun 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Address: 2 Sanchez St.

Embarcadero

Yank Sing

Photo: Yank Sing

Why we love this place: If you haven’t had dim sum, you haven’t done breakfast in San Francisco. This Yank Sing location, inside a spacious atrium with a bizarre waterfall descending from the glass ceiling, is packed on weekends with big groups of SF locals and their visiting out-of-towners. Sit at a big round table with a lazy Susan, and select from dozens of items as servers wheel them by on carts. All the steamed dumplings are delicious, but make sure to eat the broth-filled Shanghai dumpling with a spoon, lest you tear it open with your chopsticks. The curried chicken turnovers are a personal favorite. Afterwards, you can walk off your meal along the nearby Embarcadero waterfront. Ton Kiang is SF’s most expensive dim sum option, but the quality is worth it. Reservations are a must.

Hours of operation: Mon-Fri 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM; Sat-Sun & holidays 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Address: 101 Spear St.

Frog Hollow Farm Cafe

Why we love this place: The SF Ferry Building has few sit-down restaurants in which to eat. If it’s windy out, or you’re already lugging bags of newly purchased olive oil and exotic mushrooms, you may prefer to sit inside and take in the bay view from behind glass windows. Frog Hollow’s menu includes a quiche stuffed with Frog Hollow grown veggies, but the actual Frog Hollow farm (located due east of SF) is best known for its fruit, so if it’s summer try the steel cut oatmeal topped with peaches and plums. Note that the oatmeal is only served until 10:30 AM.

Hours of operation: Mon-Sat 7:00 AM – 7:30 PM; Sun 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Address: San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace Shop #46 (waterside)

San Francisco Ferry Building

Photo by author

Why we love this place: There are many food kiosks in the Ferry Building Marketplace, but one excellent combo is an espresso from the Blue Bottle Coffee Company; cheesy grits with a fresh farm egg from Cowgirl Creamery’s Sidekick Cafe; and a kale, mint elixir from Sow Juice. Take your purchases out back and enjoy breakfast with a view of the San Francisco Bay.

Blue Bottle hours: Mon-Sat 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM; Sun 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Cowgirl hours: Mon-Sat 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM; Sun 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sow hours: Mon-Fri 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM; Sun 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM; Sun 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address: One Ferry Building, The Embarcadero

Ferry Building Farmer’s Market

Why we love this place: At the Victory Sandwich Bar Farmer’s Market, you’ll find small batch yogurt, several types of kimchi, and even duck eggs. If you don’t feel like cooking, plenty of stands cook up breakfast items, like Primavera, a sustainable Mexican kitchen where you might wait 30 very-worth-it minutes for a spicy chilaquiles with scrambled eggs and beans. Do like the locals do and arrive early to avoid the tourist crowds. If you can’t make Saturday, the Ferry Building holds a smaller farmer’s market out front on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Farmer’s Market hours: Tue-Thu 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM; Sat 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Address: One Ferry Building, The Embarcadero

Haight-Ashbury

Pork Store Cafe

Why we love this place: The no-nonsense breakfast menu: a few different Benedicts, huevos rancheros, chicken fried steak, classic omelets like Tex Mex or veggie. If you’re really hungry — Pork Store Cafe is across the street from a head shop, after all — you can get the house special: two pork chops with two eggs and hash browns.

Breakfast / Brunch hours: Mon-Fri 7:00 AM – 3:30 PM; Sat-Sun 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Address: 1451 Haight St.

Hayes Valley

20th Century Cafe

Why we love this place: When at 20th Century Cafe, grab a seat on the red velvet banquet or on a hairpin chair and order a poppy seed babka or the perfect bagels, served with smoked salmon and dill. While some may say that it is too sweet for breakfast (Nah, it’s never too early for baked goods), the sacher torte is as good as the original from the Café Sacher Wien .

Breakfast hours: Mon-Fri 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM; Sat-Sun 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Address: 384 Hayes St.

Arlequin Cafe

Why we love this place: The Arlequin Cafe is great for a quick, top quality breakfast ordered at the counter. Opt for eggs or the daily breakfast special, or just have a café au lait and house-made chocolate croissant and pretend you’re in Paris. You can also come back in the afternoon for glass of wine in the garden out back.

Breakfast hours: Mon-Fri 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM; Sat-Sun 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Address: 384 Hayes St.

Inner Sunset

Arizmendi Bakery

Why we love this place: Arizmendi Bakery doesn’t try to be more than an excellent bakery. They’ve got a handful of small tables inside and even fewer outside, and all you can order are coffee and baked goods (pizzas start at 11:30 AM). Racks of baked goods next to the front door showcase everyday favorites, like their corn-cherry scone, and special breads of the day.

Hours of operation: Tue-Fri 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM; Sat-Sun 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Address: 1331 9th Ave

Marina District

Le Marais

Why we love this place: Le Marais wants you to think you’re in Paris — not just with the very French furnishings, but with its beignets and brioches, all made from scratch daily. Even the so-called “avocado toast” has a savory French twist, served as it is on a croissant with an egg and crème fraiche. Le Marais just opened a new location in the Castro and it’s packed every day.

Bakery hours: 7:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Bistro hours: 9:00 AM – 2:30 PM
Address: 2066 Chestnut St. (and in the Castro at 498 Sanchez St.)

Squat and Gobble

Why we love this place: The Marina is one of the family-friendliest neighborhoods in the city (it is flat after all, a boon to stroller pushers) and Squat and Gobble may well be the best spot for the family-oriented weekend brunches. The menu is lengthy, and the portions too big, but the patio out back has a nice waterfall and the kids will find something they love. The Marina scramble comes with salmon, spinach, and Kalamata olives.

Hours of operation: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Address: 2263 Chestnut St.

The Mission

Dolores Park Cafe

Why we love this place: With its distinct areas for families, queers, teens, and hipsters, Mission Dolores Park is really one of the most interesting places to spend an afternoon in the sunshine. And let’s not forget the downtown views. Dolores Park Cafe has essentially the same great local and sustainable menu as its sister restaurant, Duboce Park Cafe, but a bigger dining room and a more energetic vibe, given its location across from the park.

Hours of operation: Mon-Sat 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Sun 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Address: 2 Sanchez St.

Mission Beach Cafe

Why we love this place: The Mission Beach Cafe has served up one of the best brunches in SF for several years running, as the line out the door attests. A brunch option might be an egg and arugula sandwich with caramelized onions and aged cheddar. Luckily you can order just one pancake because when it comes with something like vanilla crème and bourbon syrup, you have to try it. Note: There’s no actual “beach” in the Mission and that there’s no parking, so arrive by public transportation if possible.

Breakfast / Brunch hours: Mon-Thu 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM; Fri 7:00 AM – 11:00 PM; Sat 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM; Sun 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Address: 198 Guerrero St.

Somavar Tea Bar The Mission

Why we love this place: The Samovar Tea Bar is not a classic, stuffy tea room: it’s white and sleek — and has some very unfussy, freshly inventive breakfast options. They’ve got a dozen green teas to choose from, and concoctions like their super-food-packed coconut and turmeric latte. Tables are few, so if Samovar is packed, order the egg jar to go; it’s got a sous vide egg, smoked salmon, brown rice and sauerkraut, all served up in a handy, transportable mason jar.

Hours of operation: 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Address: 411 Valencia St.

Loló

Photo: Lolo

Why we love this place: Sunday brunch is the only morning meal Loló serves, but as one of the most hopping restaurants in SF, Loló deserves a mention here. The vibrant colors — on the walls, chairs, and even plates — will wake you from even the grumpiest Sunday morning stupor, as will the Mexican eggs Benedict with eggs over fried organic corn gorditas with refried beans and shishito peppers.

Brunch hours: Sun 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Address: 974 Valencia St.

Nob Hill

Nourish Cafe

Why we love this place: Nourish Cafe makes some kick-ass breakfast treats. They use bread from Tartine and Josey Baker (see The Mill) for their avocado toasts or their toast slathered with homemade Nutella. The espresso date smoothie is something everyone should try. The health freaks among us will love the green açai bowl with spinach, broccoli, and banana.

Hours of operation: Mon-Thu 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Fri 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM; Sat-Sun 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Address: 1030 Hyde St.

Noe Valley

Griddle Fresh

Why we love this place: At Griddle Fresh, you’ll have massive egg dishes and $13 stacks of three 9-inch pancakes. If you’re hungry, this is the spot.

Breakfast / Brunch hours: 8:00 AM – 2:45 PM
Address: 4007 24th St.

North Beach

Mama’s

Photo: Mama’s

Why we love this place: Lines can be long at Mama’s. The Paisano Benedict, with Italian cured bacon and the French Toasts, made with house-baked breads, nuts, and fruit, are delicious. Mama’s spiked lemonade made with sauvignon blanc, and the apple and peach Bellini should make you forget the wait. (No credit cards; debit OK).

Breakfast / Brunch hours: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Address: 1701 Stockton St.

Pacific Heights

Jane

Photo: Jane

Why we love this place: Jane balances New Agey offerings like raw sprouted black rice porridge with chia seeds with more conventional dishes like spicy baked eggs. Although the avocado mash will set you back $9, the walnut and fig toast with fresh ricotta is half that price. Jane is all about healthy foods, but they do serve bacon.

Hours of operation: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Address: 2123 Fillmore St.

Sweet Maple

Why we love this place: The daily line out the door at Sweet Maple can be explained by its delicious slow-cooked sweet and spicy bacon or deep-fried French toast, which you can drizzle with Jack Daniels infused maple syrup. My personal favorite is the crab Benedict with cucumber wasabi hollandaise.

Hours of operation: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Address: 2101 Sutter St.

Mission Flats

Tartine Manufactory

Why we love this place: the Manufactory is the much larger offspring of Tartine Bakery on Guerrero Street. Order the porchetta and fried egg sandwich before sitting down.

Breakfast hours: 7:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Address: 595 Alabama St.

Plow

Why we love this place: Plow’s counter and tall stools are reminiscent of a classic diner, but the offerings at this popular neighborhood joint are not old-fashioned. Scrambled free-range eggs come served with shitakes, stinging nettle, and goat cheese and the fluffy pancakes are made with ground almond flour. Every item is worth the wait in line, and, if you’re famished by the time you sit down, you’ve got an excuse to ask for the Hong Kong brioche with sweetened condensed milk.

Brunch hours: Mon-Fri 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM; Sat-Sun 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Address: 1299 18th St.

Presidio

Warming Hut

What we love: At the far end of Crissy Field , close to the Golden Gate Bridge , is a little white visitor center with a cafe inside. The breakfast menu is basic at Warming Hut, but the ingredients are sustainable and locally harvested and, more important, the location is unbeatable. You can eat at one of the tables inside or at a picnic table outside — but watch out for the overzealous seagulls.

Brunch hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address: 983 Marine Dr.

Presidio Heights

Ella’s

Why we love this place: Ella’s menu is traditional; banana-walnut pancakes, a classic eggs benedict, or Cobb salad. You can find better breakfasts in SF, but if you want to eat in the ‘hood, this is the place. There’s no outdoor seating, but this stretch of SF real estate can feel like a wind tunnel, so that’s just as well.

Brunch hours: Mon-Fri 7:00 AM – 11:30 AM; Sat-Sun 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Address: 500 Presidio Ave

The Richmond

Lands End Lookout

Why we love this place: Lands End Lookout is a cafe attached to the visitors center at Lands’ End, the northwest corner of San Francisco, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. All they have are espresso drinks, juices, pastries, and few sandwiches, but the view is worth it. You’ll have plenty of SF locals here grabbing a snack after a hike along Lands End Trail , a cliff-hugging path with views of the Golden Gate Bridge from its less photographed western side. Tourists come to check out the remains of Sutro Baths, once massive public baths at the water’s edge.

Hours of operation: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address: 680 Point Lobos Ave

Marla Bakery Restaurant

Why we love this place: At Marla Bakery, the weekday breakfast menu is short, but when it includes a breakfast sandwich with crispy pork carnitas and gypsy peppers, it’s long enough to satisfy. The weekend brunch menu has a cured trout with pickled beets that really shows what a master pickler can do for a meal. (You can also find Marla’s at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and Thursdays).

Pastry and coffee hours: Tue-Fri, opens at 7:00 AM
Breakfast hours: Tues-Fri 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM; Sat-Sun 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Brunch hours: Sat-Sun 10:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Address: 3619 Balboa St.

Ton Kiang

Why we love this place: At Ton Kiang, without a reservation (the minimum is for six people), you’ve got to wait for a table outside in one of the foggiest parts of the city. The décor, if you can call it that, is bare-boned, but the dim sum wheeled by on carts is consistently good and well priced. The pork buns are always a hit; two unusual items I always order at Ton Kiang are the turnip cakes and black sesame balls.

Hours of operation: Mon-Tue & Thur 10:30 AM – 9:00 PM; Fri 10:30 AM – 9:30 PM; Sat 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM; Sun 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM; closed Wed.
Address: 5821 Geary Blvd

Russian Hill

New Spot on Polk

Why we love this place: The New Spot on Polk is a go-to spot where the lines aren’t yet out the door (what is it with San Francisco and lines for breakfast?), the prices are reasonable, and the coffee is organic. The breakfast burrito with pepper jack and cheddar served in a spinach tortilla, is one of the more popular items here. If sweet is your thing, you may want to try the corn flakes French toast. You can order breakfast all day.

Hours od operation: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Address: 2401 Polk St.

SoMa

Soma Eats

Photo: SoMa Eats

Why we love this place: You can get order ahead online and pick up your food to go, but the space is comfortable and the breakfast options are superior to those at some nearby diners that have inexplicably long lines. Soma Eats really wants to make good and creative food. An example is the smoked salmon sandwich with wasabi cream cheese and crispy greens. It’s an unusual breakfast, but fresh and tasty. At $6.95 for that tasty sandwich, the price is as good as those diners.

Breakfast hours: Mon-Fri 7:00 AM – 11:00 AM; closed weekends
Address: 186 2nd St.

Sunset District

Java Beach

Photo: Java Beach

Why we love this place: Java Beach doesn’t serve much more for breakfast than ham and cheese croissants or bagels with vegetarian toppings. But the hummus bagel plate with tomatoes and sprouts is made more interesting by the local scene here, one of the few places where you can get a feel for SF’s beach culture. Sunset residents walking their big dogs and surfers stoked after a session in OB’s monster waves all descend on Java Beach. Since the best time to surf is in the windless post-dawn hours, Java Beach opens at 5:30 AM on weekdays.

Hours of operation: Mon-Fri 5:30 AM – 11:00 PM; Sat-Sun 6:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Address: 1396 La Playa St.

Outerlands

Why we love this place: Outerlands’ chef Yoni Levy serves a local, organic food. The changing menu might include a summer vegetable sandwich with eggs, manchego, and onion jam; and always features a donut of the day.

Brunch hours: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Address: 2298 Union St.

Tenderloin

Brenda’s French Soul Food

Why we love this place: Something wonderful has happened on upper Polk Street. Dingy dive bars slowly became cool, then more bars followed, and restaurants gained a toehold. Brenda’s was a pioneer in the area, the brainchild of New Orleans native and celebrated Chef Brenda Buenviaje. Come in the morning for a hashtown fry with crispy oysters, or for Sunday supper from 5:00 PM onwards and have an andouille sausage omelet with a side of grits.

Hours of operation: Mon-Tue 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM; Wed-Sat 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM; Sun 8:00 AM –8:00 PM
Address: 652 Polk St.

Union Square

Cafe de la Presse

Why we love this place: The location of Cafe de la Presse is unbeatable; it’s right in front of Dragon's Gate entrance. The cafe is always full. Breakfast options include poached eggs with mushrooms and lardon or the yummy vanilla French toast. The food is not too remarkable later in the day, so stick to breakfast here and be prepared for sometimes slow service.

Breakfast hours: Mon-Fri 7:30 AM – 11:00 AM; Sat-Sun & holidays 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Address: 652 Polk St.


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