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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

San Francisco's Top 10 Brunches

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge A Dutch pancake with bacon and maple syrup at Outerlands
  • A Dutch pancake with bacon and maple syrup at Outerlands


Brunch is a way of life in San Francisco. Out-of-towners marvel that

we'll wait an hour-and-a-half for a stack of pancakes, and the morning

cocktail scene is lively -- even if the drinks are made with soju

instead of vodka. On Saturday night we may share bottles of Zinfandel

and exotic preparations of Brussels sprouts, but come Sunday morning,

it's all back to the roots of eating for pleasure. Runny, cheesy eggs.

Thick bacon. Crispy hash browns. Warm, creamy grits. The staples we love

and crave, but elevated to a whole new level.

This city is home to many flavors of brunch spots, from chichi raw

bar restaurants to good old-fashioned American breakfast diners. We have

brunches based in almost every cuisine at almost every price level in

almost every neighborhood. It's tough to narrow down a meal so close to

our hearts and bellies, but SF Weekly has given it our best shot,

rounding up our favorite places to gather on foggy weekend mornings with

friends. Here are our 10 favorite current spots for brunch:

click to enlarge Eggs Barrio at Boogaloos
  • Eggs Barrio at Boogaloos

10. Boogaloos

3296 22nd St. (at Valencia)

You won't find any crispy pork belly or garlic confit at Boogaloos, but customers love that about the Mission breakfast staple. And the menu

is far more interesting than that of your average pancake house, stocked with chorizo and andouille, plenty of vegetarian options and a full

"kitchen cupboard" of ingredients to fill your custom scramble or omelet. Grease is abundant and portions are huge, but it's all really

tasty and unexpected. Fun, casual and kitsch, Boogaloos is a place you'll want to come back to.

click to enlarge Serpentine's Red Flannel Hash, with braised brisket, beets, poached eggs and a horseradish creme fraiche
  • Serpentine's Red Flannel Hash, with braised brisket, beets, poached eggs and a horseradish creme fraiche

9. Serpentine
2495 3rd St. (at 22nd)

Slightly off the beaten path in up-and-coming Dogpatch, Serpentine provides a welcome break from the hectic San Francisco brunch scene (read: no long lines or

snobby waitstaff). Dishes are fresh and seasonal, of course, but they're also creative without making a big deal about it. Unlikely

combinations of braised brisket, roasted beets and poached eggs are well balanced, served in generous portions for a reasonable price.

click to enlarge A perfect Croque Monsieur at The Butler and the Chef
  • A perfect Croque Monsieur at The Butler and the Chef

8. The Butler & the Chef
155 South Park St. (at 3rd)

A so-called "French" cafe can feel contrived, but The Butler & the Chef is the real deal. The menu features dishes you'd see on any street

corner in Paris -- not just a ham and cheese crepe or Nicoise salad, but a duck rillette, too. Here you'll find what's truly the most rich and decadent Croque Monsieur in San Francisco, perfectly crisp on the outside and meltingly creamy on the inside. It's a revelation, and cause for a nap.

click to enlarge Sweet Maple's Marnier French Toast with Millionaire's Bacon
  • Sweet Maple's Marnier French Toast with Millionaire's Bacon

7. Sweet Maple
2101 Sutter St. (at Steiner)

Sweet Maple has attracted its crowds by taking good old-fashioned American breakfast fare to the next level. The huge menu is full of standard staples, from Benedicts and two-egg breakfasts to morning sandwiches and French toast -- there's nothing "nouveau" about it. What is remarkable, though, is the food itself. Locally sourced, organic and abundant with fresh ingredients, it's unpretentious, reasonably priced breakfast chain food done extremely well. Don't skip

the Millionaire's Bacon, but be warned it could ruin bacon for you forever.

click to enlarge Outerlands' poached eggs with braised greens and creamy grits
  • Outerlands' poached eggs with braised greens and creamy grits

6. Outerlands
4001 Judah St. (at 45th Ave.)

The Sunset doesn't see a lot of love in the culinary world, but Outerlands gives us a reason to make the trek. A few reasons, in fact: a rustic, calming space; the smell of fresh-baked levain; and a short menu of simple, delightful brunch dishes. In each, a few ingredients shine, unadorned with frills, like poached eggs and braised chard served on a bed of creamy grits. If your Sunday is empty and your mood is patient, Outerlands is a cozy retreat.

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Olivia Ware

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