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Monday, May 14, 2012

Eats Fills Cozy Brunch Niche in the Richmond

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Chorizo polenta with poached eggs
  • Chorizo polenta with poached eggs

Come Sunday morning, most San Franciscans head to the Mission for a fix of bottomless Bloody Marys and breakfast sandwiches stacked with house-cured salumi and local cheese. But Eats, located in a cute corner of the Inner Richmond, reminds us that the brunch "scene" in this city is more varied than we already imagined.

Chorizo polenta with poached eggs
  • Chorizo polenta with poached eggs

In fact, Eats has the vibe of a smaller town brunch staple, like you might find in a city such as Boulder. The food is old-fashioned American with a fresh inclination, heavy on the fruits and vegetables (but not on bourbon or pork, those "comfort food" classics). There's nothing particularly kitsch about the space itself, aside from a few peace signs mounted on the walls. It's well-decorated, with lively chalkboard scribbles advertising the season's best ingredients and a raw wood wine rack supporting rows of empty classic coke bottles. Much like the name implies, Eats doesn't have much of an angle; they're just serving good food in a cozy, familiar setting.

Chorizo polenta with poached eggs
  • Chorizo polenta with poached eggs
The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but there's only a relatively short wait time, thanks to a few outdoor tables, quick service, and the fact that you'll be expected to scram soon after you finish your meal. At each place setting is a retro red mug with the restaurant's name printed on the side, a charming detail you'll want to take home to your kitchen cabinet. Bonus: This mug allows you to get coffee before your waiter has even had time to introduce himself.
If you're in the mood, take advantage of the make-your-own mimosas ($22-$26), which are more interesting than they sound. Made with fresh-squeezed orange, grapefruit, lemon and blood orange juices, they're perfect for sharing at the table. A bottle of sparkling wine is served alongside the juice itself so you can pour your own perfect ratio.
Chorizo polenta with poached eggs
  • Chorizo polenta with poached eggs

The menu is lengthy, in the style of an old-school breakfast chain, populated with descriptions of pancakes and omelets. Likewise, the portions are generous. The Chorizo Polenta with Poached Eggs ($12.95) features a base of creamy corn polenta, topped with Spanish-style cured chorizo, cut into cubes and sauteed with tomatoes, onions, queso fresco and cilantro. The meat is flavorful, but not too spicy, and all of the components work together -- it feels a lot like a brunch dish you'd make for yourself at home, if you had the patience for good polenta.
Farmer's scrambled eggs with vegetables, herbs and goat cheese, served with mixed greens and toast
  • Farmer's scrambled eggs with vegetables, herbs and goat cheese, served with mixed greens and toast

The Farmer's Scrambled Eggs ($10.95) provide a traditional breakfast combo, but with a fresh punch of herbs. The plate comes with scrambled eggs, your choice of toast and either salad or potatoes (standard diner fare). But folded into the eggs is a mix of garden vegetables -- cauliflower, mushrooms, corn, zucchini and spring onions -- and they're topped with a spoonful of creamy goat cheese and minced basil and parsley. It's not strictly seasonal throughout, since it's still a little early for corn in these parts, but the dish delivers exactly what you want it to.
Blueberry pancakes with maple syrup
  • Blueberry pancakes with maple syrup

As we noted before, the serving sizes won't leave you hungry. Still, split something sweet among the table if you can -- the Blueberry Pancakes ($8.95) were a revelation, with a soft, cakey texture and sweet-tart blueberries embedded inside. Nothing fancy here, just a side of warmed maple syrup and a pat of butter, but Eats has mastered this brunch standby.
All of the food at Eats is good, but it's the warmth and charm of the place that will draw people out to the Inner Richmond for brunch. In a city where innovative food is held in high esteem, sometimes the familiar can taste better than you ever imagined.

Olivia Ware works for Williams-Sonoma, where she contributes to the company blog The Blender. Follow us on Twitter at@sfoodie, and like us on Facebook

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