San Francisco is filled with amazing food in every price range and every cuisine that you could imagine. We all know that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day", so take advantage of the city’s great meals to start each day off right. In this article we’ll dive into a late breakfast with the City’s best pastry shops, mimosa brunches, diners, unusual eats, hotels and more. We’ll give you more than two dozen eggs of great breakfast options and our 2013 SF Travel awards for the Top 5 Best Breakfasts in San Francisco.
Top 5 Best San Francisco Breakfasts
All of the spots on this list are great but if you want to know which are the cream of the crop, these are the ones we’ve crowned as the Top 5 Best Breakfasts in the city.
1. Best French Pastry Breakfast: Tartine in The Mission
2. Best Bottomless Mimosas Breakfast: Ironside in SoMA
3. Best Diner Breakfast: Toast Eatery on Polk Street
4. Best Unique San Francisco Breakfast: Sunday’s a Drag brunch buffet at The Starlight Room at Union Square
5. Best Light and Healthy Breafkast: Fraiche in Lower Pacific Heights
San Francisco’s Best Pastry Shops
Many of us enjoy starting our day with a cup of coffee and a sweet treat. There are wonderful San Francisco pastry shops located all throughout the city that offer the best of fresh-baked goods and strong hot San Francisco coffee.
Tartine is a French bakery in the Mission neighborhood with pastries made primarily from organic seasonal ingredients. Double pain au chocolate, morning buns, buttermilk scones, bread pudding and tea cake are just a few of your delicious choices when dining at this pastry shop. They serve organic Four Barrel coffee and for those of you who like cream in your coffee you’ll get treated to fresh organic dairy from Straus Family Creamery.
This is another great Mission bakery … or actually what is known as a micro bakery or micro-patisserie. This is essentially a bakery cart that co-exists inside of a larger restaurant. It is a separate location but you are welcome to dine at the main restaurant (which in this case is Local Mission Eatery). Recommendations for pastries here include Malted chocolate éclairs, butter pecan croissants, and their lemon ricotta poptart. Note that Knead Patisserie is closed on Mondays.
2821 California St.
This is a brand new pastry shop in the Pacific Heights neighborhood that has rapidly made a name for itself as spot with pastries to kill for. In fact, there were lines out the door when it first opened and it remains a place where you can expect to wait but the wait is well worth the taste. The pastries (all made in house of course) include hazelnut chocolate croissants, Kouign-amann cake, passionfruit almond bostock and tarts. Seating is limited here; you may want to take your treats to go and head to nearby Alta Plaza Park to enjoy your San Francisco breakfast.
Cassava is a small café run by a pair of newlyweds and you can tell that everything they make is infused with their love. In addition to pastries you can also get heartier breakfast fair here like croissant sandwiches and breakfast quiche. This spot is located in the Richmond District.
San Francisco’s Bottomless Mimosa Brunches
While coffee and pastry is a fairly classic breakfast option for most people, what tends to be more popular among many San Franciscans is the bottomless mimosa breakfast or brunch.
Ironside via @Bittermelon Flickr cc 2.0
680A 2nd St.
This SoMA location not only offers bottomless mimosas but also offers an all-you-can-eat brunch option for those with a big appetite. Their mimosas come not just with orange juice but also with alternatives like peach and grapefruit and are available for $10 on both Saturdays and Sundays.
This Pacific Heights restaurant is a bit more upscale than some of the other bottomless mimosa options and you’ll pay more for your drinks but they’re well worth it. For $15 you can get mimosas with Grand Marnier or for $12 you can get pomosas, which are made with pomegranate liqeuer. What really makes this spot fun is the live gospel music, though. This bottomless mimosa breakfast is only available on Sundays at 11 and 1.
If you are looking for bottomless mimosas during the week then you should head to this Mission restaurant that offers them for $10 Wednesday through Sunday. Their menu is Southern-inspired American food. They also offer a range of gluten-free bakery options.
Best San Francisco Crepes
Crepes are another hot breakfast choice in San Francisco. Whether you like sweet or savory, your palette will be satisfied by breakfast at any one of these creperies.
Crepes are available all day at this great brunch choice. Meal crepes can come with meats, vegetables, and cheeses. They are also available sweet style with sauces or jams. Crepevine also has traditional breakfast fare like omelets, eggs, pancakes, etc. All meals include delicious garlic potatoes. There are two different locations to choose from: one in the Sunset District and the other in The Castro.
This popular creperie offers a nice alternative to the traditional crepes in that they have French buckwheat, gluten-free crepes made with all-organic ingredients. There are several locations in the Financial District but the one at the Metreon is open daily.
La Belle Crepe
2165 Union St.
This Marina neighborhood crepe spot has nice ambience, friendly staff and yummy crepes. Their savory crepes tend to get the best reviews but they do offer sweet crepes as well. This San Francisco creperie is open daily.
The Crepe Café
If you are staying near Fisherman’s Wharf and you get a crepe craving then just head to Pier 39 for breakfast at this spot. You can take your crepes to go and eat them while enjoying a view of The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz or the pier’s famous sea lions.
San Francisco’s Best Diner Breakfasts
Are you more of a traditional eggs and bacon kind of person? There are plenty of diners (and upscale restaurants with diner-inspired food) to enjoy in San Francisco.
Toast Eatery on Polk offers traditional diner breakfasts with some twists, including healthy California twists. For example, you can get one of their many omelets made with egg whites. That said, there are also a few delicious indulgent options here including the croissant French toast and the chicken and waffles. This Nob Hill location is within easy walking distance from many centrally located hotels in San Francisco.
This SoMa restaurant puts a fun spin on some favorite diner breakfast foods. For example, you can get a scramble made with mushroom, baby spinach and smoked whiskey-fennel sausage or an omelet that includes lamb merguez sausage. More traditional options include a Southwestern omelet and Dottie’s famous pancakes. A few breakfast specials here give you a lot of food at an affordable price.
This is a family-owned diner in The Sunset neighborhood that serves Korean food for lunch but American food for breakfast. They are known for their hashbrown sandwiches so that’s what you’ll want to get when you go. However, they also offer other traditional diner fare including omelettes and pancakes. This spot is closed on Mondays.
Located in the increasing popular NoPa neighborhood, this is the kind of spot that you would expect to find in small town America (in a good way!) They have large portions of good basic breakfast food. Words that come to mind when eating at this place include “homey”, “comfort food” and “1950s diner”. Open daily.
San Francisco’s Best Unusual Breakfasts
Would you rather enjoy a unique San Francisco experience than a specific type of food? These unusual breakfast options will provide that for you.
Red Door Café
1608 Bush St.
The first thing that you’ll see when you walk up to this hole-in-the-wall restaurant is a sign telling you that this is “not a restaurant” but rather a home where the chef has chosen to open his doors. This is followed by a list of rules that include “no dark sunglasses”, no parties larger than 2, and no drinking coffee while you wait outside in line. And yes, there will be a line. Once inside (assuming that you get inside at this crowded, weekends-only joint) you’ll find an experience like no other. It’s raunchy, it’s playful and it’s uniquely San Francisco.
Harry Denton’s Starlight Room in San Francisco’s Union Square neighborhood offers a Sunday brunch that includes a drag queen show. Reservations are required for this event that serves 100 people at a time for two shows each weekend. Brunch is a buffet that includes a pastry table, omelet station and carving station.
Enjoy a weekend brunch buffet with live jazz at this centrally located restaurant that serves food sourced locally. It’s not cheap; the brunch is $21 but it’s all you can eat and includes unique Southern comfort food options like fried catfish and chicken and waffles. You can also order a la carte items to keep prices down. Brunch is served on both Saturdays and Sundays but jazz is Sundays only.
Best Hotel Breakfasts in San Francisco
Are you the type of person who doesn’t want to have to leave the hotel to get a great breakfast during your vacation? Stay in one of these hotels and enjoy the food they offer in the morning.
White Swan Inn
845 Bush St.
It only makes sense to kick this category off with a bed and breakfast spot. This one is a boutique hotel that offers the perfect combination of luxury and coziness in the heart of the city’s Union Square. They have fresh pastries all day and a complimentary breakfast that is filled with yummy foods offered with a rotating menu.
Bob’s at Omni
500 California Street
The Omni is home to Bob’s Steak and Chop house where you can purchase breakfast daily. They are known for their steak and eggs, chicken and waggles and other meat-rich meals but of course offer lighter fair as well including fruit, oatmeal and trans-fat free organic griddle cakes.
Grand Café at Hotel Monaco
501 Geary St.
Hotel Monaco is a boutique hotel in Union Square affiliated with The Grand Café next door. This is a modern French brasserie where you can enjoy a yummy upscale breakfast such as French toast served with cinnamon, heirloom apples and huckleberry sauce. They also offer a weekend brunch menu.
If money is no object, this is your place. Widely known as one of SF's best breakfasts for business travelers. Located in the Financial District at an equally awesome hotel. Plan on spending $25+ per person.
More Top San Francisco Breakfasts
If you have exhausted all of the above options and are still looking for another great San Francisco breakfast, you need look no further than these hot spots.
1910 Fillmore St.
This lower Pacific Heights yogurt shop offers the best homemade yogurt in the city. It is all organic, available in nonfat, low fat and whole fat options and comes with your choice of a variety of fresh fruits and nuts. They also have fresh frozen yogurt, oatmeal, drip coffee and other options.
215 Church St.
This Castro restaurant has a terrific menu, friendly staff, a lot of seating and terrific art on the walls. Recommendation: quinoa and yogurt for breakfast; it comes with unique add-ins like persimmon and pomegranate seeds.
2274 Lombard St.
A small place in the Marina District with great food but long lines. The breakfasts are excellent and people in this neighborhood know it. The scones and jam are particularly excellent and the hashbrowns are to die for. When you’re done eating, take the drive East down The Crookedest Street in the world.
2150 Lombard St.
Bay Watch is a simple, plain restaurant with excellent food and excellent service. Bay Watch mainly serves the best breakfasts in town, right in the middle of the Marina. Located on a very busy Lombard Street, expect to wait a while but enjoy a great, free coffee while you enjoy the outdoor sunshine. This is a restaurant that truly prides itself on great service and delivers it. Oh, and the food is wonderful too. Choose from awesome omelets, skillet breakfasts, frittatas, egg plates, gourmet pancakes, or waffles. Expect to get more than you bargained for -- the omelets are out of this world. Pancakes come with different berries and there are a number of healthy entrees if that is what you choose. Basically, Bay Watch is a place that kicks butt on the chains like Dennys and IHOP -- in fact, it blows them away.
This is the kind of restaurant where you walk up to order coffee-shop style but can get a great full meal to take to your seat. Bagel sandwiches, omelets and toast and granola are a few of the common options. No matter which location you choose, you’ll find yourself in a busy, bustling breakfast place.
Now the only question is … how many breakfasts can you fit in during your San Francisco vacation?!