APPETITE San Francisco has long been a brunch town, and brunching is a weekend sport. But we also excel at that mysterious (for many of us) weekday meal called breakfast. Recent rising, shining, and exploring has yielded three newer breakfast options (which also serve on weekends), and one Sunday-only brunch so good I just had to include it.
SUNDAY BRUNCH DECADENCE
Husband/wife duo, Lori Baker and Jeff Banker, interact with diners during Sunday brunch at their restaurant Baker and Banker. Jeff delivers dishes to tables, chatting with patrons, while Lori spends her time between the restaurant and next-door bakery.
In keeping with the delights available for dinner, the fairly recent addition of Sunday brunch offers joys beyond mere scrambles and pancakes. While it's still fall, do yourself a favor and order the cinnamon and spice-dusted donuts ($9), filled with a blessedly less-than-sweet pumpkin pie cream. Five to a basket, these warm rounds of autumn goodness disappeared quickly. One hopes they will stay on the menu, their filling changing seasonally.
On the savory side, there's house-smoked trout on latkes, roasted squash salad, brisket hash, and Cajun eggs benedict. I'd like to single out mascarpone brown butter polenta as the decadent base for the eggs in purgatory ($14). Two semi-runny eggs over polenta are peppered with house sausage, swimming in a spicy-sweet tomato sauce adding a Southern Italian dimension. It's an utterly satisfying breakfast dish seemingly half the restaurant ordered.
1701 Octavia, SF. (415) 351-2500, www.bakerandbanker.com
HIP YET UNHIPSTER
One of the best things to come along on a particular stretch of Market Street in awhile is Little Griddle, a few months old corner breakfast spot and burger joint. Blue collar workers and Civic Center government employees line up for bagels and Zoka coffee in the morning, while a large selection of around 15 burgers is the crowd favorite throughout the day.
Little Griddle was serving the sadly now defunct Spot Bagels. It currently offers New York Bagels (from Richmond, CA), delivered fresh daily. Breakfast platters of omelets or scrambles are massive, enough for two at roughly $8–$11, with crispy hash browns or salad. I like the Sandbox ($10.75): Black Forest ham, apple-smoked bacon, avocado, crimini mushrooms, yellow onions.
Griddle cakes ($5–$8) are likewise massive and come double- or triple-stacked, topped with strawberries and bananas, or dotted with pecans or chocolate chips.
Little Griddle's space is humble. I relish orange floor tiles and the 1970s spirit of the tiny, triangular space. It keeps the gourmet, local approach from feeling hipster or put-on. In fact, it's a neighborhood joint equipped for commuters, offering quality sans pretension.
1400 Market, SF. (415) 864-4292, www.twitter.com/littlegriddlesf
Near the busy Van Ness Muni/BART stop, The Pastry Cupboard is a couple-months-old bakery from Chona Piumarta who was executive pastry chef at Slanted Door.
Pastry Cupboard leans towards American baked goods with cakes, pies, cookies, and Piumarta's signature coconut almond macaroons (puffy and cake-like with a caramelized exterior). Scones and danishes cater to a morning appetite, but my poison is a cherry chocolate strudel. With a sugar icing and almonds on top, tart cherries and dark chocolate are layered inside a pastry shell with sweet cream cheese. Like a Bavarian version of a danish, it happily pairs with a robust espresso.
1596 Market, SF. (415) 864-2755, www.pastrycupboard.com