SFGuide

The Best Breakfast Spots In SF

Where to go for an early-morning meal in the city.
The Plow plate with sausages, eggs, potatoes, and pancakes at Plow

photo credit: Plow

Breakfast, we’re told, is the most important meal of the day. And nowhere does that saying ring truer than in San Francisco. So whether you’re faking a sick day, catching up with a friend who’s in town, or just looking for something quick to eat before starting a Wednesday morning, use this guide to the best early-morning spots in the city. Looking for brunch, baked goods, or bagels? We've got guides for those, too.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Sarah Felker

Bakery/Cafe

Richmond

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastCoffee & A Light BiteLunchSerious Take-Out Operation
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There's always something new to try at Breadbelly, the bakery and cafe in the Richmond where Asian-inspired pastries and sandwiches change often. Sweet and savory pastries will call to you, like the soft milk bun exploding with silky coconut pandan cream, and a macadamia nut croissant tart with caramelized edges. You can choose anything here and never go wrong. One non-negotiable is the kaya toast—a slice of milk bread with a squiggle of green coconut pandan jam finished with sea salt flakes.

When you just want to walk up, devour a plate of chicken and waffles and leave, drop everything and get to Tastebuds. The soul food-inspired counter-service spot in the Richmond makes some of our favorite chicken and waffles in the city—the golden tenders and fluffy buttermilk waffles strike the ideal balance between sweet and salty. The portions are hearty, but you miraculously won't need to be rolled off the premises after. In the non-fried department, your other options include shrimp over creamy grits, omelets, yogurt bowls, and refreshing green smoothies. 

photo credit: Melissa Zink

$$$$Perfect For:BrunchWalk-Ins

For a lovely casual weekday breakfast that'll stretch into lunch, head to El Mil Amores in the Mission. This Mexican spot’s massive plates will take you more time to finish than running a marathon, but that’s okay because the food is so excellent. You’ll also hang out for a while because this place embodies friendly diner vibes (free café de olla refills included). The drenched-in-green-salsa breakfast burrito, Yulis breakfast sandwich (on the fluffiest bread known to humankind), and the huevos en ahogada are graduate-level classes in egg making, but you can’t go wrong with anything. Just make sure you get the crispy arrachera in one of your dishes, and don’t leave without trying the decadent tres leches pancakes.

Town’s End Brunch looks like your typical get-in-get-out breakfast joint serving hearty American classics, with plenty of tables and a laid-back vibe. That all very well may be true, but this South Beach spot delivers some extras. Omelets are served in large cast iron skillets. A full-on juice bar with made-to-order green drinks is up front. And standard build-your-own benedicts, french toast, and huevos rancheros go alongside a Warriors Breakfast plate with hash brown-topped biscuits and chicken fried steak (how it relates to the actual Warriors is a mystery to us). Anyone who frequented this morning spot when it was Town’s End Cafe will find the large space still ideal for making waking up early more bearable, and looking at Bay Bridge views.

The New York-style fried egg sandwiches from this counter-service spot in the Mission are what dreams are made of—if those dreams included the BEC. The hand-held concoction comes with american cheese, bacon, and a fried egg on a poppy seed roll. Words that come to mind when we think about it: gooey, incredible, order this. The other nine fried egg sandwiches on the menu are also worthwhile, like the one with hash browns and smoked bacon on a toasted French roll.

This cheery NoPa spot is decked out with colorful murals, mosaic tables, and tapestries of El Salvador hanging overhead. And the Mexican, Salvadoran, and other Central American dishes match the day-brightening energy. Go for the plato típico, a leftovers-guaranteed plate of gorgeously fried plantains, a chorizo scramble, and tortillas to wrap everything up. Or the breakfast burrito, which is nearly overflowing with bacon, chorizo, avocado, and potatoes. They also have things like pupusas, birria, and “hella spicy” chilaquiles if you’re after something even heartier. 

Whenever we have a free morning, our first instinct is to spend it working our way through a box of treats from this Chinese bakery in the Sunset. As you might guess from the name, Pineapple King specializes in pineapple buns, and theirs have perfectly crackly toppings and a variety of fillings. We never leave without the ones with gooey mango custard and slabs of guava butter—or a hot dog bun swaddled in golden-brown milk bread. 

If you’re not at Plow when they open (7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends), you’ll be waiting in line for a while. But this is one of the best breakfasts in town, so the wait is worth it. The menu is breakfast classics, so think of things that come with sides of maple syrup, bacon, and potatoes. Go for the Plow Plate, which includes two eggs, their amazing lemon ricotta pancakes, breakfast potatoes, and a required nap afterward.

Breakfast Little is a counter-service spot in the Mission that’s mobbed by loyal fans of the breakfast burrito king. These big boys come in five different varieties, all loaded up with tater tots, eggs, and a side of red or green salsa. Go for The OG with a choice of bacon or sausage (plus cheese and garlic aioli), or try the Tia Maria with fried plantains and queso fresco for a slightly sweet taste that pairs with the charred red salsa about as well as a beer and a sunny day. The burritos are perfect to eat inside the small interior lined with a few pieces of Mexican folk art, but they make an even better treat on the lawn of Dolores Park, so pick up a quick coffee while you’re here, dodge a few bikers, and grab a spot with a great skyline view. 

Eddie’s Cafe is a palace of pancakes, eggs, and in-your-face nostalgia in NoPa. The very casual diner is where we go when the overwhelming urge to eat buttered toast and ketchup-covered hash browns strikes. Once you’re sitting at the counter or in one of the booths covered in stickers, be prepared to sip piping hot coffee from one of their well-worn, mismatched mugs, and drench a stack of pancakes in syrup. Another reason to get here: you’ll spend less on a full entrée than you would on a single mimosa at other breakfast spots around town, and you’ll also be in and out within 45 minutes max. 

Kantine is a Scandinavian-style cafe on Market Street that makes savory and sweet porridges, trout bowls, and sandwiches. This place is well-lit and airy, and will probably make you want to pull up a chair, grab a latte, and completely ignore everything else you have going on today—or, at least, finally start the novel that’s been sitting on your nightstand for months. However long you end up staying at this casual spot, don't pass on the excellent cinnamon knot.

Cinderella Bakery has popular Russian and Polish breakfast items like french toast and egg plates, but you're here for the syrniki—sweet, dense cheese pancakes that are fried and crispy on the outside. If you're more in the mood for savory, potato vareniki dumplings all the way. And on nice mornings, the sidewalk patio is a good place to relax—if you can find a seat. This place pulls in a crowd.

One thing guaranteed to make you throw off the covers and jump out of bed: the Special Breakfast sandwich from Devil’s Teeth. It comes on a biscuit. It’s beautiful and topped with softly scrambled eggs and a solid amount of avocado mashed on top. But don’t take our word for it—just get to this Outer Sunset spot. There's also locations in the Richmond and the Embarcadero.

There are several reasons why this tiny bakery in Chinatown always has a line out the door—there is limited standing room, and most of the grab-and-go dim sum options are excellent, from char siu bao to turnip cakes to sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. Everything here is takeout only (there are no seats), but the benches of Portsmouth Square are just a few blocks away.

The Mission bakery makes one incredible biscuit sandwich. Full stop. And the best part about them is you can customize everything from the cheese to proteins to spreads, right down to the warm and flaky biscuit itself (buttermilk, cheddar bacon, or dill swiss). This quick spot also has other amazing morning options, like pastries and quiches.

photo credit: Krescent Carasso

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We love Tartine Bakery for pretty much everything, but if you’re looking for more of a sit-down breakfast situation, Tartine Manufactory has it beat. The space is larger, so even on a crowded morning, it’s easy to get a table. On top of that, this place looks like an editorial spread in some modern architecture magazine with high ceilings, open kitchen, and a creative wine glass pergola next to the giant windows. The menu is much larger, too, with things like breakfast sandwiches and quiches, along with all of the pastries you could want.

Our perfect morning always includes laying around in the sun with our wandering neighborhood cat before heading to The Mill for a light breakfast and coffee. And if you’ve got a full day ahead of you, there’s no better place to fuel up. The NoPa bakery makes incredible housemade bread, which they also serve in toast form, topped with things like avocado or seasonal jam. It’s fantastic, and even better with an espresso drink.

This place has two locations—one in the Haight and one in the Mission. We’re partial to the original Haight version, but you can’t go wrong with either. Pork Store Café is all about old-school, hearty diner food, with excellent eggs benedicts and Bloody Marys. Always get a biscuit on the side.

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