Why does San Francisco wake up so f*cking early? Is everyone getting out of bed to walk dogs, or go running, or just to get in line at Plow? Maybe it’s because the city shuts down at 10pm - we’ve got nothing else to do.
Whatever your motivation for being up and about in the early hours, we’ve compiled our favorite spots that will serve you coffee, carbs, eggs, and other things before 9am. Don’t sleep on this updated list.
This SOMA cafe/workspace is easy to miss unless you’re a bloodhound with a thirst for croissants. Don’t make the mistake of missing it. The aforementioned croissants are basically desserts masquerading as breakfast, but we’re not complaining about that. We especially like the mocha and strawberry versions - but the regular ones hold their own, too. And the egg sandwich, breakfast pizza, and quiches are very good as well. It’s lucky we don’t live next door to this place, because we would be eating 90 croissants a day.
Verve used to be a place we went in Santa Cruz to feel bad about how unchill our lives were/stare at people with apparently endless time to surf, drink coffee, and eat croissants. Now, we can do the same thing right here in San Francisco. Besides A+ coffee, they serve an excellent prosciutto egg biscuit and a strong take on avocado toast. The almond croissants and quiche are also worth your time, and it’s a nice place to hang for a while as you consume all of the above.
Australians apparently invented avocado toast, as well as coffee shops. Or if they didn’t invent them, at some point they became the best at them. This particular Australian cafe does excellent coffee/espresso drinks and toasts, plus pastries that are much better than your typical glass-case options. Ideal for workday breakfasts and planning your someday trip to the Great Barrier Reef/future with an undiscovered Hemsworth cousin.
If you’ve ever driven down Lombard St. and wondered what the random crowd was for, now you know. It was for Home Plate. This old-school diner is very, very good, and not full of succulents and wall hangings and kale for you to take pictures of. It is full of delicious omelets, free homemade scones you will devour (maybe less because they’re good and more because they’re free), and quality salmon bagels. When you need tasty things you can eat in your baggiest sweatpants, this is the place.
Alternatively, when you want fantastic carbs in a place that looks like it belongs in a lifestyle magazine, Tartine Manufactory fits the bill. It’s a beautiful space full of beautiful sugar/flour/egg concoctions, and we would like to attach it directly to our homes (or maybe just move into the adjacent Heath store for maximum access). The weekday breakfast crowd is light, and we endorse sitting down for a full meal over taking coffee and pastry to-go. The smoked salmon tartine or baked eggs with zaatar toast are our current favorites.
You go to this distinguished, slightly Old World-feeling Eastern European spot at breakfast for one thing only: the lox bagel. If you want to rebel, you can get the granola, which is also great, but the bagel is above and beyond. The dill, pickled shallots, and everything bagel are a perfect combination, and it’s an incredibly nice place to eat and relax before facing the day.
Yes, Reveille is a “Coffee Co.,” but it’s also much more than that - as evidenced by the breakfast menu offerings, from the chia pudding to the avocado toast to the prosciutto frittata. The staff is incredibly nice, and overall it’s just kind of place you want to hang out in as long as you can.
The granola here is incredible, and even somewhat healthy. If you’re feeling more indulgent, the breakfast sandwich and croissants are standouts as well. And if you’re living the life of a pretend caveman, they even have paleo muffins that don’t make us want to die. Very casual, and great for grabbing a quick bite by yourself or with a few friends.
Wise Sons brings some seriously strong bagels to San Francisco, especially at their second location, right across from State Bird. Open at 7am on weekdays, this tiny cafe cranks out East Coast-style bagels and bialys all day long. The smoked salmon and bodega egg & cheese sandwiches are what you want.
This low-key corner cafe across from, wait for it, Duboce Park has tons of outdoor tables, airy open windows, and bar seating. The scrambles and breakfast sandwiches are straightforward and tasty, and the prices are what you actually want to pay, not what you have tricked yourself into thinking is normal to pay in San Francisco.
The best breakfast sandwich in the city for under $7 (you want the Special Breakfast, with eggs, cheese, bacon, avocado, and aioli). It’s on a biscuit, and it’s beautiful. On a nice morning, sitting on the benches or walking out to Ocean Beach to stuff yourself and watch the surfers is actual perfection.
Jane has three cafe locations - one on Fillmore, one on Larkin, and one on Geary. The Fillmore location is busier during the week, so prepare to wait in line, then eat your avocado toast, egg sandwich, granola, or pastry surrounded by athleisure fans, people on their laptops, or both. The avocado toast in particular is one of the best around.
Be here at 7:30, or 8, or whenever it opens on the day you’ve targeted - the line becomes ferocious real damn early. There’s something about the phrase “morning bun” that makes it sound healthier than its literal description, “giant sugar-encrusted cinnamon-roll-slash-croissant,” but healthy or not, the morning buns are what you’re here for. The almond croissants are pretty great, too, as are the chocolate ones... and the regular ones. Not to mention the exceptional bread.
In case you’ve been living under a toadstool and missed this situation, The Mill is known for serving fancy, expensive toast with addictive bread and creative jams and spreads. Fun fact: the guy who runs it is named Josey Baker. Total coincidence. But seriously, the bread is fantastic. Go here.
The other purveyor of fine toasts in town. Cinnamon, honey-peanut-butter - there might as well be nothing else on the menu.
The croissants here are incredible, and the granola with yogurt is our favorite in the city. If you want something more interactive, the breakfast board option lets you pick eggs, toast, fruit, lox and other fixings to create your own spread. The Marina location is the original, but we’re pretty into the Castro one these days, as the light-filled corner spot is a bit calmer than Chestnut Street.
Pork confit breakfast burritos. That’s really all you need to know. Throw in a full case of better-than-average pastries and a huge back garden/patio, and you’re living the Hayes Valley dream.
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 at either. Old-school, hearty diner food, with excellent eggs benedict and a Bloody Mary bar. Always get a biscuit on the side.
An inventive bakery with pastries that look like they came straight from a museum display case (but taste much better). For example, the “Rebel Within,” a savory muffin with a soft-boiled egg inside. If you haven’t been already, it’s worth your time to check it out.
This is basically the “ladies who lunch” version of breakfast in the heart of Pacific Heights. Everyone looks like they’re just ducking out of their $10-20 million home for a quick pastry. The kouign-amann is a signature, but the middle tends to get kind of soggy. We usually go for the almond croissant or banana bread instead.
It’s rare to find a full-on sit-down breakfast spot that opens before 8am on a weekday. And tourists: if you somehow got tricked into staying in one of the Lombard Street motels “next to the Golden Gate Bridge,” then Rose’s is your spot for an “I got duped, time to treat myself” breakfast. Can’t go wrong with the smoked salmon breakfast pizza.
A sanctuary in the Ferry Building with truly fantastic eggs. When you want to feel relaxed and civilized, and also eat delicious food in front of a great view, Boulette’s is your spot.
Go here, order the croissant breakfast sandwich, add all the things, and thank us later. Or, if you don’t feel like taking a nap immediately after breakfast, get some juice and granola to-go.
OK, no joke, you better be here at the EXACT moment they open, or ideally 5-10 minutes before. Is it worth it? Yes, it is. This is the best sit-down breakfast in town. Accept no substitutes. Unless you showed up 15 minutes after it opens, in which case you should realistically get good and ready to accept some substitutes.