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 you start your morning, here are 23 great places to know about. And, yes, we know this is not all the great breakfast spots in the city, so feel free to email us your picks. Finally, if you’re interested in some great brunch options, use this guide.
The breakfast sandwiches from this Mission spot are what dreams are made of - if those dreams include the BEC, a gooey hand-held concoction with American cheese, bacon, a fried egg, and a poppy seed roll. They have other fried egg sandwiches on the menu, too, including one with hash browns. Also know they open at 8am on weekdays.
Kate’s serves amazing diner food in the Lower Haight . And while we have no idea why they named their dishes things like the Flanched Flarney Garney or the French Toast Orgy, we do know it all translates to “damn good breakfast.” The Flanched Flarney Garney is a breakfast sandwich served with a side of home fries and delicious homemade sausage patties that’s deceptively simple despite the wacky name. The Mindy’s Hash Browns - a huge serving of hash browns wrapped around scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese - is large enough to compromise the suspension in your car. And their cornmeal buttermilk pancakes are impossibly fluffy without losing their cornmeal texture.
Daily Driver in the Dogpatch is one of our favorite places to sit and take in the morning. The space is huge and there are multiple levels and tons of seating, which makes it easy to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee with a book - or, more accurately, thumb through your Instagram feed. Plus, their crusty wood-fired bagels are some of the best in the city, especially if you get them with their housemade gravlax.
The Richmond spot is always mobbed on the weekends, so we like coming to this cafe for a cup of coffee and panko-crusted chicken and waffles on a weekday (when the lines are shorter). If you’re in the mood for eggs, the Mexican scramble comes with black beans, pico de gallo, and tortilla chips, and will keep you full well after lunch.
Cinderella Bakery has beloved breakfast items like french toast and egg plates, but what you’re really here for are the Russian dishes. We like the syrniki - sweet, dense cheese pancakes that are crisp outside. But if you’re more in the mood for savory, get the potato vareniki dumplings. And on nice mornings, their sidewalk seating and parklet is a good place to relax.
The inside of Just For You is covered with everything from old cola advertisements to vintage band posters to a marlin hanging behind the counter, all of which add to the inviting, cozy feel of this spot. The menu here has a lot of New Orleans-inspired things on it, like chicory coffee and beignets, as well as standard breakfast items like egg plates and omelets - we like the one with carnitas.
If you’re looking for a post-11am spot to grab breakfast, head to Auntie April’s. The soul food restaurant in Bayview delivers some of the best excellent chicken and waffles around - perfectly breaded fried chicken and housemade plain, cinnamon, or red velvet waffles.
One thing that is guaranteed to make us 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, it’s topped with softly scrambled eggs and a solid amount of avocado mashed on top. But don’t take our word for it, and just get to this Outer Sunset spot.
Let’s get one thing straight - this Nob Hill spot makes some incredibly good pancakes. And we’ll wait in line here any time for the lemon ricotta version, but if you want something more than just fluffy, morning cake discs, go for the crab Benedict or the chilaquiles verde.
There are several reasons why this tiny takeout-only 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 Portsmouth Square is just a few blocks away.
Simply put, the Mission bakery makes one incredible biscuit sandwich. And the best part about them is you can customize everything from the cheese to proteins to spreads and, right down to the biscuit itself (buttermilk, cheddar bacon, or dill swiss). This spot is also quick, and outdoor seating, and other amazing morning options like pastries, quiches, and coffee.
The French bistro in Cole Valley is a brunch staple thanks to their absurdly good french toast, “miracle” pancakes, and range of benedicts and scrambles. And since you’re grabbing brunch on a weekday, you’ll most likely miss the big weekend brunch crowds (they start serving at 8am). But even still, sign up online to get on their waitlist just in case (this spot doesn’t take reservations.)
We love Tartine Bakery for pretty much everything, but if you’re looking for more of a sit-down breakfast spot, Manufactory has it beat. The space here is way larger, so even on a crowded morning, it’s much easier to get a table (you can also make a reservation for outdoor seating). On top of that, it feels like you’re having coffee inside of an architecture magazine with its high ceilings, open kitchen, and creative wine glass pergola next to the giant windows. The menu here is much larger too, with things like coddled eggs with za’atar and grilled bread, along with all of the pastries you could want.
Pizza for breakfast is generally a glorious thing, and in the case of Rose’s Cafe, a thin-crust pie is an occasion worth getting out of bed for. The salmon version with a cracker crust, lox, scrambled eggs, and creme fraiche is enough for two to split, and if you want something else, go with the granola. There might be a wait at this all-day Union Street bistro, but for food this good, you won’t mind.
This low-key corner cafe across from Duboce Park is one of the chillest breakfast/lunch spots around. They have tons of outdoor tables, open windows, and bar seating. And the scrambles and breakfast sandwiches are straightforward and tasty. In other words, this place gets the job done.
We would get roped into a timeshare at Jane On Fillmore if it were an option, that’s how much we like this place. Getting here early is a good idea because otherwise finding an open table can sometimes feel like being stuck in the middle of a half-off Black Friday sale. You’ll need something to go with your coffee, and that’s where the avocado toast, the egg sandwich, the granola, or any of the pastries come in. Also, just because it’s morning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a cookie from the case.
If you’re not here around when they open (7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends), you’ll be waiting in line for a while. And the line is worth waiting in if you’ve got time because this is one of the best “breakfast” breakfasts in town. Go with the Plow Plate, which includes two eggs, their amazing lemon ricotta pancakes, breakfast potatoes, and a required nap afterward.
Wise Sons Bagel & Bakery
Open at 7am on weekdays, this tiny cafe across from State Bird Provisions cranks out East Coast-style bagels and bialys all day long. The smoked salmon and bodega egg & cheese sandwiches are what you 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 house-made bread, which they also serve in toast form, topped with things like avocado, cream cheese and pesto, or seasonal jam. It’s all fantastic, and even better with an espresso drink to wash it down.
You may not know Taqueria El Buen Sabor as a breakfast spot, so allow us to change that and kindly urge you not to sleep on their breakfast burrito. The chorizo and egg version is enough to fill anyone up for a long while, and after you’ve spent the day walking around the city, it’s good enough to make you want to come back and eat breakfast for dinner.
Pork Store Café
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. Old-school, hearty diner food, with excellent eggs benedicts and Bloody Marys. Always get a biscuit on the side.
It can be tough justifying going somewhere for one and only one thing, but even if this Mission bakery only served their Rebel Within muffin, we’d still tell you to go there. It’s a savory muffin with a soft-cooked egg hidden inside for you to find like the $20 you left in your coat last year, except this is better. If eggs aren’t your thing though, go for anything else in the pastry case, especially the kouign-amann.