3. Out the Door, Bush Street. Why is there no line outside Out the Door on Saturday mornings? On the day I went, around the corner the Elite Cafe and La Boulange were rocking, yet the 9-month-old branch of Charles Phan's diffusion line — the D&G to the Dolce & Gabbana of his Slanted Door — was nigh empty, the cooks serenely prepping for dinner in between scrambling eggs. Not that I had anything to complain about.

Out the Door serves brunch for people who feel noncommittal about the "br" half of the portmanteau that the British upper classes invented in the late 19th century. Its eggier dishes are tucked among banh mi, rice noodle bowls, and pho. It's possible to play brunch agnostic, lunching on a papaya salad and a Vietnamese crepe, pretending ignorance of the throngs devoted to the Sunday ritual of hash browns and grumbling.

But the breakfast dishes are worth ordering. By and large, chef Grace Nguyen doesn't force Vietnamese and American breakfast traditions together. There's a little coconut in her caramel roll ($3), but as you're unpeeling the spiral of brioche, what you're intent on is capturing as much of the sticky burned-sugar topping as you can scoop up. And if she adds a touch of soy sauce and a few chives to a buttery crab scramble ($12), it's only to deepen the flavor of the crab.

Hangover cure, Vietnamese style: A bowl of rice porridge for brunch.
Melissa Barnes
Hangover cure, Vietnamese style: A bowl of rice porridge for brunch.

Location Info



508 Fourth St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

Category: Restaurant > California

Region: South of Market


508 Fourth St. (at Bryant), 777-1508, www.orsonsf.com. Brunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Uva Enoteca
568 Haight (at Steiner), 829-2024, www.uvaenoteca.com. Brunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Out the Door (Bush)
2232 Bush (at Fillmore), 923-9575, www.outthedoors.com. Brunch 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

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Bowls of rice porridge ($8) seem as appropriate a cure for Friday night cocktails as fruit and oatmeal, the flavor of ginger a sultry undertone beneath the deep chicken, the caramelized shallots, and the splashy rau ram. And the crust on a bacon marmalade quiche ($10) had all the shattering flakes I could hope for; its custard had not overbaked into grainy curds, and the bacon topping (cooked down with caramelized onions) obviated any need for cured pork on the side.

But if there's a reason to go to Out the Door for brunch, it's Chucky Dugo's vanilla beignets ($4 without Vietnamese coffee, $6 with). It's a wonder that the powdered sugar they're coated in hasn't dimpled the fragile surface of the fried dough, and a mystery that their gossamer wheat architecture can contain so much hot air. The beignets are the kind of Sunday morning treat I would line up for, week after week. Not having to wait for them? That made my weekend.

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