Five Best Breakfasts - 2004
Breakfast is one of our three favorite meals, and as it's the first one we've been allowed to enjoy since last night's dinner, it possesses a certain anticipatory as well as gustatory importance. Luckily, there are lots of places around town where the consequence of properly breaking one's fast is respected and catered to. Here are five.
Pork Store Cafe
1451 Haight (at Ashbury), 864-6981
Sit at the counter of this bare-bones temple to the great American breakfast and watch the counterman sprinkle blackberries over frying pancake batter, douse sizzling hash browns with melted butter, and throw together a scramble bursting with mushrooms and Mexican sausage. Other morning highlights include luscious grits, smoky pork chops, cloudlike biscuits, corned beef hash, a tasty eggs Benedict, and even a few vegan options. The mood is fun and friendly, the walls are plastered with vintage Haight artwork, the dozen tables are perpetually packed, and the waitstaff is terrific.
901 South Van Ness (at 20th Street), 648-8383
Our favorite morning-after hangover remedy is chilaquiles, day-old tortillas fried with eggs, onions, cheese, and salsa, available every morning at this cheerful, folksy Mission District restaurant. The chilaquiles come with a mountain of rice and refried beans, and by the end of the meal, the day has dawned anew. Other breakfast specialties include menudo, posole, eggs scrambled with cactus and onion, and huevos rancheros with house-made tortillas. Cinnamon-scented Mexican chocolate is the beverage of choice.
Boulange de Polk
2310 Polk (at Green), 345-1107
Boulange is a little bit of le Rive Gauche on the slopes of Russian Hill, complete with sun-dappled sidewalk tables ideal for cafe-sipping and people-watching. This is the place for an exquisite continental breakfast of caf? au lait (served in a big bowl) and one of the fabulous house pastries: a chocolate-hazelnut brioche, a strawberry-rhubarb tart, perhaps a feathery almond croissant. There are also simple, sublime sandwiches of butter and ham on freshly baked baguettes that will Proust you into a reverie about that little zinc-topped bar à vin in the Fourth Arrondissement.
674 Broadway (at Stockton), 398-8838
The classic spot to sample jook -- the thick, soul-soothing breakfast porridge ribboned with scallions, fish heads, and other things -- is Sam Wo, legendary purveyor of amusingly rude service, but the variety available at the larger, sunnier Hing Lung is far more extensive and surprisingly delicious. Abalone, roasted duck, fresh clams, and pork-blood curd (pass) are among the 19 jooks served steaming hot (our favorite is the tender whitefish with fresh ginger and cilantro). Get a side order of the airy, crullerlike fried bread for dunking purposes -- the contrasts of smooth-and-crisp and sweet-and-hot make for a marvelous eye-opener.
Dottie's True Blue Cafe
522 Jones (at Geary), 885-2767
Dreamy all-American breakfasts with a touch of class are prepared and served in a tiny, homey setting: cinnamon-ginger pancakes with grilled sausages; three-egg omelets with andouille, pesto, and goat cheese; thick slabs of French toast with pure maple syrup. Just about everything's made from scratch, including marvelous baked goods like extra-thick buttermilk dill bread and grilled corn bread with jalapeño jelly, and if you don't see what you want on the menu, the kitchen will try to whip up something you like. The juices are freshly squeezed, and fruit and granola are available for the health nuts.