Best Brunches - 2008
Brunch can be a relaxing and delightful meal, not to mention affordable. Diverse settings range from a noisy factory-inspired box with cement walls and floors to a bucolic backyard patio that transports you far away from city streets. And the basic egg has changes rung on it from Down Under to Old N'Awlins.
South Food & Wine Bar
330 Townsend (at Fourth St.), 974-5599
The Australian menu at the chic and modern South Food & Wine Bar showcases many original and enticing dishes. The toasted coconut bread served with New Zealand honey should not be missed, nor the warmed crumpets that come with butter, marmalade, and mashed banana. Main courses include an egg glazed with truffle sauce served atop citrus-cured fresh salmon; sweet corn fritters with bacon and maple syrup; and South's signature crab and enoki mushroom omelette in a miso broth. The Aussie "big breakfast" is big indeed: steak, sausage, bacon, fried eggs, mushrooms, sliced avocado, and toast. You might need a nap after finishing that meal, mate.
2501 Mariposa (at Hampshire),
There are a few sidewalk tables outside the cement-walled Slow Club, whose minimal interior is industrial chic to the max. But the weekend brunch menu is lively and imaginative: it changes frequently, but you might find a turkey sausage hash (augmented with potatoes, yams, apples, and onions, and topped with poached eggs, baby arugula, and Cheddar), or grilled flatbread (topped with apples, caramelized onions, baked egg, Montasio cheese, and sage), or an asparagus frittata topped with roasted tomato relish. An excellent burger, Caesar salad, and two eggs with home fries, bacon or sausage, and a biscuit can always be found.
3913 24th St. (at Sanchez), 282-0344
The big draw at Savor is hidden behind it: a spacious and tree-shaded courtyard patio. Everything on the extensive menu is named: The La Mancha omelette contains chicken-apple sausage, mushrooms, scallions, and provolone; the Provence egg scramble, fresh salmon, spinach, onions, and goat cheese; Haifa French toast is made with challah and topped with apple pie filling. There are ten different savory crepe dishes, and four variations on eggs Benedict. No reservations, but call ahead and they'll put you on the list.
Brenda's French Soul Food
652 Polk (at Eddy), 345-8100
Brenda's says it serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, and brunch on Saturdays on Sundays. The two menus are so similar that this is a place where you can have a relaxed brunch feast seven days a week. Brenda's version of French soul food is New Orleans Cajun-Creole: grillades and grits (beef cutlets in spicy sauce); andouille and Cheddar omelette; a Creole veggie omelette stuffed with corn maque choux, tomato, onions, peppers, spinach, and cheese; an egg-and-bacon tartine, bacon, scrambled egg, Gruyère and tomato-bacon hash piled on a toasted French roll. Don't miss the beignets – plain or stuffed with chocolate, apples, or crawfish!
Dottie's True Blue Cafe
522 Jones (at O'Farrell), 885-2767
An unassuming shoebox with a cheesy awning smack in the middle of the Tenderloin, Dottie's has been commanding hour-long weekend brunch waits for years. Of course, the wait makes the food taste at least 15 percent better. Inside, the drop ceiling and matching cozy ephemera make the place feel even smaller, and the air is moist with maple syrup. But Dottie's uses the dive vibe to its advantage, making standard brunch fare with couture twists (rosemary lamb sausage, homemade buttermilk dill toast, goat cheese) seem especially groundbreaking. Eggy French toast and buttery pastries round out the baked goods selection. Portions are hefty, but so are price tags (at least for this area). Still, it's not just tourists suffering out there on not-yet-spring mornings. Just be prepared: Bring a book, and a sweater.