If there is one thing San Francisco loves, it’s lines. There’s nothing like a long line of curious pedestrians to vault your business into the stratosphere. Unlike most of my comrades in S.F., though, I hate waiting in lines — especially on a Sunday morning when I’m hungover and ravenous. I just crawled out of bed and I need a booth to sit in, some grub, and the hair-of-the-dog to nurse me back to health. And I need it immediately. That’s why on the weekends I head over to Uptown for breakfast, my favorite saloon that doesn’t even serve food.
When most people hear the letters “BYOB,” they often associate it with a dimly lit bohemian cafe or the mom-and-pop Italian restaurant where you always bring your favorite bottle of Barbera. But Uptown already has the booze — not to mention a pool table and a jukebox. On Saturdays and Sundays, the bar opens at noon, offering a “Bring Your Own Brunch” special for which they only charge $5 for Bloody Marys and mimosas. Half the fun of coming to Uptown for breakfast, besides the cheap cocktails, is personalizing each visit with the components of brunch. It’s only fitting that patrons should support a 35-year-old bar that suffered an existential crisis when longtime owner Scott Ellsworth died in 2014, but whose future seems secure. Here is a short list of perfect little spots for putting together a saloon spread:
Church Street Groceteria
300 Church St.
This cluttered grab-and-go market makes gooey little breakfast sandwiches on English muffins. Similar to a New York bodega, it’s fully equipped with a sandwich station and a glass case full of cold cuts and mayonnaise-based salads. Wrapped in checkered paper, the egg-and-cheese only costs $2.49 (or $4.29 with the addition of avocado, bacon, or ham).
Katz Bagel Bakery
3147 16th St.
Now that we’ve picked up a handful of warm, cheesy sandwiches, bagels are next. At this underrated shop that boils its own bagels — and serves 10 different types of schmears — order a big bag of them and a few tiny tubs of chive, sun-dried tomato, lox, and honey-date cream cheese for a delectable buffet. Each spread ranges from $2.95-$4.50, so you might as well throw in some whitefish salad too while you’re at it.
3639 18th St.
Bi-Rite has some of the ripest and prettiest produce around, and it can’t hurt to throw in a little fresh fruit with all the cholesterol and booze. (It helps with the guilt.) Given that we are right in the middle of citrus season, pick up some oranges, tangelos, and maybe a grapefruit to complement the heavier portions of your bounty.
And there you have it, the perfect “BYOB” picnic. All that’s left to do is skip on over to Uptown for cheap drinks and 25-cent rock-’n’-roll songs. There is no pressure to eat and get out. No starving family staring at you as they await their turn to eat. There is no $15 avocado toast — and no line.
Uptown, 200 Capp St., 415-861-8231