The Ultimate Guide to the Best Bay Area Brunches

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Bay Area Brunches

By Rachael Medina
Staff Writer May 23, 2020

As communities across the world and in California mitigate health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are shifting our content focus and not encouraging any travel or social activities during this time. We will, however, continue to shine a light on and celebrate the many beautiful aspects of our State with the intention of being a source of inspiration and joy during this difficult period. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

Rich hollandaise drips down the plump whites of an artfully poached egg as the arugula, feta, ham, and English muffin greet one another. Fluffy, fresh-from-the-fryer beignets are dusted with powdered sugar as a freshly poured latte is carefully carried to its table. A deep sigh of simple pleasure can be heard at the neighboring table, as the couple ponders the rest of their weekend plans while finishing off a cup of elderflower tea. After plenty of anticipation, each of your dishes are brought to the table, and glasses are raised and clink together in delight as you cheers to brunch. Indeed, brunch is a weekend activity worth toasting to.

The Bay Area’s culinary landscape is nothing if not enviable; from Michelin-starred eateries to French-inspired cuisine that sparked a farm-to-table revolution, the region is home to numerous innovative and world-renowned chefs. Now, there’s another reason to experience the Bay’s exceptional epicurean offerings—the region has fully embraced one of the best ideas since sliced bread: brunch. So, wherever you are in the Bay Area, there’s bound to be a fantastic brunch spot nearby. Here are the best places for brunch in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond.  

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BEST BRUNCHES IN THE EAST BAY


Craving gourmet breakfast creations but don’t want to travel all the way into the city? Make reservations for
brunch in the East Bay, and you may never go back to your old ways. With delectable eateries sprawled across Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, there’s no shortage of incredible dishes to sample.

BEST BRUNCH IN WALNUT CREEK

Start a weekend morning off right with some avocado toast from Main Street Kitchen in Walnut Creek. Photo courtesy of Main Street Kitchen.

MAIN STREET KITCHEN

Situated amongst the boutiques and eateries of Downtown Walnut Creek, Main Street Kitchen is a step above the rest. With a strong dedication to local and seasonal cooking, this joint serves up elegant, farmers market–fresh meals, making it our personal favorite spot for brunch in the Bay Area.

Featuring house-made fennel sausage, crispy Yukon potatoes, caramelized onions, and exquisite sunny-side-up eggs, the old-fashioned potato hash is a crowd favorite—and for good reason. Main Street Kitchen offers some of the best breakfast in the Bay Area, so arrive early to try the house-made glazed donuts with your lavender latte; these sweet treats are so incredible that they regularly sell out. 

Too late for brunch? Head in for dinner; you won’t be disappointed. Order the cheese platter for the table and a wood-fired pizza just for yourself (trust us, you won’t want to share).

BEST BRUNCH IN LAFAYETTE

Cure any craving with the ultra-rich waffle sandwich at Lafayette's Hideout Kitchen. Photo courtesy of the Hideout Kitchen.

THE HIDEOUT KITCHEN

When soul-warming comfort food meets the best meal of the day, you know it’s going to be something special, and The Hideout Kitchen doesn’t disappoint. Seasonally changing menus keep the mystery alive, presenting the perfect excuse to visit the charming town of Lafayette and enticing guests to return and try the most recent culinary creations.

Start with a cup of coffee or an Arnold Palmer as you settle in. Then, opt for the waffle sandwich for an indulgent meal you’ll never forget; country-fried steak, sausage gravy, maple syrup, and an over-easy egg bring the waffles to life while a dusting of powdered sugar transports you to your childhood. Astrid’s Florentine is also something to write home about, though it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu. 

After brunch, head out on Contra Costa’s best hiking trails to take advantage of the region’s temperate weather. 

BEST BRUNCH IN DANVILLE

Savor an array of delectable brunch dishes at Sideboard in Danville. Photo courtesy of Sideboard.

SIDEBOARD 

Head to Sideboard on weekend mornings to experience some ridiculously delicious breakfast and brunch dishes. Try the breakfast mac for an indulgent mac and cheese—piled high with two fried eggs and savory bacon—to discover your newest guilty pleasure. Or, go with the more traditional eggs Benedict, whose tangy feta and balsamic vinaigrette provide a nice surprise.

No matter which main course you order, you have to follow it up with a round of beignets. Sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with house-made preserves, these decadent treats are worth the wait. Make sure to get a latte from the coffee bar, too, and watch your caffeine dreams come true with a large cup of exquisite espresso. 

BEST BRUNCH IN OAKLAND

Don't leave Oakland's Brown Sugar Kitchen without trying the famous buttermilk fried chicken and cornmeal waffles with apple-cider syrup.

BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN

This East Bay eatery is doing brunch right, thanks to the award-winning chef-owner, Tanya Holland, who primarily uses locally grown, seasonal, and organic ingredients to create comforting, high-quality dishes. While the Brown Sugar Kitchen menu changes with the seasons, don’t skip out on the smoked mashed yams with a crater of brown-sugar butter, if it’s available. Another must-try item is the famous buttermilk fried chicken and cornmeal waffles, served with brown-sugar butter and apple-cider syrup. No joke, it will totally change your life.

For a brunch dish with extra protein, opt for the smoked pork hash topped with two poached eggs. Regardless of what you order, the soul food fare will leave you with a new go-to spot for the best brunch in the Bay Area. With a full belly, you’ll be fueled up to explore Oakland

COSECHA 

Cosecha brings together local, seasonal ingredients in its traditional Mexican dishes. Tucked inside the 100-year-old Swan’s Market in Uptown Oakland, this eatery takes food seriously, crafting everything from scratch every single day—including the tortillas used in everything from the mouthwatering tacos to the innovative quesadillas. Head in for Saturday brunch to savor the chilaquiles adorned with salsa roja, scrambled eggs, avocado, crema, and cotija cheese. Or, indulge in the mushroom quesadilla loaded with sautéed mushrooms and Oaxacan cheese—but do yourself a favor and add on the braised pork. 

BEST BRUNCH IN BERKELEY

Bite into a slice of the satisfying brunch pizza offered at Gather in Berkeley. Photo courtesy of Gather.

GATHER

Creating a positive impact lies at the heart of everything Gather does. From choosing to work out of the David Brower Center—the most environmentally friendly building in the East Bay—to using only local and sustainable ingredients, the restaurant puts a great deal of thought into its overall philosophy. 

Begin your brunch with the unique doughnuts featuring peanut butter–miso caramel, cinnamon, and sugar as you peruse the rest of the menu. The brunch pizza is the perfect next course—the delicate crust is topped with eggs, bacon, caramelized onion, and oregano—though you can't go wrong with the sunny-side-up eggs, braised greens, and pork sausage gravy stacked atop fluffy biscuits, either. Regardless of which entrée you order, finish the morning meal with a macchiato and a warm chocolate chip cookie for a little slice of heaven. 

BEST BRUNCHES IN SAN FRANCISCO

Enjoy elevated brunch fare at Marlowe, a stylish farm-to-eatery in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Marlowe.

MARLOWE  

Marlowe is one of the brunch places in S.F. and among our favorite women-owned businesses in the city. Every inch of the restaurant is intentionally designed with hexagonal white-tiled floors, wooden tables, and curated menus, creating a unique space and ambience.

Spark your curiosity with the warm deviled eggs—topped with aged provolone, spicy pickled jalapeño, and savory bacon—before moving on to the craveable ricotta toast accented with apple compote, a drizzle of honey, and a dash of sea salt. Continue your culinary journey with the perfectly cooked New York steak and over-easy eggs, all balanced by a bright chimichurri sauce and smashed fingerling potatoes. Wash it down with the unique West Bay Sparrow, a refreshing combination of pineapple juice, hibiscus, and lemonade that will leave you dreaming of tropical summer days.  

FOREIGN CINEMA

Foreign Cinema is as much a destination as it is an experience. So, settle in and prepare to be transported to another world by the intoxicating flavors you’re about to experience. Begin with an order of the baked lavender goat cheese—a delightfully delicate dish served with radicchio, pear, and toasted bread. These welcoming flavors will ease you in, acting as an aperitif for the forthcoming California oysters. Choose between a half dozen or a full dozen for the table as you get ready for the main course. 

If the savory creations are calling during your Sunday brunch in San Francisco, opt for the crispy pork carnitas and fried eggs featuring al pastor, chicharrónes, radish escabeche, and queso cojito. But if you’re craving something sweeter, order the baguette French toast topped with Maui pineapple, toasted coconut, Macadamia nuts, and lime-maple butter; it’s unlike any other French toast you’ve ever had before. No matter which direction you go in, the winning dishes here will bring you back weekend after weekend. 

BEST BRUNCH IN SAN JOSE

Indulge in a plate of decadent pancakes at San Jose's Breakfast Club at Midtown. Photo courtesy of The Breakfast Club at Midtown.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB AT MIDTOWN

For a fantastic brunch in the South Bay, drive over to The Breakfast Club at Midtown. While the eatery serves up plenty of classics, the signature red-velvet pancakes draw crowds and keep them coming back. Featuring powdered sugar, whipped cream, a cream-cheese drizzle, and chocolate chips, these pancakes are incredibly indulgent. Order the Florentine eggs Benedict for a lighter meal; poached eggs mix with sautéed spinach for a healthy option that feels luxurious.

What are your favorite brunch spots in the Bay Area? Let us know where to go next in the comments below.

Staff Writer
Rachael Medina

Staff Writer Rachael Medina

Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…

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