Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Best Breakfasts in San Francisco

Why do we love going out for breakfast? I mean, logically we should prefer to laze around in pajamas and read the paper. But somehow the lure of better-than-homemade pancakes, eggs benedict, corned beef hash and the like pulls us out of the comfort of our homes in search of the first meal of the day.

Everyone has their favorite breakfast places. For some, it may be proximity or hospitality that makes a place worth standing in line for. But for me, it's really all about the food. And I'm willing to head halfway across town for a breakfast that satisfies.

Typically I don't review a place just on the basis of breakfast, but as a result some of my favorite places get overlooked. So here without further ado, in no particular order, are my picks for best breakfast.

1. Kate's Kitchen
I've tried their lunch specialties but nothing compares to their massive pumpkin pancakes with just a touch of cornmeal. Just be sure to order a short stack I've yet to be able to finish two plate-sized pancakes. The other must-order here is the New England Flannel Hash. Huge chunks of corned beef are cooked up with onions, potatoes, carrots and sometimes other root veggies making a dish that resembles a chunky stir fry.

2. Home Plate
Breakfasts here come with lots of extras. Practically anything you order comes with sweet rolls, potato pancakes and a fresh hot scone, all homemade. What to order? I'd go with the unique turkey hash, with cashews and a horseradish sauce. The huevos rancheros are also terrific as are any of the scrambles or omelets.

3. Mama's on Washington Square
This is a place where it's hard to decide what to order because everything is so good. The french toast comes slathered with fresh berries and is made with a decadent coffee cake or baguette. The eggs benedict is one of the best in town and keep your eyes open for special versions that come with Bay shrimp or crab. All the special omelets are a treat.

4. Sears Fine Foods
This old standard got a complete makeover and it's now a homey showcase of Americana. But when it comes to breakfast, stick with the Swedish pancakes. Sears is one of the only places that makes them anymore and don't miss out on the ligonberry sauce, one order of the sauce is easily enough for two orders of these silver dollar almost crepe style pancakes.

5. Pastores CLOSED
I know it's way out in Bernal Heights but it's worth the trek. The chilaquiles and huevos rancheros here are divine. So is the friendly greeting you get when you come in. While breakfast is served all day here, if you are more in the mood for lunch go ahead and try the enchiladas with mole sauce. You'll be glad you did.

6. Foreign Cinema
Ok this is more of a brunch place than a breakfast place but I can't but include it. But everyone will find something they like here from kids to hipsters to grandma and grandpa. Service is friendly and the delicate scrambled eggs are scrumptious! But there are also salads and egg dishes that are strictly out of the ordinary. How about poached eggs with duck breast, salad and croutons? Or eggs deglazed with balsamic vinegar and a potato garlic hash? Brunch is only available on the weekends, until 3:30 p.m.

Over at Bay Area Bites is my take on Bay Area Cookbooks of 2006