If I were filling out a review of Park Chow on Opentable, I would check the box for “neighborhood gem”. And then I’d feel like that was super cheesy and uncheck it. Then I’d remember that it’s hecka accurate and check it again.
Sometimes brunch in SF seems like some sort of Black Friday marathon event. By the size of the lines at some places, you’d think they were giving away gold-encrusted Eggs Benedict for free. The key to these situations? Have a strategy.
As far as I’ve seen, there are two effective strategies: 1) go hellza early, or 2) come prepared to wait hellza long. Strategy number two can consist of going elsewhere nearby for a coffee or bloody Mary, which generally helps ease the pain. Note: if you have a third strategy, do share.
If you happen to be awake and ready to head to a nice breakfast before 9am on a weekend in North Beach, prepare to see a whole lot of “closed” signs, probably a bit of vomit on the sidewalk, and droves of Chinese ladies exercising in the park. Because apparently that’s all that’s happening in the mornings in North Beach — we’re a late night neighborhood.
Hello world! I am back. After a brief hiatus to take some dumb engineering test, and then some subsequent rest to do things like see the sunshine, remind friends that I exist, and generally sit doing nothing at all, I am ready to bloggulate again. Let’s kick this biatch off with Brenda’s.
Brenda’s French Soul Food is in the TL. That’s SF-speak for the Tenderloin. Which is the filth-ridden, junkie-laden, pristinely located neighborhood right in the middle of the city between all the other neighborhoods you like (ex: downtown, Hayes Valley, Nob Hill, etc.). The Tenderloin is like San Francisco’s booby trap for visitors who stumble into the area accidentally, and just a puss-filled blemish on the landscape that natives avoid most of the time.
Sometimes something good takes up residence in the TL. Brenda’s is one of these diamonds in the rough, if you will. Last time I took a cab here, my driver was very confused.
Driver: “You want to go where?”
Me: “Polk between Turk and Eddy.”
Driver: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Yes, it’s ok, I’m meeting people there.”
Drivers are overly concerned when I request seemingly perilous destinations, for some reason.
Anyway, Brenda’s is awesome. It’s a decent-sized place and it will have a good SF wait for a table during weekend brunch. They do breakfast, lunch, dinner, and aforementioned weekend brunch. I’ve been for brunch and dinner, and both were very good.
For brunch, Alicia and I both ordered a Benedict of sorts. They have four choices of Benedicts, all $10 or $11. Comes with nice potatoes or grits.
The “dinner” I had there was just a mash of appetizers/sides shared between me and my two lady friends. The Brie en Croute salad was amazing. Fried shallots, sweet yummy dressing and a ridiculously good flaky bread-covered piece of warm brie. So good.
Other sides we shared were mac ‘n cheese, hush-puppies, and collard greens, and then a dessert of the (nearly mandatory) Beignets and their special of peanut butter mud pie. The mac and puppies were really good, but the collard greens had an unidentified meat product in them which chased off the two veggies at the table. Plus, didn’t really love the taste, oddly. Usually I love any greens.
The Beignets are somewhat of a specialty; you get three per order and they’re massive! Choice of plain (no filling), chocolate, or apple. The sampler comes with one of each. Note also that the price of all these goods is relatively cheap, which makes any SF meal exciting. Aside from the location (which actually isn’t too far south of Nob Hill), it’s a great place.
“My mom and sister are coming to the city for breakfast, where should we go?”
Excellent. One question, one answer. No fuss. No reservation. It was a Monday (New Year’s Eve), so none of the hip brunch-y places in North Beach near my place were going to be open. And, apparently, my knowledge of City breakfast places outside my brunch neighborhood is slim. So, Stacks it was.
Stacks is bigger than your average SF restaurant. Which means the turnover is greater. Which seems to mean the wait is less. Booya. After 15 minutes, free coffee outside the front door, and one oddly-timed power outage (I think it was just a flipped breaker), we were seated in the lushly decorated establishment right in the heart of super cute Hayes Valley. There was even (metered) street parking. Imagine such bliss.
The menu is immense. It’s like a Cheesecake Factory but not shitty. Crepes. Omelettes. Scrambles. Pancakes. Waffles. Fritattas. They even had lunch available as well: sandwiches, salads, burgers, panini, savory* crepes. The selection is intense. And the food does not disappoint. Also, the hash-brown-ish potatoes are amazing.
Also, their mimosas look like this, which is adorable:
And lastly, all the miscellaneous stuff on our table looked like this, and I liked it:
*My mom does not understand the definition of the word “savory”, with respect to food. I have described it as “not sweet” or perhaps “salty”, and used examples such as a “ham and cheese crepe”. The internet did not readily help with an all-inclusive definition (via a 30 second Google search). If you have any thoughts, please do comment.
So you’re in the Richmond. And you want breakfast. And you don’t want to wait in line for an hour on Clement. Enter: Ashley’s.
I love this place. It’s a small cafe, order at the counter, (wo)manned by two nice ladies. They have wireless. And coffee. And fresh-squeezed orange juice from one of those fancy machines. And home-made, organic pastries and breakfast snacks. And onigiri. It’s like Japanese/breakfast fusion that was made just for me. Love.
The menu is small but more than adequate. The serve a variety of breakfast items, a bunch of lunch sandwiches, a handful of bagel sandwiches, a couple salads, and two pot pies (curious, have yet to try these), along with coffee, cooler bevs, and even wine and beer. The counter space hosts a neatly arranged variety of fresh baked goods like lemon poppy-seed bread, organic chocolate chip cookies, and scones. It’s both adorable and yummy.
And for some reason it’s never packed in here. There’s always a few people at the tables with their laptops, but I’ve never had to wait any amount of time to order, and only a short amount of time for them to whip up my order. I think, with the encouragement from a note on their business cards, many people order ahead and come pick up their breakfast. Genius.
Today I shared an egg and cheese croissant (toasted in the oven, yum) and a avocado, tomato, cream cheese bagel. I also splurged for a tuna onigiri, which was delicious (as expected). Thank you, Ashley’s, I will be back.
Word to the Sunset district! I never go out here. Ever. I don’t know if I’ve ever even been before going to Beachside. The Sunset was meh, but Beachside is a good draw out of the beating heart of the city.
This was a Brunch Club venture of a few weeks ago, and it was pretty amazing. Although, you know how if you see a movie with a person who loves that movie it kinda rubs off on you and you like it more than you might have otherwise? If you followed that drawn-out analogy, I think Beachside was kinda like that. None of us had ever been, but we were all oooh-ing and ahhh-ing the whole time, so I think there was a bit of a blindly praising feedback loop going on. I digress.
So, let’s start with the finale. Here is everything we ordered in overhead glory:
It was all pretty amazing, even considering aforementioned feedback loop. Since I have a lot of pictures to showcase, I will try to summarize the experience textually:
And, since we went with the one and only M. Quinn Sweeney, he obviously knew the chef (who, apparently, revamped the menu recently — GOOD JOB SIR) who gave us the VIP treatment. Which meant free pie and cookies. You might imagine that this did not displease me.
Intermission: Why didn’t I take a picture of those grits? They were so good, I want some right now. Continuing on:
The chocolate cookie hiding under the chocolate chip cookie was amazing. I’m not a chocolate cookie person; I always think I want one and then I realize it’s just not as good a chocolate chip. Not to me, at least. But there was something pointedly yet unidentifiably* special about this particular chocolate cookie. I even wrapped the last piece of it up in a napkin and put it in my pocket as we left. Like a hobo.
OH — and they make their own cotton candy. I hate cotton candy, and this kind was apple flavored which is like the most disgusting possible flavor, but the kids I was with loved it. Loved.
*F you, spell check, unidentifiably isn’t a word? WTF?
Welcome to North Beach. We have lots of food to eat here.
If you’re looking for breakfast or brunch (or lunch or dinner), we have Cafe Divine. It’s pretty amazing. Also, their website has lots of over-saturated photos of people grinning hugely. A must-see.
Let’s talk breakfast/brunch. I love brunch. It’s just such a happy meal*. Cafe Divine is pretty accurately named, as far as I’m concerned. Can I start with homemade chive and cheddar biscuits? I seriously wake up on the weekend and have to bargain myself out of getting one of these every day. Slap some jam on that puppy and your day is pretty seriously guaranteed to be amazing. And you’ll totally be ready for a nap afterward.
Breakfast menu: poached eggs, egg scrambles, Bennies from Heaven (see below), waffles, and other lighter fare (bagels, fruit… blah blah — get the Bennies). Fresh OJ. Coffee with alcohol (that’s the Cafe Vov). This place is money.
If you’re keeping breakfast simple, go with the poached eggs. They poach a good egg. And you get a biscuit. Have I mentioned I like the biscuits?
I’ve been here quite a few times now and really like everything, not just the breakfast. With the exception of the cheese and pickle sandwich (which, honestly, they had to really botch to get me not to like it — I love cheese and pickles), their pizzas, salads, and desserts are fab. TRY THE CHOCOLATE CAKE. Just do it. You will be grateful. Not to me, but to whatever heavenly messenger delivers it to you.
*You’re like, “Ah, it’s Sunday, I slept in and it’s sunny and I’m happy. And gee, I’m kinda hungry. It’s time for brunch.” Also, it’s really just breakfast with alcohol. What’s not to love?
It’s Saturday. You want breakfast. Unfortunately, you’re in or around Hayward. Where to go? There are a few choices. I’m not a personal fan of the chain restaurants, so rule out your Denny’s and IHOPs right away. The next steps up are your Emil Villa’s, JD’s, Main Street Diners and Doug’s. Unbeknownst to me, Dell Cafe is also around for your breakfast eating pleasure.
Dell Cafe can be found at 2637 Castro Valley Boulevard, just after the mini golf place but before Redwood Road. I don’t actually think I’ve noticed it before. We passed it trying to find it. But, Yelpers like the place and I wanted a waffle. And hence we arrived at Dell.
This place is a diner. Actually, it’s more like a Diner. Old school style, capital “D” Diner. It’s small with a dozen or more patent leather booths, cheap varnished wood-veneered tables and two rows of counter seating that meet at a corner right as you walk in.
A man behind the counter announced a minimal greeting upon our arrival and we found a booth of our choosing. He presented menus and brought water. The menu is simple. Eggs. Pancakes. Burgers. Sandwiches. They’re only open for breakfast and lunch, 6am-3pm, 7 days a week.
We ordered. An avocado and cheese omelette for the Boyfriend and a blueberry waffle for me. They arrived shortly thereafter. Everything was actually quite good; the food was certainly the highlight of the trip, which I suppose I can’t really complain about.
The omelette had a generous amount of cheese and we suspected that an entire avocado went into its creation. This is a change from the standard few slices typically perched on top of an omelette ordered anywhere else. The hash browns were well done (my favorite) and the Boyfriend was pleasantly surprised.
My blueberry waffle hit the spot like cold lemonade on a Summer day; it was really good. And cheap. It wasn’t one of those immense waffles that ruins your day to eat; it was instead reasonably proportioned and slathered in a ton of previously frozen blueberries in goopy, delicious sauce. I didn’t even need the additional maple syrup that I originally thought I might. It was wonderful.
Overall: if you’re ok with a run down type diner, don’t mind the bare minimum in service, and aren’t expecting to reunite with any friends from college during breakfast, head over for a good old fashioned omelette, pancake or sandwich. Cheap, simple, good food.
Crepes de Art is a creperie — yes, a creperie — in Hayward. You read correctly, the forces of the world have combined in statistically improbable ways and delivered a slice of French chic right smack in the middle of downtown Hayward. And I accept this benevolent gift with promises to keep crepe-ing it up so long as they stay in business.
So, crepes. Have you met me before? It’s going to be hard for me to muster a complaint about anything crepe-related. Fortunately, I have no complaints about the crepes from Crepes de Art to date, they are quite good. The price is right (two crepes for around $11) and they are full of delicious foodstuffs as ordered.
There is a variety of choices — both sweet and savory — including all the usual suspects: strawberries, bananas, apples, lemon, Nutella* and chocolate for the sweeties, and ham, eggs, cheese, mushrooms, turkey and veggies for the savories. And much more, actually, they get a bit creative with the combos (see menu). Plus you can always do a mix and match situation for all the crepe-control-freaks out there (you know who you are).
The presentation is nice (and well captured in my photos if I do say so, thank you for the nice lighting CdA), and the crepes are well crafted and just plain tasty.
Complaints: The times we’ve been here there were a few hiccups that bugged me a bit.
All in all, I do keep going back because I just plain love crepes and theirs are really good. I wish they would get it together a bit on the restaurant peripherals because it makes me wonder if they’re in for the long haul or not, but overall a totally great find in Hayward.
*If you don’t know what Nutella is: A) we should probably not be friends, and B) you should try some as soon as humanly possible (then we can be friends again).