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….
“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.
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.
Ok, I realize that writing about Specialty’s in San Francisco is kinda like writing about a Seven Eleven in a lesser city. That’s an exaggeration. But still, Specialty’s is sort of the San Francisco version of your average bakery and deli. There are a handful of them scattered around downtown, a few elsewhere in the bay area, and a few out of state. But I write about them because I find them to be utterly amazing.
What do you eat for lunch if you live in a regular city? Like Subway or something? Pish posh. I work in San Francisco and I order a Specialty’s sandwich at least once a week. Here is my favorite:
It’s called the Mediterranean. (Try spelling that without spell check. I dare you.) The Mediterranean: Fresh mozzarella with kalamata olives, spinach, tomato, basil, red pepper pesto, basil pesto and balsamic vinaigrette on toasted thyme focaccia. Two types of pesto! Olives! And fine, I’m all snooty about it and I swap out the focaccia for ciabatta. Which is so easy to do with their online ordering system whereby I choose what I want (and sub in/out any ingredients!) and then go pick it up at the store 15 minutes later. It’s amazing….
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:…
Update: Cafe Divine is now closed.
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.
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.