More specifically -Best Breakfast, Best dim sum SF?
If you're visiting from Canada, then factors such as location and atmosphere are important. In this light, I recommend the East Ocean restaurant at the tip of Emeryville's pier in the East Bay (a quick car trip from downtown SF), which offers a pretty good dim sum at reasonable prices, fantastic bay views and relatively short waits compared to the top SF joints in the Richmond District (not to mention the time you'll save trying to park there).
I believe the best breakfast in the bay area might still be at Bette's in west Berkeley, on 4th St&Hearst
Consistently excellent, since the early 80s. Just about everything on their long breakfast/lunch menu is good, from the huevos rancheros to the Philly scrapple (even the meatloaf is good!) Menu is long and varied. Lines are long too, but with Cody's and Hear Records nearby, waiting is not a problem. The lines are short on weekdays.
Hidden City Cafe, Point Richmond
In Point Richmond, an old, charming and undiscovered neighborhood near the water. The food is excellent; suffize to say that the chef was formerly at Chez Panisse. The lunch/brunch menu changes constantly, and the prices are fairly reasonable. The lines aren't bad at all, and the drive along the water after brunch is quite pleasant. Perhaps a bit out of the way for a tourist, but I just mentioned it for the locals who might be interested.
Makris, in Berkeley
Cheap, unpretentious greasy spoon near campus on University just east of Shattuck. Good basic American breakfast fare served by a friendly Korean couple at rock-bottom prices. A bit divy, but good breakfast sandwiches, and the freshest hash browns around in a cozy laid-back atmosphere (orange vinyl stool chairs along formica counter...)
One of the most beautiful view/location for brunch in the bay area is on the Alta Mira's deck in Sausalito. This large deck is perched on top of a green Sausalito hill and offers panoramic bay and City views (Angel Island blocks the view of Berkeley...) The view only gets better when you dive into the excellent eggs benedict (a la carte menu). However, brunch is only served on Sundays.
Further out in Marin county, the Pelican Inn offers a nice small buffet brunch for a very reasonable $16 including roast beef and turkey. The Pelican Inn is an exceptional Bed & Breakfast plucked right out of the english countryside(litterally). It is on highway 1 in Muir Beach, on the way to Stinson beach. It is actually a better place for dinner, and a great place to stop for a pint of Bass Ale after a day on the beach or in the woods of Marin.
Which part of Canada are you from? I would also appreciate tips for brunch and dim sum in either Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal...
For best breakfast/brunch in San Francisco I have three recommendations:
1. "La Note" in Berkeley. If you are staying in San Fran during your visit, it's very easy to get to by BART (subway and is just a couple blocks south of the Downtown Berkeley stop. It's adorable, affordable and has a wonderfully varied menu. Their carmelized onion omelette with their famous roasted tomatoes is 'to die for' as are their pancakes. Friendly and casual. Can be a wait on weekends but moves quickly. Breakfast seven days a week.
2. If you don't want to go to Berkeley but would rather eat in SF proper, I recommend "Absinthe" in Hayes Valley (very near the Civic Center) for an upscale, very European feel. Brunch is on weekends only. Lush and a little expensive for breakfast foods but excellent. I always have attentive service and can read & journal for a long time when alone or talk for ages with friends over delicious food and coffee.
3. If you are in a more casual mood, "Chloe's Cafe" in Noe Valley is also excellent. Cheap and scrumptious, their banana walnut pancakes are top notch as are their eggs mixed with cream cheese or other choices. The wait can be long as the place is tiny, but it's on a sunny, quiet corner and is the perfect place to have a bright, relaxed breakfast. They serve breakfast 7 days a week which is also ideal.
I prefer Venus, just a block up Shattuck from La Note. Their breakfasts are heartier without sacrificing taste. They also havea very interesting Indian breakfast that I've been meaning to try. The wait's usually about 20-30 minutes.
Rick and Ann's, across from the Claremont, also has great breakfasts. I found the portions to be a bit smaller than Venus but that means you can try more. I've never eaten there for lunch or dinner but have eaten at several functions catered by them. They make absolutely delicious finger foods and are reasonably priced.
I can't believe I didn't remember to recommend this yesterday -- the tiny Just for You Cafe on Portero Hill (think it's Missouri/18th) is wonderful. Typical breakfast fare: bacon, eggs, home fries, are something special. The oat-pancakes are amazing, as are any of the egg fry-ups. But the real treat at Just for You is the *incredible* crabcake, best in the city. It'll cost you $3.50 but it is worth it. I always get a crabcake sandwich. Fresh, delectable crab meat with New Orleans spices, freshly-baked bread, a ripened tomato...mmm.
The best Dim Sum hands-down, Koi Palace in Daly City. A quick jaunt off the 280 South. Serramonte Plaza
365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City CA 94015
Tel: (650) 992-9000
Saturday and Sunday mornings are quite busy. So get there early, about 9 am. Or else be prepared for a long wait (suggestion, bring a magazine). Don't leave this place without trying shark fin dumpling in soup (Boon Tong Gao, I think). Kinda pricey for one bowl, but it is worth it. Also, a specialty dessert I always get are these egg puffs with sugar on the outside (Tong Sa Bao). Double yum.
Hope you like this place. I know I do.