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Breakfast / brunch in the Berkeley / Oakland area

Starting a new topic on this subject since the existing ones are a bit out of date.

At 900 Grayson I had one of the best restaurant breakfasts I've had ever. Great hash browns. Nueske bacon was excellent as promised in previous reports. Eccentric but delicious hash. Even the toast was superior.

Not a brunch place, since they stop serving breakfast at 11 and are closed on Sunday.


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    1. Sunnyside Cafe on Solano.

      1. 900 Grayson serves brunch on Saturdays. They're my all around favorite brunch spot, though I wish they opened on Sundays.

        Food wise, Eccolo serves my favorite brunch, though it is spendy. They do excellent standards, their eggs benedict is unparalleled, and the omelletes are fantastic. They also do a great job on the non-egg dishes. I love the wild salmon salad and chicken under a brick with guac. And the Marco's burger is the best burger I've had anywhere, period (and I eat a lot of burgers). They have a full bar (though sadly, no draft beer). The desserts are good, but I usually go across the street to Sketch for sweets.

        Cafe Fanny does my favorite quick(ish), cheap(ish) brunch.

        I haven't been impressed with members of the brunch old guard (Sunnyside, Bettes, Rick and Ann's, etc.) The food is fine, but it lacks the spark and the "wow" factor of newcomers like Grayson and Eccolo.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Morton the Mousse

          Re 900G, is there a brunch menu or can you order from either breakfast or lunch or what?

          Cafe Fanny's prices are high, and service is often so slow that it can take longer than some places with table service.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            There is a brunch menu at Grayson. It combines the "best of" from the breakfast and lunch menus.

            Like I said, Fanny is cheap(ish). For someone seeking a local, sustainable brunch, it's about as cheap as it comes. I usually spend about $10-$12 per person, which is cheap by my standards.

        2. I keep meaning to try sunday brunch at Luka's after raves I've heard about it. I've loved the brunch at Blackberry Bistro in the past, but the restaurant was recently sold, so I'm not sure what's happening there (does anyone else?). I like the food at 900 Grayson, I just wish the service wasn't so...chilly. I'll go back for the hash browns, though. Somerset is the Rockridge brunch newcomer; I've been three times for brunch, and have liked everything that I've had, I just wish the price point was a little lower, and that they had a few simpler dishes (sometimes I just want the eggs any style with potatoes and bacon). Mama's Royal Cafe has it's problems (including really really bad coffee), but their homefries are my favorite anywhere locally, so I'll go there for that.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JasmineG

            Get the oxtail hash at Luka's. OHMIGOD yum! Make sure they don't overpoach the yolks in the eggs, tho.

            The beignets aren't worth it. Wish we'd ordered the cornbread.

            1. re: lintygmom

              Yeah, they've changed the beignets - did you have them when it was just a few large beignets to an order, with a few shards of Scharffenberger chocolate to stuff in the middle, and rasberry coulis for dipping? I loved those. The were perfect, hot, greaseless. But the last time I went, they were making mini beignets, piled into a frites cone. They were kind of undercooked to begin with, and then the ones on the bottom sort of steamed from the heat of the ones above. And there was no chocolate.

              1. re: daveena

                And they were tough. At $6, a rip-off. Sounds like you went in the nick of time to get good ones.

                1. re: daveena

                  Yeah, I've had the beignets at dinner -- the first time were the good ones, and then last time I was there I had those bad tiny tough ones. I don't know why they changed!

            2. I agree 900 Grayson is excellent, and such a nice addition to our neighborhood. I hope they will be open for dinner soon, and that the dinner prices will be reasonable...

              But back to breakfast/brunch. I still like Meal Ticket--especially the grilled trout breakfast. Fanny is nice for a light breakfast, same goes for Caffe 817--perfectly poached eggs, toast with a slight char to it, and a piece of ham along with some delicious coffee. And, I know T-Rex has been panned by many, but I love it for brunch--they do a great duck hash with poached eggs, and I like the house-smoked salmon, generously draped over a disk of rosti potatoes. My husband likes the sausage gravy and biscuits, but its a little too much starch and cream for me. They have some killer eye-openers on the bar menu, and it is a great place to watch a game during football season--especially if you have friends who root for East Coast underdogs.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Leadbelly

                T-Rex does brunch? Oh, I did not know that! I've really liked their dinner, so I might have to try it.

                1. re: Leadbelly

                  Whether they can expand their hours probably depends on whether neighbors or nearby businesses think people coming and going at dinnertime would have a detrimental impact on the residential or industrial character of the neighborhood.

                  See subsection F of this section of the Berkeley zoning code:


                  1. re: Leadbelly

                    Just went to T-Rex for brunch this morning, and I agree that the brunch is great -- I had the duck hash, and it was delicious (my only complaint is that the eggs were poached a little too hard for me, but I've had that issue at other places as well, I think I need to start asking for my eggs lightly poached in order to get the eggs runny), and my companion had the scrambled eggs with bacon and fried oysters, and wow, their bacon is excellent. The Bloody Mary was also fantastic.

                  2. We love the food at 900 Grayson. The staff blow hot and cold, depending on what day it is. Unfortunatley, they are limiting their presentation. Breakfast was served on weekdays until 11, then you had to order by 10:30, now 10;15 seems to be the cutoof time. They say they need time to switch over the kitchen to lunch service, when they are slammed, but that leaves an hour of just coffee and pastries. Rushed around yesterday, made the cutoff, had excellent food. Otherwise, we have been denied 3 times in the last month, so we have stopped trying.

                    1. No one's reported on brunch at Cocina Pobalno yet .. just down the street from 900 Grayson

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Thanks for the link... anyone tried it yet? I'm curious if its at all any good. Kinda scared me that the Emeryville location took sooooooo long to open.

                          1. re: chemchef

                            Yeah. It is good. My post above Robert's has a link to my report and comments from others.

                      1. Not mentioned yet in this post - I've enjoyed Cock-a-Doodle in downtown Oakland many times. Generous portions with a Mexican flavor.

                        Can I just mention how DH and I still lament the passing of Autumn Moon. I loved their brunch!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: oaklandfoodie

                          We love the chile rellenos that Cock-a-Doodle serves on the weekends, and the pumpkin pancakes they had recently were yummy, too.

                        2. Inn Kensington is good. But it's not in Berkeley/Oakland. I like the fact that the same family has run it for years.

                          Homemade Cafe on the corner of Sacramento and Dwight is always packed. I was there years ago. Has anyone been recently?

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: Glencora

                            I live on Dwight not too far from the Homemade Cafe. My husband and I go there relatively frequently. They have good, homestyle, no frills food. Worth mentioning, are their waffles. They are the best either of us have ever had. Whole wheat, cinnamon and pecans, with real maple syrup (you have to request it, but its worth it). Sometimes the service is a little off, but so far its been good more than its been bad, so it hasn't deterred us from going back.

                            1. re: chemchef

                              Homemade Cafe was always my favorite breakfast joint when I lived in Berkeley. Love their pecan waffles with the pecans cooked inside for less than $5.

                              Other good spots: Meal Ticket for cornmeal pancakes with pears served on top and Cafe Durant (a student dive a block from campus) for white chocolate pancakes.

                              1. re: katya

                                Oh yeah... I've never been to Cafe Durant, but Meal Ticket rocks!

                                1. re: katya

                                  Oh wow. I've been looking for pecan waffles with the pecans inside for more than 10 years (since I had some killer ones in Charleston, SC).

                              2. re: Glencora

                                Homemade Cafe has the best coffee of any of my regular breakfast joints: it's
                                tasty, strong, and you can drink all you want (though they make you get up and
                                serve yourself seconds).

                                It's surprising in this coffee-conscious area how many places try to get away
                                with serving crap coffee. I'm not talking about froofy "espresso drinks", anyone can
                                do that; I mean a regular cup o' joe. At least Rick and Anne's recognises their
                                failure and doesn't complain if you bring in a cup from Peets next door.

                                And man, Jimmy Beans! They've got "beans" in their name so you'd think they'd
                                make decent coffee. But you'd be wrong. It's translucent! And just to prove it they
                                serve it in a clear glass mug. I asked the manager about it one particularly
                                clear-coffee'd morning and he tried to tell me that it only looked like tea because
                                it was in a clear mug. I said no it doesn't look like tea because tea is actually much
                                browner and he just glared at me. Otherwise I like Jimmy Beans but my advice is to
                                tank up at Peets on 4th beforehand and then go.

                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                  Second on the Good Coffee list is Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe. Not in either Oakland
                                  or Berkeley, but right between in Emeryville. They brew Peet's like Peet brews Peet's.
                                  Which isn't too surprising since they're right across the street from Peet's headquarters
                                  and I don't doubt an employee or two eats there every once in a while.

                                  And on the froofy "espresso drinks" front, Rudy may have the local winner with their
                                  fabulous "Shakin' Jesse": Guiness, chocolate ice cream, and a big shot of espresso.
                                  Breakfast of champions, or rock stars, or something.

                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                    Oh, this is so one of my pet peeves. I was just about to post about why so many breakfast places serve seriously God awful coffee. I have yet to have good coffee at a breakfast place, except for the few that have started doing the french press at your table thing (and that's usually only dinner places that have Sunday Brunch like Farmer Brown). It drives me crazy.

                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                      Well since you asked ... :)

                                      The third place to get a decent bit of food with great coffee in the east bay
                                      is Cole Coffee at 63rd and College across from the Safeway in Rockridge.

                                      Breakfast is limited to morning buns from La Farine and poached eggs on toast,
                                      but they're real good eggs. And seating is almost entirely outdoors, so it's a very
                                      weather-dependent place. Nonetheless, the coffee, individually cone-filtered or
                                      french-pressed from your choice of mostly organic, fair trade-y varieties, is
                                      very, very good.

                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                        I think this used to be 'royal grounds', or another name, but I'm glad of the new name - it's not confusing - there were others of the same name.

                                        Yes, very good, but ordering is not for the faint of heart. There's a list of 20-ish coffees, basically their whole-bean list, with colombian and aged moka and ... and ... then you have to pick one. They grind and brew right then, all drip, as Chuckles says. I imagine it's great if you live nearby, and can develop favorites.

                                        OTOH, I'm not sure I can't do better myself - I grind and pour when I make at home, too. Now that I'm buying my beans by the 1/2lb (thus have the fresh stuff at home), and switched to a good burr grinder, coffee's good at home.

                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                          Actually, it used to be "Royal coffee", which of course everyone confused with a different group of shops called Royal Grounds...

                                          As for breakfast places, I used to like Rick & Ann's, but haven't been in over a year since the wait on weekends is so long.

                                          Montclair Egg shop is good, fast service, great crepes. We have a young child, so fast is good. Coffee is pretty good. No pancakes for our son, but the waffle is good. Skip the french toast.

                                          Went to Diggery Cafe (on Park St) just this weekend. Won't go back. Service was good, but the coffee was bitter (like a machine that hasn't been cleaned in a long time). Bacon obviously pre-cooked and soggy. French toast was dry--probably just a quick dunk in the scrambled egg pan.

                                          My wife and I were talking about how many places screw up something as straightforward as breakfast. And they all do it by cutting corners--don't clean the coffee pot, don't use enough coffee in the filter, don't use fresh beans, don't cook your bacon fresh, don't use good bread for french toast, and don't let it soak up the custard mixture.

                                          Anyway, we need to try Blackberry Bistro again. Looked like it opens about 9.

                                          Full House Cafe, on MacArthur and about 38th, has a good diner type breakfast. So-so coffee. Good coffee cake. This is our neighborhood place, but it isn't worth going out of your way for.

                                          1. re: Bryan Gros

                                            Went to Blackberry Bistro last Sunday. Not a long wait, and we enjoyed the food.

                                            As I said above, we have a 2 year old son. I don't think it is worth it for a kid. They don't have pancakes at all. The french toast was very good, thick and custardy. We got the roasted bananas on the side, which was good because my son didn't want them and also because the carmelized sauce was heavy. But dipping the french toast in the sauce was great, including the grand marnier flavor.

                                            My wife got the fritata, which totally seemed like scrambled eggs with spinach and bacon. Good, but not a fritata.

                                            I got the "down south" which turned out to be two eggs, grits, bacon, home fries and a biscuit. All done well, but not worth $12. More like a $7 or $8 item at most places.

                                            Anyway, I'd go back if it was just my wife and I, but won't be taking the kid.

                                    2. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                      I'll agree with your peeve in general --- my strategy is: at some places, where the "house drip" is awful, order an americano.

                                      Thus, sometimes, a long pause while ordering ---- consider the ambiance, the crowd, the size of the cups, the time of day, the brewing apparatus, the array of coffee condiments --- "large coffee" or Americano? Or a drip, add shot?

                                      All of the should be unnecessary - especially at a place like Jimmy Beans, which has tasty food.

                                  2. I absolutely love 900 Grayson. We don't normally eat breakfast out on Saturdays, but our schedule has completely changed to accomodate weekly trips. That Demon Lover is particularly good hangover food, although this weekend the burger did the trick.

                                    Here's my two cents on some other places:
                                    Blackberry Bistro -- was our regular spot, but I am nervous about the sale and haven't been by there in a while.
                                    Somerset -- a good find, but would prefer if the ingredients were sourced better.
                                    Full House Cafe -- the B&G are made with smoked chicken, which gives them a compelling sour taste. Not a reason to travel across town, but I like it.
                                    Rick & Anne's -- just too long of a wait, although the pancakes are excellent.
                                    Homemade Cafe -- long wait too, but that homefry heavy is a great hangover cure. If they have the pecan coconut coffeecake, get it.
                                    Montclair Egg Shop -- quick and okay

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: The Dive

                                      I like the food at 900 Grayson, but I think the prices are too high.

                                      We usually end up at Gillman Grill on....wait for it......Gillman Street! It's below San Pablo a couple of blocks up from the railroad tracks. Good spicy turkey sausage and eggs. Their potatoes are chunks with crispy bits. Nothing fabulous, but we find ourselves going there 3 out of 4 times we go to breakfast. Does anybody know if it's still good?

                                      Used to love Cafe 817's breakfast best of any I've ever had, but got out of the habit of going there. Great coffee and small, but terrific, breakfast selections.

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        Gilman Grill is as good and pleasant as ever - corned beef hash, lamb burger, GG potatoes, etc.

                                    2. After a fantastic brunch last Sunday, I think Hidden City Cafe in Pt Richmond is near the top of the list:


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. We havent been doing brunch lately but last we did, Blackberry was our favorite. Im really bummed to hear about the sale because one of the great things about it was the connection to the local community. Sigh.

                                        From time to time, I like Tropix on Piedmont Avenue - the Huevos Verdes is excellent

                                        1. Adding to this topic to share that as of today, Sea Salt is now open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10-3. The menu looks good (if a little on the pricey side): http://seasaltrestaurant.com/menu/bru...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                            Ohhh ...

                                            suisse chocolat 3.5
                                            zeppoles with honey and powdered sugar 5

                                            Thanks for the info,

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Just got home from a delicious brunch at Stella Nonna - Bananas Foster french toast. Mmm.

                                            2. I went to Doyle St Cafe about a month ago for the first time with a couple of people and everything we had was excellent. It's nestled in an out of the way corner but seems like plenty of folks have discovered as the place was packed.

                                              1. I like Luka's on Sunday afternoons. It's the one time I know it won't be painfully loud. Officially they switch from the brunch menu to the mid-day menu at 2:30, but I saw people getting brunch dishes at 4:00. I've also ordered the regular burger during brunch hours. Bottles of wine are half price all day.

                                                18 Replies
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  I'm curious whether you realize you are replying to yourself in this thread.

                                                  Do you still like 900 Grayson as much as you apparently did 7 years ago?

                                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                                    Replying although you didn't ask me - 900 Grayson is not as interesting as it was once; my recommendations for brunch in East Bay currently are either Camino or A16 Rockridge, or if chicken and waffles is what you're seeking, Brown Sugar Kitchen.

                                                    In your 2.5 mile SF wanders, breakfast and lunch items at Cafe Terminus are worth a try.

                                                    1. re: foodeye

                                                      I agree. 900 Grayson used to be a common spot for us, but we haven't been in years. Now, if brunch is necessary, it is Camino and Brown Sugar Kitchen.

                                                      1. re: The Dive

                                                        Camino's brunch menu is interesting and different. Who else serves lardy cake?

                                                          1. re: BacoMan

                                                            Camino's was kind of like puff pastry, only made with lard instead of butter.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              Is it actually called lardy cake on the menu? I don't see it on there.

                                                      2. re: foodeye

                                                        Is there a similar crawl of places worth doing in Oakland to a crawl through SF's Mission?

                                                        Terminus looks super simple. Do they sprinkle their stuff with crack, or what is the big deal everyone is making about them?

                                                        1. re: BacoMan

                                                          Um, sort of, but not obviously and easily.

                                                          Often the tacos of Fruitvale are recommended. Search for taco crawl fruitvale. For a southern californian, this might not be so much the thing.

                                                          There are a lot of little spots. Jack London Square has one bar that's worth a trip, Heinold's First and Last, and there's urban wineries and a blue bottle coffee, and some good beer at the trappist. Then there's the Uptown area which has some cool spots (20 blocks away). And there's chinatown, which is pretty small and doesn't have any stunning standouts. Temescal district is also up and coming and I love some of the restaurants there, but there's only a few afternoon hangouts - and it's 30 blocks from Uptown to Temescal. Then there's Grand Lake district, Piedmont district (Lush!), the Ethiopian places on Telegraph, berkeley campus is a fun walk but there's very little good food (campus junk, pleasant cafes but not Serious Coffee), the gourmet ghetto (cheesboard!)

                                                          I could go on, but it's just sort of all like that. I love the east bay, it's very low key, can be pretty intense, but it's very spread out. If you went DIRECTLY from Heinold's to Cheeseboard, shortest path walk, that's 6 miles, most of it unpleasant.

                                                          If there was an urban bike system (like montreal!), you could certainly have some fun - or maybe investing in a bike rental for the day, get one in SF and take the ferry over and the BART back. But walking ... doable but not so obvious. With public transit it would require a lot of dedication.

                                                          Hey, is Local 123 still good for coffee? I really don't get over to the east bay as much as I should. That place was really an eye-opener when it first opened. Looks like they're doing more roasting than brewing other's roasts.

                                                          1. re: BacoMan

                                                            As bbulkow notes, Oakland is spread out.

                                                            There's a bike rental place at Jack London Square. A beer crawl on bikes would make sense: Trappist, Beer Revolution, Brotzeit, Linden Street, Hog's Apothecary, Commonwealth Pub, Luka's ...

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                Is Make Westing any good?

                                                                That popcorn looks pretty interesting. Can you stop in and get the popcorn in a bag to go?

                                                                1. re: BacoMan

                                                                  Make Westing makes some nice cocktails and the popcorn is a good "drinks" snack, but not worth a stop on its own. It is pre-popped with flavors added. Tasty, sure, but not special. The place can be crowded -- I like to go at 4 p.m. Not a bad place if you hitting a few Oakland bars, but nothing to go out of your way for.

                                                                  1. re: The Dive

                                                                    What are the places to go out of your way for in Oakland?

                                                                    1. re: BacoMan

                                                                      Right now, probably:

                                                                      Beer: Trappist, Beer Revolution, Hog's Apothecary (food less so)

                                                                      Food: Ramen Shop, Plum

                                                                      Cocktails (but good food items too): Plum Bar, Adesso

                                                                      I feel that we are in pizza overkill mode and have been avoiding them, but Pizzaiola, Boot & Shoe, Dopo and A16 have great pies.

                                                          2. re: BacoMan

                                                            I haven't been to Grayson in ages. It's not a kind of meal I crave very often and when I do I can make it at home.

                                                            I don't think of updating a topic with new recommendations as replying to myself. That's just a label on a button.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              I agree. 900 Grayson was great when it opened, and it is still great, but I am so bored that they haven't really changed the menu at all in years.