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Saturday Brunch West Portal?

We are going to the Empire Theater on West Portal to see "Milk". We'd like a nice, interesting, not too expensive meal in the area before. Any ideas?
We like most cuisines, but we don't eat beef.

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  1. I've been to Cafe for All Seasons many times and love it.

    1. Squat and Gobble is probably the best brunch in West Portal right now.
      I got talked into going there recently, and they've stepped up their game and improved the food, at least for brunches.

      Village Grill is another option. It's more diner like, but I like their pancakes.
      Also, relatively nearby is Chou Chou around the corner from Forest Hill Station. It's been a while, and I think their dinners aren't what they used to be, but the brunches are good.

      I'd stay clear of Cafe for all Seasons, especially at brunch.
      Neither food nor service are all that good anymore, and the place gets really noisy and unpleasant. I can't see the appeal unless you're looking to relive a meal you had there in 1984 (pasta in chicken stock, served on glass..... romaine salad with clumps of grated cheddar cheese on top....) and there's often a wait to get seated.

      1. They don't have a brunch menu, nor do they do breakfast, but if you're not specifically looking for a traditional brunch, Fresca is quite good. They open at 11:00

        Fresca Restaurant
        24 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127

        1. I can walk to West Portal, have eaten at pretty much every restaurant there, and highly recommend having brunch in The Mission on your way to the movie theater in West Portal.

          I have found the food at Cafe for All Seasons to be only slightly better than Denny's, and, like sugartoof, recommend eating anywhere else.

          If you are driving over, much of the parking is metered and one hour, or unmetered and one or two hours, park on Santa Clara in St. Francis Wood for unlimited parking on Saturday.

          5 Replies
          1. re: realspear

            Thanks everyone for your help. Especially where to park!
            Actually, we are coming into the city from San Mateo, up 280, so the Mission isn't on the way. Any ideas for other good places "on the way"?

            1. re: Kim Cooper

              Koi Palace is on the way as you come up 280, if you like dim sum. I would think about coming up on 101 and going to the Slow Club or the Hard Knox and then heading over, it's not that far. That's what I would do.

              1. re: realspear

                I think Koi Palace is *not * a good pre-movie choice...last time I went was before a movie, and even though we got there very, very early (ie when they opened) we ended up having to rush to make a show sheduled to start several hours later, becuase it was soooo slow, with very long waits between items ordered off the menu and nothing good coming anywhere within shouting distance on the carts and trays. (not to mention the fact that our table was hemmed in in a way that made it tough to try and go intercept those carts.)

                Sexy Soup Cart
                San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

              2. re: Kim Cooper

                Kim, there's nothing I can recommend in good conscience in the West Portal area for brunch. One marginally acceptable venue is Squat and Gobble.

                If 'sit down' is not a must, there is always Roxie's Deli with brilliant sandwiches on San Jose Ave.

                BTW you can also park in Forest Hill - a few blocks away and no restrictions on Saturday.

                1. re: Kim Cooper

                  I agree that Koi Palace takes forever, so not a good choice on the way to a movie. What about going 280 to 19th Ave and hitting a place in the Sunset? I like the noodles at the PPQ noodle place at 19th and Irving, the shrimp dumpling noodle soup at Ming Tai, flat bread pizza or pastries at Arzimendi, dim sum at various places, Lime Tree, etc. There's also Chow which many people like but I find kind of boring.

                  I haven't been to the Fresca in W.P. but have liked food well enough at the Noe branch. It can be a little pricey though.

              3. I appreciate the advice on Cafe for All Seasons. We don't live in SF any more and visit occasionally. Haven't been there recently. Also we never have trouble parking. Just get off the main drag by a block or two. Again, I guess that's old data :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: c oliver

                  Cafe for all Seasons has been good off and on, but I think it's just survived because of the location.

                2. Cafe for All Seasons has been pretty bad since the original owners sold out. Squat & Gobble's crepes are mediocre at best. I think the best bet for brunch is Raintree. In Glen Park, I love the crepes at Higher Grounds and Tyger's Coffee Shop is still good under new ownershipp.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: SunsetKid

                    Are you sure the original owners sold? I thought they just stopped caring , stopped showing up to work the place, and focused on another location instead. Don't know if that other location even still exists but there's one or two staff still there from the 80's.

                    Squat & Gobbles french toast and eggs benedict are really good these days. I wouldn't believe it either had I not tasted it.

                    Higher Grounds and Tyger's are great suggestions too, but parking isn't great and Higher Grounds can be verrrry slow on weekends. Still manageable.

                  2. While not exactly a "brunch" place, if Squat and Gobble is mentioned, why not mention Manor Coffee House, an old school diner. It gets good reviews for what it is. Breakfast is good in a standard American way. Think of it this way, the food would be very SF circa 1978. In fact, who knows, perhaps Harvey Milk ate here, it was around then.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ML8000

                      Probably not Harvey Milk (though who knows!?), but another controversial Supervisor of that era, John Barbagelata had his Real Estate office right across the street. Milk was actually known to haunt North Beach instead.

                      Manor is amazing as a mid-century time capsule, but the food is a little scary. Village Grill would be the better diner. Manor was sold to an Asian family who are working the place every day, and sticking to the same menu, but the results can be strange to say the least. I think it's gone down hill since they initially took it over, when it was rather good. Still possible to get a good breakfast I'm sure, but the place is a ghost town these days, with a very elderly clientele who mostly order cottage cheese with an english muffin.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        funny! Manor is very old school! It's my husband's guilty pleasure I think (from midwest). Hash browns aren't greasy, I like the corned beef hash, for that type. (They make it themselves) and ok is good. When we go on the weekends it's definitely full with all kinds of ages, including families with kids 20somethings reading or writing solo at the counter. The waitresses uniforms are from the tv show Alice. Very nice people who work there.

                        1. re: rln

                          good to hear. i love that it's there.

                          1. re: rln

                            rln -- I have to say that Manor is my guilty pleasure as well before a movie in West Portal. I like their slaw and I like their fried shrimp -- it appeals to me in the same way a Sonic Drive-In appeals to me. The shrimp are just frozen, breaded shrimp -- but I crave them a couple of times a year. The slaw, is actually very good -- not swimming in mayonnaise -- but lightly dressed and crunchy. More than a few barbecue places in SF (and elsewhere) could stand to learn that particular lesson.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Thank you for asking. We ended up at Squat and Gobble. It was a bit strange, but the food was good. They lost our order so it took a while. We never completely understood the system. It is the sort of place you have to go with someone experienced, or go again once you have some idea what happened.
                          But the food was good.