I've been to Toast on Church. Not in the Zuni league. Not close. Maybe in the same league as Boogaloo -- the scratching-your-head-wondering-why-anyone-would-line-up-for-such-ordinary-food league. And if those two places can draw such crowds for weekend brunch, I figure the brunch scene is hopelessly overcrowded.
Get a reservation at Foreign Cinema. Its as mellow (or not) as you want it to be.
I had a lovely brunch at the Slow Club today. The Club is a block from my office, and I've had weekday lunch there about 375 times at a guess, but rarely find myself in the neighborhood on a weekend. Today was one of those days, though. and it was really good. I was planning to order the fried egg sandwich which I had the last time I had brunch here a year or so ago ($10.50, egg with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and their excellent aioli on Acme sourdough with home fries) but was tempted by a special. turkey sausage hash. Also $10.50, it was a nicely balanced mixture of the sausage with apples, potatoes, yams, butternut squash, caramelized onions, and arugula, with two textbook-perfect poached eggs and a sprinkling of cheddar. Plus some chunks of Acme bread to sop up the yolks. I thought it was perfectly delicious; some hipsters at the next table evidently found it too bland because they were pouring hot sauce all over it, but to each his or her own.
I was not able to indulge because I had some driving to do, but if someone else were behind the wheel I'd like to make my way through the brunch cocktail menu. It has all my favorites such as Pimms, Lillet, mimosas, and something with gin and soda and citrus that sounded wonderful. I don't care for Bloody Marys myself, but I saw a lot of them coming out from the bar -- well, I could hardly miss them, decorated as they are with enormous sticks of celery.
Busy and noisy, but not unpleasantly so. Groups of more than four are hard to manage without a reservation, since none of the tables accommodate them. There weren't any kids around today, but in the past I've found the staff to be extremely welcoming of babies and kids, although strollers would be better left outside since there really isn't room between tables.
2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Restaurant Lulu during the day is a wide open airy space, making it more casual then at night. Use to be my go to place when I lived in SF. I never waited in a line for brunch ever. You could say the menu is "dated" but for brunch it's really good. Corn on the cob with truffle butter, an eggs benedict thing w/ brioche, and a lot of the regular menu, great roast chicken and pork sandwiches. Plus a full bar.
I always like Slow Club too. Universal Cafe is also very good. They get lines however but if you get there early enough, not such a big deal.
816 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94107
2814 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110