Breakfast in San Francisco

Just got back from a very, very laid back holiday in San Francisco. My favorite city. I hate saying that, because it might exclude many places I hold dear. I have been to the most amazing cities in the world, but San Francisco got my heart when I was younger and it still grows with me every time I return. Anyhow, if you are a friend from SF, please don’t be offended that I didn’t call. We barely left the house.

The sum of this vacation consisted of watching the Olympics, reading books and playing tug of war with our four-month-old puppy. It was the most glorious, passive vacation ever. The only decisions we had to make were where to do the thing we love most about San Francisco: BREAKFAST.

Pork Store Huevos Rancheros

You might be wondering what the heck that gooey mess above is; it’s huevos rancheros. My latest breakfast obsession. The best thing about traveling is breakfast. You get up, slowly, anytime you want, and decide you must have breakfast. Most cities are not so accommodating. In America, there is the occasional all-day-breakfast diner in any given town or city. London often has these types too, where you can get a good ole’ hot fry up at any time of the day. (Oh, how I love you, full English breakfast!) My hometown Austin is notorious for being a lazy-day breakfast town, and for people getting up late and desperately needing pancakes, but weekdays you surprisingly have to hunt it down after noon. And usually it is a diner or Tex-Mex sorta breakfast.

San Francisco is another story. 8 a.m. Noon. 4 p.m. Somewhere in any given neighborhood, there is a breakfast menu waiting for you, and as many styles as you want. You might want a classy eggs benedict over a glossy black table at some downtown chic restaurant. You can get this after 1 p.m. Or you want one of the infamous breakfast crepes in one of the cities many charming crepe cafes, and served usually with a pile of those savory rosemary garlic potatoes. Or you decide you want the health route, some fresh California yogurt with homemade granola and strawberries. Or perhaps you want a big platter of a good old greasy spoon breakfast. Whatever way you want it; there are haute and blue collar versions of corned beef hash. I had all of these cravings and didn’t have to go far to fill them.

Here’s the thing I love about San Francisco food. It has the full gamut of American cultural taste buds. It has the western influence. You can get Huevos Rancheros just about anywhere, just as you can in Austin, but SF has so many more east-coasters who are definitely not living without their bagels and lox. Corned beef hash is everywhere, usually a northern, east-coast food. You can get a real plate of homemade biscuits and gravy, southern style (there IS a difference between northern and southern biscuits, believe me).

My first choice, though is always a crepe breakfast. They’re just so darn good.

My husband’s favorite is eggs benedict. Many SF restaurants also serve multiple types of eggs benedict, like Eggs Blackstone (tomato and bacon) and a delicious benedict with crab cakes and sometimes sourdough instead of English muffins.

Then there is the Pork Store, which is pretty much a classic diner institution in Haight Ashbury and my husband forced me to eat at the counter, because ‘that’s what you do’. And though I wasn’t hungry I ordered up a plate of huevos rancheros. I’m on a research mission to find all the different ways these are served because they’ve become my favorite Texas breakfast. That was the mushy pile of food in my first photo. I have to say that Pork Store does it the way I think it should be: eggs, cheese, tortilla, beans and sauce all running over and into each other. Some places leave out the beans, some just put chunky tomatoes rather than sauce. Some places are just eggs, tortilla and sauce.

Lest we leave without squeezing in one more breakfast, we tried to get up early the day of our flight so we could make it out to a cafe. No such luck, so we drove out of the city with empty stomachs. Arriving at the airport at 12:30, we thought maybe we’ll get lucky. We’ve never found an airport serving hot breakfast so late. But whaddya know, right next to our gate was the satellite Cafe, famous for its wharf breakfasts with big letters: BREAKFAST ALL DAY. Whoo-hoo! San Francisco, you do us right. And what a huge menu it was. We filled up on shrimp omelets and big crusty sourdough toasts and even treated ourselves to a classic shrimp cocktail. Yeah, that’s a lot of shrimp but where else in the world can you feel like you’re sitting by a wharf eating breakfast after morning in a crowded airport?