Cure your hangover and crush your hunger with our 15 favorite brunches on the Peninsula — 2018
From churro waffles to steakhouse benedicts, it’s The Six Fifty’s guide to local brunch spots
Brunch requires some know-how. You’re hungover and hangry, and the last thing on your mind is waiting in line for an hour while morning melts into mid-afternoon. Allow us to help you out.
The Peninsula has no shortage of worthwhile brunch spots within the 6–5–0 area code, so we curated a list of staff favorites and industry standouts to help you get fed (and sober) in a timely, delicious manner. Sure, we love the classics and mainstays, but we have a special affinity for the odd balls and creative culinary thinkers. So if you’ve never had Fruity Pebble French toast or a crab frittata, then we would like to introduce you to some of our favorite local spots.
There are no shortage of reasons for loving brunch at this quirky Redwood City eatery. Sure, they’re known for their omelettes, but really, the menu is huge and packed with all sorts of delicious diversity, ranging from the Jack Johnson Banana Walnut Pancakes to the King Crab Benedict. Seriously, we make a point of ordering something different every time: don’t sleep on the Super Food Scramble, the Hangover Helper or their Big Biscuits and Gravy.
Yet Squeeze In has forever endeared us to them via their epic breakfast hangover concoction — The Hail Mary. Sure, we’ve seen bloody marys garnished with bacon and shrimp and all kinds of vegetables, but whichever employee came up with little grilled cheese sandwiches as a garnish really deserves an award.
Squeeze In // 3710 Florence St, Redwood City (650) 361–9500
Apple Fritter Eatery
Not only is the breakfast at this San Mateo restaurant fantastic, but Apple Fritter Eatery might just be the funnest brunch on the Peninsula. We suspect that the menu was at least partially concocted by Willie Wonka himself— Fruity Pebble French Toast, Donut Sandwiches and M & M Pancakes. Or, avoid the sugar shock with their vegetarian Hippie Hash, the chorizo-laden Instagrammable-wich and the meaty Porky Scramble. There are many menu options and we’ve yet to devour one we didn’t love.
Apple Fritter Eatery // 1901 S Norfolk St, San Mateo (650) 525–9125
Where to start? There’s a lot to say about Town’s brunch, but we’ll start where the menu does, with their lengthy list of brunch cocktails, including the P.O.G. Bellini (guava, passionfruit, orange juice and champagne), the Beetlejuice (rye whiskey with fresh beet juice) and the Hat Trick (Patreon Reposado with rhubarb-strawberry compote). Their menu is equally as vibrant as the cocktail selection, with a steakhouse benedict, chicken & waffles and a real deal loco moco dish. There’s even a separate kids brunch menu featuring cookie dough waffles. Yep, go to Town!
Town // 716 Laurel St, San Carlos (650) 595–3003
Downtown Palo Alto Farmer’s Market
It’s summertime, so skip the wait (and the besieged weekend waitstaffs) for brunch at the Saturday morning Downtown Farmer’s Market in Palo Alto, where the food options are as eclectic as they are delicious. Oaxacan Kitchen is our hands-down fave, but don’t sleep on the baked goods over at Manresa Bread (their kouign amans are a must-try) or the healthy bowls from Acu Acai. There’s a lot to offer, so make the rounds, get some fresh air, buy your sweetie some flowers and try something new.
Downtown Palo Alto Farmer’s Market // 601–699 Gilman St, Palo Alto
Yum Cha Palace
With dim sum spots like Koi Palace and Joy Luck Palace holding court in the Bay, Yum Cha Palace (so many palaces) might be a little off the radar. But that’s not to say this little gem of a spot isn’t worth a venture — here you’ll find your dim sum classics like Har Gow and Siu Mai made fresh to order. And their golden lava yolk buns are a must try: a thick, custardy, slightly salted filling practically flows out of its fluffy encasing once you take a bite. And best of all, there are no hour-long wait times at this palace.
Yum Cha Palace // 1039 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (650) 752–6173
Nini’s Coffee Shop
A San Mateo classic with a warm family vibe and classic brunch options (blueberry pancakes, eggs benedict) served up in hefty portions. The Wally’s Special (two eggs over cheese potatoes and your choice of topics) is a mainstay house special, much like the Teriyaki Steak and Eggs. The wait can build up on weekends, so arrive early and with a hearty appetite. It’s no accident that Nini’s has been around for more than half a century, as many stuffed diners will surely attest to on their way out.
Nini’s Coffee Shop // 1000 N Idaho St, San Mateo (650) 348–9578
It just doesn’t get more old school than Duarte’s and while it’s a great place to eat on your weekend excursion to the Coastside, we’re gonna suggest that you catch it during the week, when the local vibe really gives you the true feel of the place. For breakfast we recommend the artichoke omelette or the linguica & eggs. That said, if ever there was a place to start the day with coffee and pie, Duarte’s is the spot. Their olallieberry pie is a local legend and well worth the drive.
Duarte’s Tavern // 202 Stage Rd, Pescadero; (650) 879–0464
Esther’s German Bakery
Sure, you might know Esther’s German Bakery for their authentic, traditionally baked (and not to mention absolutely delicious) German pretzels and breads, but did you know that their brunch spreads are just as fantastic? On days where we’re craving something sweet, there’s nothing better than their fluffy and crisp apple pancakes also known as Pfannkuchen. On savory days, you can’t go wrong with the Bavarian Breakfast, which features their Weisswurst poached sausages with a pretzel and sweet mustard.
Ester’s German Bakery // 987 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos (650) 941–4463
If high-end coffee is essential to your brunch fix, let us point you towards the recently-opened coffee bar in Menlo Park, which turns out high end caffeination with masterful ease. Even better, they also have a knack for small-plate breakfast fare, ranging from freshly baked pastries (we love their croissants) to heartier options like banana toast. With a slick interior and lively cafe crowd, Coffeebar is a nice change of pace to restaurants with long waits and sub-par java.
Coffeebar // 1149 Chestnut St, Menlo Park; (650)666–2626
For a from-scratch brunch that highlights the Bay Area’s best local artisan products, you’ll want to catch family-owned restaurant Johnston’s Saltbox on an early Saturday or Sunday morning. If we had to pick one dish, their early summer tartine shows off what Saltbox does best: poached eggs (farm fresh, of course), smashed avocado, braised corn and pickled asparagus come together in the most perfect harmony, with guajillo sauce and cotija cheese adding a snappy, finishing kick.
Johnston’s Saltbox // 1696 Laurel St, San Carlos (650) 592–7258
We love Alice’s, and, I mean…doesn’t everybody? In addition to the well-made locally sourced menu, there’s just something special about that location, as evidenced by the very (very) large crowds that gather there on weekends. As we’ve said before, we’re big fans of the Redneck Breakfast (bacon, homemade biscuit, poached eggs and country gravy), but the banana bread French toast and the Potato Benedict are fantastic dishes, as well. Alice’s has a lot of options when it comes to Hair of the Dog, so take your time (or designate a driver) and have a drink among the Redwoods.
Alice’s Restaurant // 17288 Skyline Blvd, Woodside; (650) 851–0303
Mints & Honey
Hop on over on a weekday morning to Mints & Honey and treat yourself to the cutest toast and tea pairings in a cheery cafe atmosphere. From lusciously layered tomato and ricotta toasts to delectably fluffy churro waffles to the most creamy and refreshing lavender iced milk teas, you really can’t go wrong with any of their simple yet indulgent offerings. But don’t mistake their all-too-Instagrammable brunch spreads for a meal that’s all looks and no substance — we promise they’ll surprise you with maximum flavor and deliciousness.
Mints and Honey // 1524 El Camino Real, San Carlos (650) 339–7308
A hearty, stuff-your-face-until-you-burst kind of brunch is definitely on our list for one of the most wonderfully amazing feelings in the world. But sometimes brunch calls for a lighter affair, and when that’s the case, Caffe Central dishes out some of the best health-loaded puff pastry tartines and avocado toasts. And with their locally micro-roasted coffee beans that are brewed using single drip pour-over technique, this is a brunch you should definitely pair with caffeine.
Caffe Central // 1380 Burlingame Ave, Burlingame (650) 315–2511
Palo Alto Creamery
Like many of you, we’ve gone to Palo Alto Creamery for years and still feel at home within their old school interior and easy diner vibe. It has all the brunch classics that you would expect — steak & eggs, Belgian waffles, Huevos Rancheros — with a fair share of twists to lively up your meal (namely, the Cajun Scramble, which has become our go-to of late). The Creamery has been around for ages (circa 1923) and we fully intend to still be ordering their Caribbean French Toast and milkshakes for many years to come. So grab a both (or a stool) and settle in to a Palo Alto classic.
Palo Alto Creamery // 566 Emerson St, Palo Alto (650) 323–3131
You don’t have to be a local (or a pilot for that matter) to enjoy this low-key breakfast mecca at the Half Moon Bay airport along Highway 1. A perennial go-to spot on the Coastside for decades, 3-Zero has a classic diner vibe beneath its aviation-themed interior where owner Mark Smith races between tables constantly refilling hot coffee and telling Rodney Dangerfield jokes. It’s a fun spot for kids and adults alike (with corresponding menus to match). We usually choose between the crab cake benedict and the Pilot’s Plate (a hefty medley of eggs, sausage, artichoke hearts and other veggies), but it’s a big menu so give it a long look and find whatever dish will bring your appetite in for a smooth landing.
3-Zero Cafe // 9850 Cabrillo Hwy, Moss Beach; (650)728–1411
Stay up to date with other coverage from The Six Fifty by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, featuring event listings, reviews and articles showcasing the best that the Peninsula has to offer. Sign up here!