Long-gone are the days when an early brunch spot was one that opened at 11 a.m. When you are on the tot clock, the earlier the better for brunch. Start your day at one of these local breakfasts that offer kid-friendly favorites like pancakes, waffles and scrambled eggs as soon as the sun is up.
The Ferry Building Marketplace
Early birds know that the Ferry Building is full of breakfast options for early risers. With gorgeous views of the Bay and a playground right across the street, it’s a no-brainer breakfast spot when you have the kids in tow. Here are a bunch of our early morning faves:
Brown Sugar Kitchen
The newest addition to the Ferry Building Marketplace, Brown Sugar Kitchen is the vision of Chef Tanya Holland, who opened the restaurant’s original location in Oakland in 2008. Holland’s cooking is influenced by her family’s Southern roots as well as her formal training at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in France. Breakfast offerings include beignets, a breakfast sandwich, grits and eggs and homemade granola with seasonal fruit and yogurt.
Open Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Tues.-Fri. 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Mariposa Baking Company
Mariposa Baking Company creates gluten-free baked goods using quality ingredients, and organic whenever they can, such as fragrant orange oil, elegant chocolate, locally grown walnuts, fine Italian roasted espresso, sparkling crystals of organic unrefined cane sugar, tender organic brown rice flour, fresh eggs, and grade AA creamery butter. Breakfast items include fresh-baked bagels, muffins, breakfast sandwiches, and more.
Open Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
photo: Biscuit Bender
Every weekend, Biscuit Bender owner Van Dao offers a unique variety of homemade buttermilk biscuits–from sweet (peanut butter chocolate chip, lemon poppy seed, Mexican hot chocolate) to savory (wild mushroom, bacon maple, corn jalapeno). Biscuit accompaniments are also available, including flavored butters and jams.
Open Sat.-Sun. 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
MarketBar is a full-service restaurant that offering a seasonal menu inspired by the fresh ingredients sold at the Ferry Building Marketplace and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and also serves breakfast on the weekends. The wide sidewalk in front of the restaurant is lined with cafe tables where patrons can drink, graze, dine, and people watch from one of the most charming and lively vantage points in the city.
Open Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
photo: Nina H. via yelp
Founded in 2006 by local musician and activist Josh Levine, Donut Farm produces a range of handcrafted vegan and organic donuts, making it the perfect stop for a guilt-free treat. Donut Farm is dedicated to minimizing its footprint, meticulously selecting local and sustainably produced ingredients beyond a standard most any other donut shop can claim.
Open everyday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
photo: Kate Loweth
If you’ve never taken a ride across the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island then make plans to head to MerSea ASAP. This spot opened its shipping container restaurant doors in early 2018 and it’s the perfect spot for families to spend the day. There’s ample outdoor seating and also tables inside the shipping containers. Not only do they open every day at 9 a.m. (can I get a “hooray!” for that?) but there are tons of kid distractions that will make you want to hang around for more than just a meal. Set the kids up with some clubs on the putt putt course or opt for some family bocce ball while you enjoy a killer Bloody Mary. Kids will love the French toast and root beer floats while adult favorites include the chorizo scramble and MerSea’s take on eggs benedict with Dungeness crab and citrus aioli. The views of the SF skyline can’t be beat and there’s even a fun playground and walking path right across the street for post-meal fun.
699 Avenue of the Palms
Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA
Open Sat.-Sun. from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Get to this Mission favorite early to avoid crowds. No need to distract the kids until the food arrives here—artwork and colorful mosaics cover all the walls. This is also a great choice if you are a vegan or vegetarian (the Soyrizo-N-Eggs is amazing!).
3296 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA
Open everyday from 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
photo: Stephanie F. via yelp
Fast service and organic ingredients are the name of the game at this Lower Pacific Heights eatery that’s known for its spicy and sweet Millionaire’s Bacon. Kids will love the pancake with choice of bacon, pork-lime sausage or a chicken mango sausage. Parents will love the bottomless mimosas or the double kick of the espresso martini.
2102 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA
Open everyday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
This spot wins for best views hands down and is also open at 9 a.m. to get your day started right. You can’t go wrong with the chalet beignets or the baked French toast. Savory fans gravitate to the corned beef hash. You can often find live music here and it’s a great spot to kick off a day exploring Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco, CA
Open at 9 a.m. everyday
Photo: Vanessa Z. on Yelp
Sam’s Log Cabin
What kid wouldn’t want to eat in a quaint little log cabin? While the location is historic (the cabin has been there since the 1930), the food is modern and there are many organic options. Standouts here include the Cinnamon Currant French Toast and Biscuits and Gravy. Also popular on the breakfast menu are Pork Braised Collard Greens White Corn grits and House-Made Scones.
Tip: If you happen to be there on a sunny morning, grab a seat in the great back patio area.
945 San Pablo Ave.
Saturday and Sunday hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
photo: Frances T. via Yelp
This spacious, airy establishment is right in the heart of the Fourth Street shopping area. It’s a great place to stop and fuel up on California style cuisine before hitting the shops with the kids (Jeffrey’s Toys is just down the block). Great items to try include Cinnamon Stuffed French Toast (complete with mascarpone filling and banana compote), Aztec Huevos Rancheros and Grapefruit Mimosas.
Tip: If there is a wait, Café M can text you when your table is ready.
1799 Fourth St., #F
Open everyday at 8 a.m.
This diner-style eatery has been serving early morning love since 1973. Try the pumpkin waffles or hook the kids up with the kiddie-sized challah french toast. They have plenty of high chairs and stroller parking to accommodate all the families that come.
Tip: Get there before 9 a.m. to avoid the crowds.
5492 College Ave.
Open everyday 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
photo: Eden, Janine and Jim via flickr
This perennial Peninsula favorite packs in families for brunch and with good reason—their crepes are a treat both parents and kids will love. The menu is extensive but a favorite is the Burlingame Sweet Crepe made with strawberries, caramelized bananas, Nutella and chocolate sauce—can you really eat this for breakfast? Note: Crepevine has several locations throughout the Bay Area, there’s probably one near you, ready to serve you shortly after the sun comes up.
1310 Burlingame Ave.
Open everyday at 7:30 am
Apple Fritter is a recent addition to the San Mateo breakfast scene and its traditional American fare is already bringing in the crowds. If you’re hungry, order the Tooth Fairy (three slices of thick egg bread dipped in house made cinnamon vanilla batter, served with three pieces of bacon and two eggs). There’s also plenty of tyke friendly food. The star of this place is the donuts. The Bacon Maple Bar rivals Voo Doo Donuts in Portland.
1901 South Norfolk
San Mateo, CA
Open Sat.-Sun. 7:30 a.m.–2:45 p.m., Mon.-Fri. 6:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m.
Millbrae Pancake House
The Millbrae Pancake House has been an institution since 1959. Walking in you’ll notice the vintage wallpaper, the old-fashioned booths and the classic surrounding décor. It’s so old-school that it’s hip again. The food is good, the service is fast and the Smiley Face pancakes are a hit with the kids. Bonus: there’s breakfast all day here!
1301 El Camino Real
Open everyday from 6:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
photo: Apple Fritter’s Facebook page
Stacks’ menu is large and varied in the classic American breakfast tradition and the pancakes are ridiculously good here. They also have great ‘Breakfast Basics’ options where you can customize your eggs, potatoes and bagel to include whatever you like—perfect for picky kiddos. Two great things about Stacks are its quick service and the fact that if you order a cup of coffee, they bring you an entire carafe full!
Good to know: If you encounter a wait here on a Sunday, put your name in and then stroll through the nearby Campbell farmer’s market.
139 E Campbell Ave.
Saturday and Sunday hours: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Uncle John’s Pancake House
Just off the main drag, this spot offers breakfast and lunch to hungry families every day of the week. Try the Swedish crepes that are topped with lingonberry butter or the truly California crab and avocado benedict for some over-the-top decadence. The dollar sized pancakes are a kid favorite.
2125 S. Winchester Blvd.
Open everyday 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
Since the early 80’s families have dined a Hobee’s for their famous blueberry coffee cake and cinnamon-orange tea. There’s the original location right across from De Anza College in Cupertino as well as five other spots in the South Bay/Peninsula. It has a super laid-back vibe that’s perfect for semi-unruly small diners.
21267 Stevens Creek Blvd. #310
Open Sat.-Sun. at 7:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays
photo: Tiffany D. via Yelp
This is a restaurant to be enjoyed by kids. From the moment you walk in, everything you see will delight them—including a converted VW bus in the dining room. The space is colorful, loud and completely unique. There’s a great kids menu here with lots of options for little ones and an over-the-top hot chocolate. While there’s plenty of seating inside, they also have a great patio in the back with picnic tables.
Tip: You can call ahead to put your name in or to reserve the VW bus! So cool!
5055 Almaden Expressway
San Jose, CA
Open everyday from 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
Los Gatos Cafe
This local cafe is a mainstay on the Los Gatos main drag. It’s a fun, casual and relaxed atmosphere. The menu here is HUGE. Kids even have their own menu where they can pick how they want their pancakes—Mickey Mouse, bunny rabbit or dinosaur style!
340 North Santa Cruz Ave.
Los Gatos, CA
Open everyday 6 a.m.–3 p.m.
photo: R.L. via Yelp
The Half Day Cafe
The Half Day Café is a family run business located in a historic building in Kentfield. This beautiful brick gem dates back all the way to the 1930’s. They have all the brunch options-omelets, pancakes, even Green Eggs and Ham. Don’t forget to check out the weekly specials!
848 College Ave.
Saturday and Sunday hours: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
This cute neighborhood café offers a little bit of everything for breakfast—from fresh Equator coffee to organic produce to the delicious strawberry waffles. The all fruit smoothies are a must try. The Mickey Mouse pancakes here are a hit with the kids!
1900 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Saturday and Sunday brunch hours: 7 a.m.–3 p.m.
photo: Nikki Ritcher Photography
If you haven’t introduced the kids to the divinity that is the Leige waffle, now is the time. Poggio offers these breakfast treats topped with Nutella (everyone’s fave) or maple syrup. Egg lovers can indulge in the frittata for the day to get their fill of veggies.
Open everyday at 6:30 a.m.
Comforts is one of San Anselmo’s beloved eateries. Because it is so popular, you may have to wait for a table on the patio or in the restaurant, but the wait is worth it (and all the better reason to show up at 8). The bunch menu changes weekly and is always filled with healthy and fresh options.
Insider Tip: Don’t leave without checking out the desert cases and grab a cookie to go!
335 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA
Saturday and Sunday hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
—Kate Loweth & Melanie Ulate