Best Brunch Spots in the Bay Area: Where to Go for Mother’s Day in Marin and Beyond

There is no time like the present to celebrate spring and our collective emergence from never-ending pandemic lockdowns. Get out there (safely, of course) and eat, support NorCal restaurants and honor Mom and anyone else who made it through winter to breathe in the fresh air of the season. Santé!

Marin

Hopmonk Tavern

Hopmonk Tavern Brunch in Bay area, eggs, french toast, bacon

Fresh, small-batch domestic and international beers in a sun-splashed outdoor beer garden tucked into Novato’s Vintage Oaks Shopping Center is just part of the appeal of this well-loved brewery. Hang out for a stretch and savor live music under the shade of those famous oaks while enjoying Billionaire’s Bacon, the Frenchest Toast (it’s deep-fried), or a classic Reuben, perfect with a pint.

Magnolia Park Kitchen

Magnolia Park Kitchen

If you cannot (or will not) celebrate the mother figure in your life on Mothers’ Day, the breakfast all-day menu (every day except Sundays) at one of San Rafael’s favorite hangouts is a lifesaver.  The breakfast taco comes with or without pulled pork, the eggy Azteca Torta sandwich comes with the kitchen’s addictive potato chips, but the roast veggie and goat cheese tartine with fresh herbs or Detox Salad are brunchy hits on weekdays, too.

Left Bank

Left Bank

Is Mom a prix fixe or a la carte type? No matter: the asparagus soup and crab Florentine Benedict, the filet of beef and wild mushroom risotto with crème fraiche are available either way. Don’t miss the Opera cake, its decadent hazelnut crème interior matched by a shiny chocolate top. If dining outside, the south-facing deck should be sunny but the newly installed gondola along Larkspur’s Ward St offers shade.

Smiley’s Saloon


Don’t forget your sweater to savor La Margarita with Smiley’s Curaçao and smoked salt cocktail on the breezy patio of Bolinas’s favorite hangout. Pair it with a plate of chilaquiles or a kale and quinoa bowl topped with vegan mushroom chorizo. Complete a Mexican-inspired fiesta by swiping house-made churros through creamy dulce de leche. Calories be damned!

Rancho Nicasio

Rancho Nicasio

Chicken fried steak is not often found at restaurants in Marin, but is a staple at a restaurant in the county’s rural heart at Rancho Nicasio, deftly bridging the gap between old and new. Or try the Hangtown fry, a dish of oysters and eggs that defined the insane wealth accrued by some during the Gold Rush era. Whatever you choose, a newly reconfigured outdoor space welcomes all with plenty of shade and ample room between tables.

William Tell House

William Tell House

All moms can start their Tomales prix fixe experience with a gift of a potted succulent before transitioning to a three-course meal. Begin with McFarland Springs trout or goat cheese and beet toast before pivoting to a crab cake Benedict, or steak and eggs. Wrap up with a strawberry torte or chocolate pot de crème.. Owner Ted Wilson hopes moms will support a special raffle that day to raise money for Tomales High School Girls Soccer before or after their prix fixe or a la carte lunch.

Sonoma

Blue Ridge Kitchen

Blue Ridge Kitchen restaurant in bay area, eggs breakfast

Fun and unexpected twists are the norm from a newcomer to the North Bay dining scene named for a famous Eastern mountain range. The restaurant bills itself as having a southern drawl but the cioppino with tomato-anise broth and local Dungeness crab speaks clearly of California. Nor is there anything “short” about the 10 hours ribs spend slowly smoking before becoming Short Rib Hash. Raw oysters, however, are simply topped with Meyer lemon hibiscus granita and a smoked mignonette.

Fern Bar

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Fern Bar (@fernbar.sebastopol)

The lush environs and soaring ceilings defy the speakeasy cocktail-driven vibe of this restaurant and–soon again–live music venue at The Barlow in Sebastopol. Cocktails get geeky (Banjee Tangie with Genepy des Alpes and tangerine) and freaky (Urban Bourbon with house-made walnut liqueur and Scotch mist) while brunch is more down to earth (French toast, pork katsu sandwich with red cabbage and French fries). 

San Francisco

Brenda’s Meat & Three


From catfish beignets to Low Country gumbo, the food from magazine staff favorite in San Francisco’s NoPa neighborhood is influenced by owner Brenda Buenviajé’s New Orleans childhood. We can’t get enough of the eggs Benedict with Creole hollandaise and a biscuit. It practically demands to be paired with a cup of Grandma’s Molasses-Black Walnut Iced Coffee.

Angler

Angler

Though there are plenty of veggie options, fresh seafood and shellfish is what’s on the menu at San Francisco’s Angler. Bivalves and oysters, abalone and crab and even a whole Maine lobster from the wood-fired grill. But really,  you should go just for the Parker House rolls with seaweed butter, an umami bomb that satisfies your savory cravings with every bite.

Mymy

Mymy Brunch

Words like “insane” and “amazing” were frequently tossed around the office while discussing the brunch at this coffee shop in San Francisco’s Polk Gulch neighborhood. The must-try dishes are Parmesan-crusted Zucchini Ricotta Pancakes and the Tex Mex Scramble with roasted jalapeños and chorizo. Though straight-up coffee is the go-to pairing at a coffee shop, there’s a Red Velvet Latte to linger over. That’s insane, right?

East Bay

Pomella

Pomella restaurant brunch bay area, outdoor seating

The California-by-way-of-Israel menu from chef-owner Mica Talmor at her restaurant in Oakland’s Piedmont neighborhood changes with the seasons. Eggplant mezze is infused with pomegranate, topped with yogurt-tahini sauce and impossible to stop eating. Beet Ras El Hanout salad with yam and walnut may give way to carrots roasted with cinnamon and clove. Falafel and hummus, however, are eternal. 

Donato & Co

Donato

In Oakland’s Elmwood neighborhood, craveable rustic Italian fare with seasonal flair is on the menu every day. On May 9, the menu is designed for dine-in or to-go and includes baked local artichokes with pea puree, housemade lobster and prawn ravioli,  and Monterey Bay petrale sole with black rice and tomato confit. Finish off an Italian feast with sfogliatina, a layered pastry filled with Swanton Farm strawberries and cream.

Plank Oakland

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by plank (@plankoakland)

Bowling and bocce add a touch of cheer to the annual ritual of celebrating Mom and the family-friendly menu is available at the bar and on the broad patio. Look for loco moco, Hawaii’s favorite eggs and gravy dish, plus familiar fare like breakfast has and chilaquiles. Coconut cold brew pumps up the morning while a sparkling Bellini makes toasting Mom a breeze.  


How to Help

For more ways to support local businesses, go here.


For more on Marin:


Christina MuellerChristina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.