Brunch is usually synonymous with egg-based, meat-heavy, and dairy-laden dishes, but these Bay Area spots are challenging that stereotype by whipping up creative plant-based spins on all the classic brunch offerings that are just as delicious without the cruelty.
1. The Butcher’s Son (Berkeley)
Opened in February 2016, The Butcher’s Son reflects a new trend in the plant-based food movement—with the openings of several other vegan butcher shops and delis across the country—proving that even the most traditionally meat- and dairy-based dishes can be made vegan. Their gourmet brunch menu could fool any omnivore with dishes like #ThisIsMyAddiction featuring scrambled “egg,” grilled mozzarella, avocado, and bacon on garlic ciabatta, and doughnut-stuffed pancakes.
Must-eat dish: The Level 8 Vegan, a toasted bagel with fried chicken, bacon, cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, and avocado
2. Crêpes Bistro (San Jose)
A Bay Area hidden gem, Crêpes Bistro is cooking up a myriad of vegan dishes, and nearly everything on their menu is vegan or can be made vegan. They offer a variety of savory and sweet crêpes, fresh baked pastries, and açaí bowls. A vegan crêpe is a rare find even in the veg-friendly Bay Area, but this San Jose eatery is filling that gap by offering more than a dozen different variations.
Must-eat dish: Royal Veggie Crêpe with vegan cheese, roasted eggplant, mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, carrots, marinated white onion sauce, lemon tahini sauce, and spinach
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3. Two Mamma’s Vegan Kitchen (Oakland)
Founded by vegan couple, Jess and Jules, this homey vegan, counter-service café, that focuses on in-season ingredients, is a local favorite. From cheesy Bacon Gouda Breakfast Sandwich with meaty fillings to golden waffles topped with fresh fruit, swirls of maple syrup, and a big pat of melty vegan butter, this eatery is the perfect go-to for a lazy Sunday morning.
Must-eat dish: The Bacon Benedict with organic tofu, soy bacon, English muffin, avocado, and homemade hollandaise sauce
4. Millennium (Oakland)
If you’re looking for a more upscale brunch with dishes that are as creative as they are delicious, Millennium—relocated from San Francisco to Oakland—will fit the bill. A gourmet vegan Bay Area hot spot for over two decades, Millennium only gets better with age. Huckleberry scones, sourdough beignets, and buckwheat griddle cakes with caramelized brandied apples and whipped coconut cream are just a few of the dishes you’ll find on this indulgent brunch menu.
Must-eat dish: Mushrooms & Grits with smoked portobello, king trumpets, runner beans, roasted tomato étouffée, braised collard greens, and salsa fresca
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5. Nourish Cafe (San Francisco)
With two locations in San Francisco, this quaint eatery is bringing healthy, plant-based eats to the foggy city. From grain bowls to green smoothies, and fancy avocado toast to quinoa-based waffles, this small, minimalist café’s menu is full of vegan goodness. We can’t stop oogling the Savory Toasts menu with six different gourmet toppings for seedy, locally made bread.
Must-eat dish: Fritatta Sandwich with Just Egg, spinach, roasted mushrooms, carmelized onions, housemade artichoke mayo, and heirloom tomatoes
6. Saturn Cafe (Berkeley and Santa Cruz)
This quirky longtime Bay Area vegetarian establishment—first opened in 1979—is out of this world! The retro space-themed interior creates a fun atmosphere that is reflected in their equally fun menu. Saturn is known for their decadent milkshakes and crave-worthy late-night menu, but their Sunday brunch with bottomless mimosas is not to be missed! They even have a dog-friendly patio so you can bring your four-legged friend along with you. Their Bay Area location is in Berkeley, but they also have a second location in Santa Cruz, home of VegNews HQ (and yes—we eat there often).
Must-eat dish: Coconut Cream Pie French Toast with whipped coconut cream
7. Timeless Coffee (Oakland)
A one-of-a-kind Bay Area establishment, Timeless Coffee offers an impressive array of baked goods and coffee drinks—and you don’t have to worry about peeking over the counter to make sure the barista is using almond milk! During the week you can find savory frittatas, creamy danishes, and buttery scones stocking the glass counter cases—but on the weekend, Timeless offers rotating brunch specials, such as a Monte Cristo sandwich with VeganEgg, Chao cheese, and Tofurky ham on sourdough, and a blueberry buckwheat waffle piled high with fresh fruit, strawberry preserves, and coconut whip cream.
Must-eat dish: A slice of their Apple Tea Walnut cake and a mug of their house-roasted coffee
Sarah McLaughlin is the New Products Editor for VegNews who thinks weekend brunch is the best meal of the week.