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Food & Drink

San Francisco’s best new breakfast joint will make you a morning person

Your weekday indulgence should be this apple triple-threat French toast. Plus: Brunch of a Vietnamese sort, a new pizza from A16 and a cocktail worth fighting for.

A dish with roasted vegetables, nuts, and green apple slices topped with a scoop of sorbet sits in a white bowl with a red rim. A cup of black coffee is beside it.
Decadent french toast with apples three ways at Early to Rise | Source: Sara Deseran/The Standard

This is All Things Consumed, a weekly column by The Standard’s eaters-at-large featuring three great dishes we’ve eaten and one cocktail we’d happily drink again and again.

Apple Butter French Toast at Early to Rise

At the tender hour of 8 a.m., a simple gesture of generosity is everything. Cue the friendly server with an armful of tattoos (bumble bee, flower, log), gripping a thermos of strong Signal coffee and pouring endless complimentary refills. This kind of benevolence sums up the whole vibe at Early to Rise, which is set on bringing back the pleasures of a sit-down weekday breakfast.

The restaurant opened in February with chef-owner Andrew McCormack at the helm—a guy who’s gone from his tweezer days at Quince to slinging grits. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in the sun, and the expansive dining room hums with diners seated at the counter getting their housemade bagel on. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, McCormack has retained his Southern twang, which makes his simple, rustic Anson Mills grits from his hometown taste even better. They’re served with Eggs Stinson, a Benedict made with Dungeness crab salad tossed with an array of licorice-y herbs, including Thai basil and tarragon. 

Eggs benedict with crab, grits and salad at Early to Rise
Eggs Stinson is Early to Rise's delicious crab-forward Benedict. | Source: Sara Deseran/The Standard

I loved, even more, the decadent French toast made with spongy challah shamelessly soaking up a warm bath of caramel-apple syrup, all topped with both roasted and fresh Pink Lady apples, earthy hazelnuts and a dollop of creme fraiche. This is home cooking of the highest rank with an earnest, dedicated morning person driving it. Case in point: McCormack went through the hassle of becoming a certified meat processor so he could make smoked meats on the premises. Packaged bacon coming soon. —SD

💰 $20
📍 Early to Rise, 1801 McAllister St., Nopa, San Francisco

The rice porridge at Bodega
Silky-smooth and savory, Bodega's chao suon (rice porridge with mussels) is the ultimate Vietnamese morning comfort food. | Source: Sara Deseran/The Standard

Rice Porridge with Mussels at Bodega

As someone who loves Vietnamese food, I am embarrassed to admit how long it took me to get to Bodega, the second iteration of Matthew Ho’s Tenderloin family restaurant (the first was Bodega Bistro, which his father owned). A pandemic success story, Bodega opened in a new, chic little space in 2022. And I’m here to say much belatedly: It is really great.

What’s new about it now? As of May, they serve brunch, which includes an all-in seafood banh canh, a noodle soup heavy with huge river prawns, Dungeness and slippery tapioca noodles, as well as a deliciously messy burger with a fried egg and a classic slaw of pickled carrots and daikon—familiar elements of a banh mi. Then came the humble headliner: the chao suon. A silky, comforting Hanoi-style rice porridge made using soaked and blended jasmine and sweet rice cooked in a pork broth and topped with poached mussels. It’s served with crispy, savory doughnuts for dipping—a carb coma in a bowl. I could have curled up in it. Luckily, one sip of the tooth-shatteringly sweet Vietnamese coffee and you’ll never sleep again. —SD

💰 $16
📍 Bodega, 138 Mason St., Tenderloin, San Francisco

Pizza from A16 at the Ferry Building in San Francisco
The pizza al taglio at A16 La Pala in the Ferry Building is perfect for a waterfront picnic. | Source: Alicia Cocchi/The Standard

Pizza al taglio at A16 La Pala

Food is not enjoyed in a vacuum. It’s best garnished with delicious surroundings. The day I visited La Pala, A16’s new counter-service slice-and-panini joint, which opened in February at the Ferry Building, it was as if the scene had been set. While mulling over what to order, a few chic Italian tourists were chatting about what to get for themselves.

Unlike the floppy, blistered wood-fired Neapolitan pies A16 became famous for, La Pala is serving up the sturdier Roman version of bread with cheese. For pizza al taglio, the crust is thicker, and it has a crispy chewiness encouraged by its four sides (a shape SF has taken to, considering the popularity of the Square Pie Guys). It is imminently practical, perfect for a snack. The restrained toppings are very Italian—almost austere. The tomato crudo had no more than four cherry tomatoes and two ripped pieces of fresh basil, reminding me of the rant I had once in Italy—why so much basil restraint? The slightly bitter escarole slice is salty with anchovies, rich with fior di latte mozzarella and sweet with crema de cipolla (onion cream). This is definitely outdoors food, so get it to go and find yourself a bayside bench to sit on. For the 20 minutes I spent enjoying my takeaway pie on a glorious May day, our frigid Bay could have been the Tyrrhenian. —SD

💰 $8 for six-inch slice
📍A16 La Pala, 1 Ferry Building, Embarcadero, San Francisco 

The Silver cocktail at Stoa
The Silver at Stoa is a cocktail whose simple looks belie a sophisticated mix of spirits. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

The Sliver at Stoa

With its huge windows, punched-tin ceiling and dark interior, the Lower Haight’s year-old Stoa feels like one of those century-old Brooklyn hangouts that a crew of fashionable friends from St. Ann’s School revived. Launched by a team that hails from Nopalito, Stoa has a full kitchen that cranks out a wide range of dishes, from a cayenne-heavy bowl of popcorn to a full-on bavette steak with horseradish salsa verde. But it’s first and foremost a bar, dividing its extensive cocktail list into three sections based on booziness. Under the spirit-forward “Lean & Mean” section is the Sliver, a mix of the Central European plum brandy Slivovitz, the fortified French wine Bonal, Dolin dry vermouth and Gran Classico Italian bitters. Imagine armies marching on the Alps from all directions and then mixing you a single aperitif, served in a coupe, with a backbone of eau de vie. —AK

💰 $15
📍Stoa, 701 Haight St., Lower Haight, San Francisco

Sara Deseran can be reached at
Astrid Kane can be reached at