We are a city of brunch-ers. In other words, we are a city who really likes to wait in line for 45+ minutes nursing a bloody mary, waiting for that coveted table at our favorite brunch locale, which just happens to be everyone else’s in your neighborhood as well.
Vacillating between the #1 and 2 positions on my list of favorites (depending on the day and wait time) is Universal Cafe.
My go-to dish is the soft scrambled eggs with seasonal vegetable (asparagus, fava beans, spring onion yuuum) – the creamiest mountain of melt-on-your-mouth egginess I have ever consumed. However, it’s not pictured here. I’m sort of on a kick to try new things.
From the lunch menu, the Grass Fed Flatiron Steak with Frites and Salsa Verde ($18.75):
The salsa verde was both herby and salty.
Grilled Flatbread with Spinach, Artichoke and Chevre ($11.75). Crispy and light crust. Toppings were fresh and did not cause the crust to be soggy.
And so healthy… bring me seconds! (any combination of the words flat, bread, and cheese gets my heart racing)
A salad that is both bursting with sweetness and savoriness- Little Gem Lettuces with Pickled Beets, Creamy Balsamic dressing, and cheddar ($8.25). I asked for the dressing on the side so I could taste the sweet earthy flavors of the golden yellow beets.
And finally, some brunchy dishes!
Yes that’s a delicious side of bacon in the back there ($5.50). There is always a French Toast with seasonal fruit and Chantilly cream ($12). Here it is an orange marmalade with slivers of candied orange peel. Our favorite has been a thick huckleberry compote (with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar of course).
This was the special egg dish that day- Fried Eggs with grilled asparagus, salsa verde, and prosciutto cotto– a delicious cooked ham … It was a beautifully composed dish, but I sorely missed my soft scramble.
This is a rare shot. Normally on the weekends, there is a crowd outside and in, of all sorts of eclectic urbanites. Great for people watching and for spotting a celebri-chef every now and then. (We ran into a Top Chef contest here once, and spoke for almost an hour!)
Service: fair, but nothing to rave about
Ambiance: Like stepping into a friend’s home for a (very crowded) brunch party. Opt for sitting at the bar that looks on into the open kitchen to see the weekend crew expedite the hell out of all those egg dishes!
Other Must Tries: Plate of local fruit with toast, fromage blanc, cinnamon and honey, and start your brunch with a generous slice of the toasted house banana bread with cream cheese
Neighborhood: Potrero Hill/Mission
2814 19th Street
(between Bryant and Florida)
San Francisco, CA