Top of the Morning
The Diablo Guide to the East Bay's Best Breakfasts
Breakfast. They say it’s the most important meal of the day. But going out to breakfast is about more than just giving your body all the oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and orange juice it needs. The day’s first meal also offers a chance to nourish the soul, as friends and family come together to share good food, a few laughs, and a refill.
This month, Diablo highlights the East Bay’s top spots for a morning nosh. We feature the dishes worth getting up early for and the people behind the local joints where everybody knows your name—and how you take your coffee.
Whether your pleasure is pancakes, omelets, or country-style potatoes, you’re in for a real treat. Dig in!
1 Alamo Sq., (925) 743-8371 Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 5 a.m.–2 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.–2 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gotta Try: the Mickey Mouse–shaped pancakes. Especially if you’re under 12.
Cuppa Joe: No latte for you, fancy pants. You’ll drink Folger’s drip and like it.
Diehards: A group of regulars has been coming in at 5 a.m. nearly every day for the past 20 years.
Cherubini Coffee House
37 Alamo Sq., (925) 743-0824
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Sat. 6:30 a.m. until they run out of bagels (no later than 4 p.m.), Sun. 7 a.m.–1 p.m.
Gotta Try: the Eggel bagel—a toasted bagel sandwich filled with jack and cheddar cheeses, bacon, and scrambled egg.
Cuppa Joe: This is the place to splurge on a fancy latte, paired with Hungarian coffee cake.
Bring the Paper: Sundays tend to be less busy than Fridays and Saturdays.
3195 Danville Blvd. #1, (925) 838-1661
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 7–11:30 a.m., Sat. 8 a.m.–1 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Gotta Try: the eggs—especially Benedict and Florentine.
Cuppa Joe: House coffee and all the espresso drinks; but most patrons are eaters, not sippers.
Queue Rating: 10 to 15 minutes on Sundays.
Bette’s Ocean View Diner, 1807 4th St., (510) 644-3230
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Thurs.6:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Fri.–Sun. 6:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
Gotta Try: the pancake specials.
Queue Rating: Be prepared to wait for up to an hour and a half.
Cuppa Joe: Drip, espressos, but no flavors or "other froufrou stuff."
Backyard Bettes: Pancake mix and cookbook can be purchased for home experimentation.
2454 Sacramento St., Berkeley,(510) 845-1940
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–2 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Gotta Try: the French toast.
Cuppa Joe: Espresso drinks as well as standard drip.
Rick and Ann’s Restaurant
2922 Domingo Ave., (510) 649-8538
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 8 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Gotta Try: the potato-cheese pancakes, served with sour cream, chives, and applesauce.
Queue Rating: The faithful will wait up to 45 minutes for a table on weekends. Come on a Monday to take a seat sooner.
Cuppa Joe: They pour tons, despite being next door to a Peet’s; espresso drinks available.
Forget Atkins: Indulge in the homemade scones and muffins.
Cafe Meyers, 3468 Camino Tassajara Rd., (925) 736-7772
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 7 a.m.–1 p.m.
Gotta Try: the Athenian omelet, with spinach, feta, and tomatoes. A perfect tribute to local Olympian Natalie Coughlin.
Cuppa Joe: High-end gourmet coffee and all the espresso drinks. Meyers started as a coffeehouse 11 years ago, so many regulars are java fiends.
Sunny Side Up: There’s plenty of outdoor seating available.
Bring your shades.
J. D.’s Breakfast and Lunch
2837 Castro Valley Blvd., (510) 886-6622
Come ’n’ Get It: Wed.–Mon 6:45 a.m.–3 p.m. and Fri. 5–9 p.m.
Gotta Try: any of the omelets with a side of the house-ground corned beef hash.
Cuppa Joe: Keystone (from San Jose) drip.
Breakfast of Champions: Pop the cork on a bottle of Dom Perignon and raise a toast over a couple of bacon cheeseburgers for $145. Sure beats a bowl of Cheerios.
Sugar Plum Coffee Sho
1815 Colfax St., (925) 689-1738
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Sat. 6 a.m.–2 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.–1 p.m.
Gotta Try: the homemade hash browns (every day) and the huevos rancheros (weekends only).
Cuppa Joe: Regular drip, and they keep it coming.
Gather ’Round the Chuck Wagon: The homemade biscuits and gravy will stick to the ribs of even the hungriest cowpokes and cowpokettes.
Father Nature’s Shed
178 E. Prospect Ave., (925) 820-3160
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Sat. 7–11:30 a.m.
Gotta Try: the Prospector omelet: bacon, spinach, and jack cheese.
Cuppa Joe: Espressos, drip coffee, and spiced teas.
330 Hartz Ave., (925) 837-4040
Come ’n’ Get It: Sun.–Thurs. 7 a.m.–2 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 7 a.m.–9 p.m.
Gotta Try: the crab omelet or the chicken-fried steak. Walk them off on the Iron Horse Trail.
Move It or Lose It: Weekends are pretty busy, so no lollygagging.
Cuppa Joe: Espresso drinks. But the counter belongs to coffee drinkers who don’t eat.
Denica’s Pastry Café
6058 Dougherty Rd., (925) 829-6200
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 5 a.m.– 3 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 6 a.m.–3 p.m.
Gotta Try: the cheddar and Swiss croissants and the magnificent cinnamon rolls.
Cuppa Joe: Peet’s house and a full line of espresso drinks.
Be Prepared: If you want to reserve a table, call the day before.
Red Tractor Cafe
4920 Dublin Blvd., (925) 828-8300
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Gotta Try: the Farmer’s Breakfast: two eggs, two sausage patties, two strips of bacon, two pancakes,biscuits and gravy, and all the coffee you can handle.
Queue Rating: The wait is usually 10–15 minutes, but lines can stretch out the door.
Cuppa Joe: a bottomless cup
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe
4081 Hollis St., (510) 594-1221 Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–11:30 a.m., Sat.–Sun.
7 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Gotta Try: the Rude ’n’ Reckless: a variation on eggs Benedict that’s served with homemade Hollandaise sauce on a hash brown base instead of an English muffin. It’s even tastier if you get the Clash reference.
Street Cred: Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt is a part owner.
Cuppa Joe: Peet’s coffee, full range of espresso drinks.
Breakfast Buzz: Rudy’s also serves beer, mimosas, cypruses, and sake Bloody Marys.
1005 Brown Ave., (925) 284-9390
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Sat. 7–11 a.m.
Gotta Try: the eggs Benedict.
Cuppa Joe: Espresso drinks, and a nice French roast drip.
1018 Oak Hill Rd., (925) 283-2397
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 5 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Gotta Try: the house coffee cake. (Millie’s wouldn’t let us print the top-secret recipe.)
Cuppa Joe: Espressos and fresh drip: Peerless.
Cozy Confines: Locals don’t mind squeezing into this converted house.
The Squirrel Coffee Shop
998 Moraga Rd., (925) 284-7830
Come ’n’ Get It: Tues.–Fri. 7 a.m.–2 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gotta Try: the vegetarian omelet and the eggs Benedict (weekends only).
Cuppa Joe: Fresh drip coffee, but no espresso.
Railroad Cafe, 2041 Railroad Ave., (925) 447-0235
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 7 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gotta Try: the famous potato pancakes—no hash browns here.
Cuppa Joe: Leaded or unleaded.
Ranch House Café
1012 School St., (925) 376-5127
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 8 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.
Gotta Try: the Farmer’s Omelet, with mushrooms, cheese, bacon, and sausage, and the fresh corned beef hash.
Cuppa Joe: Farmer Brothers drip.
So That’s Where They Got the Name: In the 1940s, the property was a walnut and pear orchard that had heaps of horse stables.
Full House Cafe
3719 Macarthur Blvd, (510) 482-2200
Come ’n’ Get It: Tues.–Sun. 7:30 a.m.–2:30 a.m.
Gotta Try: the blueberry pancakes.
Cuppa Joe: Narsai coffee, nice and strong. Perhaps the tastiest cup of house coffee in the East Bay.
Mama’s Royal Cafe
4012 Broadway, (510) 547-7600
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Gotta Try: any of the break-fast basics.
Queue Rating: By 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the line’s out the door.
Cuppa Joe: Espressos as well as Colombian drip.
T. J.’s Gingerbread House
741 Fifth St., Oakland, (510) 444-7373
Come ’n’ Get It: Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Gotta Try: the Cinnaman, a gingerbread man with extra cinnamon, garnished with fresh fruit.
Cuppa Joe: T. J.’s house coffee is blended with chicory.
Will Paint For Food: Much of T. J.’s interior design dates from the Haight–Ashbury era, when artists passing through would decorate the place in exchange for a bowl of jambalaya.
63 Moraga Way, (925) 254-7704
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 7 a.m.–3 p.m.
Gotta Try: the fresh baked bread, of course!
Cuppa Joe: Espresso drinks, and the drip coffee is always fresh.
Village Inn Café
290 Village Sq., (925) 254-6080
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 6–11:25 a.m., Sat. 7–11:25 a.m.
Gotta Try: the waffles with butter and powdered sugar.
Cuppa Joe: Farmer Brothers drip.
Ann’s Sunshine Cafe
1908 Oak Park Blvd., (925) 938-5180
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.– 3 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gotta Try: the weekday specials. This is Monday’s deal: one egg, hash browns, toast, and bacon or sausage for $3.75; the larger weekend specials run from $6.25 to $7.95.
Cuppa Joe: Superior drip. No lattes, but try the old-school hot cocoa.
620 Main St., (925) 846-4222
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Sat. 6 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Sun.7 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Gotta Try: any of the—gulp—265 omelets, including plenty of vegetarian options.
Cuppa Joe: Superior drip.
Kitschy Charms: Owner John Correia serves his scramblers on old-fashioned "chuck wagon" plates. "They don’t make many of them anymore," he says. "I have to order them from New York City." New York City?!?
Jim’s Country Style Restaurant
5400 Sunol Blvd. #1, (925) 426-7019
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 6 a.m.–4 p.m.
Gotta Try: any of the omelets.
Cuppa Joe: The java flows freely here—because some customers sit at the counter and guzzle.
Vic’s All Star Kitchen
201 Main St., (925) 484-0789
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 7 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gotta Try: the omelets, the linguiça, and the French toast.
Busiest Time: weekends between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Take a Seat: Vic’s recently added a new dining room to cut down on wait times.
2550 San Ramon Valley Blvd., (925) 831-2145
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 7 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gotta Try: one of the dozen varieties of eggs Benedict.
Queue Rating: Trying to get a
table on Saturday or Sunday at 9:30 a.m. is like trying to get an audience with the pope.
3191-L Crow Canyon Pl., (925) 866-9460
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 6 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.–3 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gotta Try: the outstanding omelets and the pancake combinations.
Cuppa Joe: All the espressos, plus Peerless drip.
Sunol Coffee House and Cafe
11882 Main St., (925) 862-2914
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Gotta Try: the classic bacon and eggs with home fries and toast for $5.95.
Cuppa Joe: Peerless drip, plus a full range of espresso drinks.
The Original Hick’ry Pit
1495 S. Main St., (925) 935-7450
Come ’n’ Get It: daily 6 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gotta Try: the Traveler’s Special: waffle, pancakes, or French toast; bacon, ham, or sausage; plus coffee and orange juice, all for $7.99.
Save Some Room: The Pit’s fresh-baked pies are to die for.
Cuppa Joe: Drip, drip, drip.
1559 Botelho Dr., (925) 930-0122
Come ’n’ Get It: Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–11 a.m., Sat. 7 a.m.–11:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Gotta Try: Stevie’s Omelet (ham, avocado, salsa, and cheese) or Joe’s Special (a sausage, egg, and spinach scramble).
TV Breakfasts: In 1981, owner Cindy Gershen started the little bakery across the street, which blossomed first into the Bistro and then into a full-blown catering company. She’s currently pitching a food television program to producers.
Cuppa Joe: Espressos. And on the drip? You guessed it: Peerless.