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Hollow Cow

hollow cow

“Served shamefully.” This is the last sentence in the description of one of Hollow Cow’s brunch cocktails, the Hare of the Dog. Ingredients: one shot of Fernet, one small glass of an IPA and one menthol cigarette. I don’t smoke menthols (or any cigs, really), but you better believe I had one of these for the sake of being able to provide a thorough review for Brunch Club. That’s how much I care. More on that below.

Hollow Cow is in Cow Hollow (duh) at Union and Laguna, located in the space that was formerly Lighting (RIP). As of now, it’s still pretty new, and it looks it, with a lot of wood and exposed brick in the inside and a covered patio out back with a lot of natural light. The music is fairly loud (but it’s the good stuff – 90s/2000s classics), and there are plenty of TVs both inside and out if you want to watch a game while you brunch.

The Bottomless

$25 for bottomless mimosas with no time limit. Instead of making the mimosas and bringing them out, they just serve ice buckets with champagne and a small carafe of orange juice, which is objectively the best way to serve mimosas.

The Food

The menu at Hollow Cow is fantastic – much better than what Lightning served when they were here. A few highlights:

  • Pork and grits – This was actually my second choice after being told they were out of chicken and waffles, but it was definitely the best thing at our table. The pork belly was nicely fatty and very tender, the grits were very flavorful and the poached egg on top was a great addition.
  • Short rib hash – A pretty traditional hash dish, but notable because the short ribs were perfectly tender and sweet.
  • Steak breakfast burrito –  Nothing too different from the usual breakfast burrito except that they use prime rib, which really works.

The Service

I was devastated to hear that they were out of menthols for the aforementioned Hare of the Dog. One of the servers, though, was kind enough to pull out one of his personal cigarettes to complete the cocktail. That’s service for you. Bottles of champagne also came out quickly, as did the food.

Overall

Top notch drinks, food and service – Hollow Cow brunch may be relatively new, but it was clearly designed by folks who know what they’re doing. The only minor knock is that it’s a bit pricier than some other brunch places (came to about $55 per person for bottomless drinks and an entree for each of us), but this is very much a case where you get what you pay for.

Rating: 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

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Corridor

corridor breakfast sandwich
Corridor very recently launched their bottomless brunch, so naturally Brunch Club had to go pay them a visit. You'll find
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Blackwood

blackwood food
You'll find Blackwood SF deep in the heart of brunch country - the Marina. It's a small place that shares
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The Pink Elephant Alibi

the pink elephant alibi

The Pink Elephant Alibi’s brunch is one of SF’s most popular, and with good reason. You’ll find it in SOMA on Minna near New Montgomery, and it’s unassuming from the outside, to say the least (read: it’s in an alley that smells like pee). Once you get inside and see their bottomless set up, though, you’ll have your phone in one hand Instagramming (shameless plug: follow Brunch Club on IG!) and a mimosa in the other.

If you’re planning to come to The Pink Elephant Alibi, get there early. Reservations are only accepted for right when they open at 10:30, and after that it’s first-come, first-serve. We had a res, thankfully, since when I got there five minutes before they opened, there was already a line halfway down the block. Also a homeless man clearly knew what we were all doing there and shouted at the line. There may be no experience that better encapsulates SF than waiting in a long line in an alley for brunch while getting berated by a homeless guy.

Once you’re inside, it feels more like a loud, dark bar than a restaurant, which makes for a fun environment. Still, be prepared to shout your conversations at the table.

The Bottomless

$22 for the most unique and diverse bottomless experience in the San Francisco brunch universe. When you order bottomless from your waitress, she gives you a wristband, and from there on out you serve yourself drinks at the bar. There are pitchers of champagne and about 20 different kinds of juices. Because you make your own mimosas, the ratio’s always perfect (reminder: almost entirely champagne with a splash of juice for color) and the variety of juices is really interesting.

A few highlights on the juice side of things: aloe vera, which I thought was used to help sun burns heal, turns out to be a great addition to your mimosa that’s not too sweet. Peach/mango/strawberry are there if you like things much more on the sweet side, and watermelon’s a good choice for something a little lighter. There’s also coconut, which is okay if you’re into that sort of thing but makes it look like you’re drinking a glass of milk.

There’s a two hour limit, which was pretty strictly enforced, but with this setup you should very well be able to get your fill.

The Food

The Pink Elephant Alibi’s food is generally good, with a few standouts – start with the pork belly, which is done perfectly. After that, they advertise their pork chili as a hangover cure, and they aren’t kidding. It’s thick and hearty, plus it comes with a couple of fried eggs on the side.

I opted for the chimichanga, and I highly recommend it. If you’re not familiar, a chimichanga is basically just a fried burrito, which makes it a perfect pairing for aggressive drinking at 10:30am.

The Service

The wait staff was great, and having do-it-yourself mimosas took the pressure off of them to constantly be refilling us but was also a lot of fun.

We were told when making a reservation that the policy was strict on having everyone present right at 10:30 to get in. Because the people in Brunch Club are questionable when it comes to timeliness, we were only at about half strength at that point, but they seated us (with a warning that everybody would be held to the same two hour limit even if they showed up late, but that’s the price for tardiness). A couple of hours later the owner came by, introduced himself, and very politely asked us to vacate the table (but invited us to have another mimosa or two at the bar). Really nice guy, and totally fair about getting us out of there to turn the table over.

Overall

The Pink Elephant Alibi brunch has a reputation as one of SF’s best, and it lives up to it. It’s extremely lively and a ton of fun to go with a big group, but reservations are highly recommended. The mimosa experience is unique, the wait staff is friendly and a trip here promises to start your Saturday right.

Rating: 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

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The Vestry

chapel
The Vestry SF Brunch is in a restaurant inside the Chapel, a large bar and music venue in the Mission
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Oola

unnamed (2)
Oola SF is down in SOMA on Folsom between 4th and 5th. It does't look like much from the outside,
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Colibri

Colibri
Colibri is a traditional Mexican restaurant located a couple of blocks from Union Square in Lower Nob Hill on Geary
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