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The Pink Elephant Alibi

pink elephant sf

The Pink Elephant Alibi is one of SF’s most popular brunch spots, 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 Pink Elephant, 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

All 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

Pink Elephant 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. 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

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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

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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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Fresca

Fresca fillmore
There are four Fresca locations in San Francisco – we visited Fresca Fillmore in Pac Heights. The cuisine is Peruvian, which is a nice change of pace from the usual brunch foods. We didn’t have a reservation but were nonetheless seated immediately, as the restaurant was a bit less than half full. A few folks trickled in as we were there, but generally if you want to have bottomless brunch with a large group and didn’t have the foresight to make a reservation, Fresca may be a good option.
The Bottomless
$14 for two hours. Just traditional mimosas with no carafes. Because the restaurant wasn’t particularly full, it wasn’t tough to get refills. We didn’t test whether the cutoff was strict, since we had to head out to a friend’s house before our two hours were up. The staff didn’t strike me as the type that would enforce a hard cutoff, but I can’t say for sure.
The Food
As with most ethic places serving brunch, Fresca brunch consisted of a combination of a few styles of food. There’s traditional brunch – buttermilk pancakes and eggs benedict – as well as Peruvian/brunch fusion (which is about a San Francisco of a cuisine style as I can imagine). They’ve got adobos rancheros (friend eggs over pork, beans and rice with tortillas – delicious and highly recommended) and the locro omelette (with squash stew, quinoa, peas and a few other things – no one was brave enough to try this).
There’s also traditional Peruvian lunch dishes, which are generally very hearty and meat-heavy. On the lighter lunch side, there’s the avocado crabwich and the grilled chicken pesto sandwich.
The Service
Good, but nothing extraordinary. Mimosa refills came reasonably quickly, but otherwise nothing really stood out here.
Overall
Fresca Fillmore is fine – the best thing about it from a bottomless brunch perspective is really that you can come in with a large group last minute and get a table without a two hour wait. Some of the Peruvian food is great, but it’s a little heavy and probably better for dinner.
Rating: 🍾🍾🍾
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Top of the Mark

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Price notwithstanding, the Top of the Mark brunch is the best in San Francisco, and it's not even close. For bottomless,
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Park Chalet

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Park Chalet brunch was one of my main inspirations for putting together this site. Not because it had an especially
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Beach Chalet is in Golden Gate Park right across from Ocean Beach - don't confuse it with Park Chalet, which
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Don Pistos

dine23
During the many brunch-related conversations I've had in San Francisco (most of my first dates just end up with me
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