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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 brunch menu 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 menu is good, 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 on Valencia and 19th. If
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Nick’s Crispy Tacos/Rouge

Rouge_home

I’m afraid I must start this one on an unfortunate note – Nick’s Crispy Tacos (which is what I’ll call the combined entity of Nick’s and Rouge from here on out for simplicity’s sake) no longer has bottomless mimosas. The good news is they have carafes that are plenty cheap and tacos at reasonable prices, so you won’t have to break the bank to get in some solid hours of brunch.

For those who are unfamiliar with this legendary San Francisco establishment, Nick’s is on the corner of Broadway and Polk in Nob Hill. It’s dimly lit with big chandeliers and a lot of red velvet – a sort of self-aware kitschy vibe. Rouge is the name of the bar/club where you get your drinks, and Nick’s is a counter inside that makes food. For whatever reason, nobody ever calls it Rouge; it’s just known as Nick’s.

The Bottomless

No bottomless, but for $10 you can get a carafe of mimosas that’ll get you a solid five mimosas. The ratio is great – a bottle of champagne in each with a little OJ on top. There are also a number of other brunch specials on margaritas, micheladas and Bloody Marys if you want to mix it up.

The Food

Nick’s Crispy Tacos are well known because they’re some of the best in SF. Not really authentic, but the texture of the tacos and the quality of the ingredients make for great food. You’ll want to order your tacos Nick’s Way, which means made crispy (a hard shell taco wrapped in a soft shell taco) and with guacamole. I love the fried fish and fried chicken tacos, but they’re all great.

The Service

The folks at Nick’s are always nice, and the bartender was great for brunch. At one point he poured us a carafe, let us try it and asked if it was too light on the champagne – we weren’t going to say no to that, so he poured more into it and gave it back.

Overall

Nick’s Crispy Tacos are as good for brunch as they are for any other meal of the day, and cheap drinks and good service make this a nice place to have brunch. It’s definitely not your usual brunch spot, though, so keep it for a casual brunch with friends – nothing classy here.

Rating: 🍾🍾🍾

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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, but once you get in
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Colibri

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Colibri is a traditional Mexican restaurant located a couple of blocks from Union Square in Lower Nob Hill on Geary between Mason and Taylor. The
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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
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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, they give you straight champagne
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