SN&R’s brunch issue dishes on the best meals, drinks and vibes

Our guide to the best plates, cocktails and good times

Don’t miss Bacon & Butter’s flaky biscuit sandwich. Hello, cheese skirt.

Don’t miss Bacon & Butter’s flaky biscuit sandwich. Hello, cheese skirt.


Brunch is about excess.

No one needs bacon and eggs and pancakes and sausage and bottomless mimosas to kick off a Sunday morning. But doesn’t that sound awesome?

Brunch wins the meal competition because it automatically signals the weekend. It’s fun, social and leisurely—an activity in its own right. Plus, it cures hangovers, or starts new ones.

With that in mind, SN&R set out to find the best brunch in Sacramento. In the past couple of months, we visited more than 25 local brunch spots searching for dishes and experiences that rise above the rest. Truth is, there are a lot of great options in this town, and our findings are by no means exhaustive.

Keep reading, and you’ll find our top three picks for Sacramento’s best overall brunch, as well as 10 individual dishes that blew us away.

The best brunch in Sacramento

Bacon & Butter

As specialists in the trade, perhaps the folks at Bacon & Butter have an unfair advantage in this friendly competition. But Bacon & Butter hits it out of the park every brunch service.

Chef Billy Zoellin started his experiment in egg mastery at Club 21 in Midtown, where he only had the kitchen for breakfast and lunch. Turns out, he found an untapped niche in Sacramento for high-quality brunch dishes. Now at a much bigger location in Tahoe Park, Bacon & Butter packs people in regularly, with hour-long waits on the weekends. You can make a reservation with eight or more eaters, so gather up a crowd and book a table. The menu changes frequently but is always impressively varied.

The flapjacks at Bacon & Butter.


For simpler appetites, the flapjacks wow with ultrathick buttermilk cakes topped with warm syrup and butter. Cascades of diced seasonal fruit add a healthy factor. It’s not in everything, but for a place with bacon in the name, you expect gourmet rashers, and Zoellin delivers. Look for thick-cut bacon and other pork products throughout the menu, such as the don’t-miss biscuit sandwich. A griddled flaky biscuit teeters with bacon, caramelized onions, eggs and chive mascarpone, plus a cheddar cheese skirt à la Squeeze Inn. Or, how about an omelet bursting with braised ham hock, mushrooms, Gouda cheese and shallots?

There’s a “lunchish” section with a refined burger, a “billy” club sandwich with zingy jalapeño aioli and fried green tomatoes with corn. You can even start your day drinking early with local drafts and ciders plus a few inventive cocktails.

All told, Bacon & Butter is No. 1 in our hearts for brunch because it manages to hit the sweet spot between old favorites and new ideas, while managing to expertly cook up to 1,400 eggs a day each weekend. Let’s just say Zoellin and his team know what they’re doing. 5913 Broadway, AMR

A narrow second place

Magpie Cafe

It’s rare to find a succinct, 10-item brunch menu that avoids tradition but also manages to please just about everyone—especially vegetarians. Such is the case with the always-thoughtful Magpie Cafe. Sure, there’s no eggs Benedict on the menu right now, but you can order two poached eggs over a bounty of seasonal veggies in a cast-iron skillet. Toss aside the boring Denver omelet found in other restaurants in favor of one with delicate yet bold smoked trout. Or, try the unusually light fried chicken with a supercrispy waffle, accompanied by a fruity flavor profile.

There are no mistakes here, though you’d be remiss to never try the savory bread pudding, a sweet-salty cube studded with bacon, salami and smoked chili cheddar. It’s rich, dense and positively soaked with butter and maple syrup. If you’re trying to be healthy, why are you bothering with brunch? Alternatively, see the aforementioned skillet.

With plenty of natural light and the constant hum of activity, Magpie also feels like an ideal brunch spot. The coffee, from Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters, is excellent. Instead of mimosas, the full bar serves an elderflower spritz with champagne, elderflower liqueur and club soda. And the service is always warm, cheery and efficient.

Plus, unlike Bacon & Butter, the brunch wait at Magpie is rarely horrendous. 1601 16th Street, J.B.

Finishing strong in third

Light, supercrispy fried chicken and waffles at Magpie Cafe.


Taylor’s Kitchen

For a less-obvious but excellent brunch, head over to Taylor’s Kitchen in Land Park. Serving brunch on Sundays only, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the kitchen turns out beautifully presented plates under the eye of Chef de Cuisine Jason Hammond. With quiet music and overhead fans circulating a breeze, Taylor’s Kitchen offers a slightly more upscale atmosphere with attentive table service. The menu looks short, but it’s well-curated, with suitable options for all appetites.

Start with the Portuguese doughnuts, served warm with honey whipped cream and lots of cinnamon-sugar. They’re from an old family recipe of the Johnsons, who own Taylor’s Kitchen and Market, and contain just a bit of brandy for flavor. Hammond’s specialty, the carnitas eggs Benedict turns the classic on its ear with sweet corn fritters and juicy carnitas layered with black bean puree, avocado, poached eggs and a spiced lime hollandaise. Dots of chipotle puree add smoky zing. Look for local tomatoes over the summer featured in dishes like a caprese omelet drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Taylor’s Kitchen stocks an impressive wine list, so enjoy a glass of wine or a mimosa made with a California sparkler. Then head next door to the market and buy ingredients for dinner. Sunday chores accomplished. 2924 Freeport Boulevard, AMR

Caviar. Basically.

Fried Chicken Biscuits, Cask & Barrel

Pimento cheese is having a national moment right now—chalk it up to our obsession with all things comforting, nostalgic and Southern. Find out why it’s often called “the caviar of the South” with chef Gabriel Glasier’s fried chicken biscuits ($11). Every bite sings with bold flavors and pleasing textures. There’s the crispy, juicy chicken; flaky, buttery biscuits; zingy pickled radish; sweet-and-smoky chili honey; and, of course, that bright orange layer of rich, creamy pimento cheese. Each order comes with two of these sliders, which you could split for a brunch appetizer or hog for yourself.

1431 Del Paso Boulevard, J.B.

The French know best

Croque Monsieur, Hawks Public House

Taylor’s Kitchen’s unique take on eggs Benedict features corn fritters and carnitas.


The vibes at Hawks are great for brunch: celebratory yet relaxed, with lots of beautiful, intriguing meal options that stray away from most Sacramento brunch trends. Yet, it’s one of the most simple items that so wildly stuns: the croque monsieur ($13), the classic French ham-and-cheese sandwich. Here, the quality of ingredients does most of the work, such as the housemade pan de mie bread and the Gruyere cheese that arrives golden brown on top. A little cheese-skirt action complements the creamy bechamel sauce, yet the sandwich delivers on crispy, salty edges as well. The healthy side salad encourages repeat ordering.

1525 Alhambra Boulevard, J.B.

Soul of the South

Fried Chicken & Waffle, Pangaea Bier Cafe

This soul food staple seems ubiquitous at Sacramento brunch spots right now, but perhaps the most satisfying yet simple version comes from Pangaea ($13). Three golden-brown pieces of chicken arrive with thin, crackling skin and juicy meat, all piled atop a single yeasted waffle. The waffle impresses all by itself, with hearty chewiness and big, malty flavors. On the side, the forceful, thick-cut bacon makes you wonder how something you already loved so much could get so much better. 2743 Franklin Boulevard, J.B.

Pillows of heaven

Beignets, the Porch Restaurant & Bar

The last time I went to the Porch, my server would not let me not order the beignets ($12). Seriously. She said it’d be a crime if I missed out, and sure enough, the New Orleans-style doughnuts were the star of the meal. Like little pillows of heaven, these freshly fried treats managed to be light and crisp and airy and substantial all at once. They come with fresh fruit, a shower of powdered sugar and a side dish of seasonal jam, which you should probably avoid for maximum, pure enjoyment. 1815 K Street, J.B.

Next-level bacon-egg-and-cheese

A brunch fiend in her natural habitat.


Truffle & Egg Sandwich, 58 Degrees & Holding Co.

The restaurant revamped its brunch menu recently but, luckily, left its consistent, standout version of a breakfast sandwich ($10) in place. It’s stuffed with rich, custardy scrambled eggs; crispy bacon; avocado; aioli; and Pecorino al Tartufo, a fragrant sheep’s milk cheese speckled with real truffle. The flavor is brilliant, but what makes it so satisfying is the contrast between the creamy eggs and the Acme ciabatta. Thick slices get oiled up and grilled on high heat for optimal caramelized edges that almost shatter upon contact, as well as a warm, chewy center. Vegetarians, take note: The bacon is optional and, frankly, unnecessary. 1217 18th Street, . J.B.

Oysters, it’s what’s for breakfast

Waffle & Fried Oyster, Skool on K

You might not expect brunch at a seafood-focused, Japanese-leaning restaurant, but Skool on K manages to offer a mix of standard and surprising dishes. My favorite is Skool’s playful spin on chicken and waffles ($16). Instead of fried chicken, Skool tops its waffle with a panko-breaded and fried oyster, which remains juicy and briny. A side of tartare made of Japanese pickled mustard greens keeps thing bright, pungent and interesting. Throw in a creamy, soft-boiled egg, ginjo-soaked golden raisins, a side of fruit and maple syrup, and you’re probably thinking, “There’s no way all that stuff works together.” Prepare to be proved wrong. 2319 K Street, J.B.

Fragrant and filling

Rosemary Plate, Orphan Breakfast House

Fans of rosemary—that woodsy, fragrant herb—will love this offering from the popular East Sacramento breakfast spot. The Rosemary Plate ($9) features a very healthy serving of rosemary potatoes, two eggs served any style and a thick slab of buttery rosemary bread. It all makes for a hearty meal that smells divine and tastes even better. Pro tip: In case others at your table can’t seem to keep their grubby paws off your dish (and understandably so), both the rosemary toast and potatoes are also available as a side dish. 3440 C Street, R.L.

So very proper

Housemade scones with Devonshire cream, Fox & Goose

I love carbs. I mean, I really, really love carbs. Which means that even when I order protein-rich eggs, I still want some soul-satisfying bread or pastry at my fingertips. Fox & Goose’s house-made scone makes for a lovely weekend treat. Studded with berries, it can be ordered with a side of Devonshire cream for an experience that pays perfect homage to the Fox & Goose’s British pub heritage. Order a pot of tea and you’ll feel like the Queen, at least for the morning. 1001 R Street, R.L.

Slurp-able brunch

Breakfast Pazole Rojo, Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co.

Summer may be here, but posole satisfies year-round. Chef Brian Mizner starts braising pork for carnitas before the weekend, cooking it with habanero chile, herbs and his semi-secret ingredient, orange Fanta. For brunch, he stirs it into a pot with chicken stock and a slew of add-ons: soft hominy, crunchy radishes, spicy jalapeño and finely shredded cabbage. It’s not traditional, but order the soft-poached egg on top and mix the yolk into the broth. You get a square meal in one $13 bowl and a fully restorative way to celebrate your weekend. 1630 S Street, AMR

Pizza for days

Zucchero, Hot Italian

Brunch pizzas tend to be pretty similar—eggs, onions, potatoes, repeat. Hot Italian offers a nice twist, though, with its Zucchero ($15). You’ll feel indulgently Italian snacking on slivers of warm pizza dough braided with a mixture of chocolate-hazelnut spread and mascarpone cheese. Whole toasted hazelnuts and powdered sugar gild the lily. It’s like an old-fashioned coffee cake in the best way, and intended for up to three people. You’ll be hard pressed not to eat it all yourself, with an eye-opening espresso on the side. While the Zucchero is best warm, try to save some for the next day; leftover pizza is always good—sweet or savory. 1627 16th Street, AMR