Last weekend my parents and I strolled down Fillmore street in search of a pastry when the unexpected site of a crowd-free zone outside of the Elite Cafe suddenly changed our plans. Whatever the reason for the short wait for a table, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat at the best New Orleans-style restaurant outside of the city proper.
At 10:30am after a late night out, I couldn’t manage to order hearty food, so I despicably ordered granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, and biscuits, and shared the Huevos Rancheros with my mom. The “Meeting House” biscuits, miniature versions of the massive NOLA bricks, were deliciously flakey, buttery, and hot – a perfect combination of my favorite Pillsbury Grands and KFC’s buttermilk. Served with strawberry butter, these biscuits were irresistible. In fact, they’re so irresistible that they are sold frozen by the dozen for those who cannot survive until morning without eating them again.
Of course, seeing the various options side by side, I ended up focusing my attention the Mexican masterpiece of crispy corn tortilla and jack cheese quesadillas piled high with beans, fried eggs, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. The best part was the most subtle: the cheesy-grit like mashed potatoes soaked with tomatillo salsa. A breakfast fit for a (really hung over) king.
My dad’s Alabama Scramble just screamed soul food at its finest: scrambled eggs, minced bacon, mashed potatoes, and biscuits with gravy. Though the description conjures up images of heart failure, the dish’s incredibly robust flavors and fresh ingredients were an incessant reminder that this was New Orleans’ grease created in one of America’s healthiest cities.
Though the experience at the Elite Cafe is somewhat dependent on seating location, which can range from an isolated, closed off booth to a table smack dab in the middle of the bar, the brunch is inarguably one of the best this city has to offer. Though Elite specializes in Cajun and Creole cuisine, I would recommend The Elite to any visitor looking for a classic depiction of inventive San Franciscan cuisine.
Location: 2049 Fillmore Street btwn California St and Pine St