Get Schooled in the Art of Mac & Cheese at Homeroom in Oakland

Who doesn’t love Mac & Cheese? Just about every American has a sort of nostalgia towards it. I think there’s just something about that dense, cheesy mess of noodles takes us right back to grade school and having Mom whip together a quick after-school snack.

But now as an adult living in the Bay Area, I’ve figured out where everyone goes to relive those childhood memories in the form of boozy brunch. In the mostly residential Oakland neighborhood of Temescal, there’s Homeroom – a super-casual schoolhouse themed spot whose name and decor only serve to further the emotional connection between the food and being a little kid.

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Fast, Fresh, Flavorful, & Filling Greek at Souvla in Hayes Valley

In an area filled with many fancy, upscale sit-down restaurants, Souvla is a welcome addition to the Hayes Valley neighborhood. With its cheap, high-quality spit-roasted meats served in either sandwich or salad form, excellent selection of Greek wines, and absolutely delicious french fries this casual, yet elegant spot is a real winner.

It’s the kind of place that’s cheap enough for a random weeknight dinner and at the same time sexy enough to work as a great casual date night spot. There is no waiter service, which sort of takes away from the date night vibe, but it’s done so well that I really can’t complain. This place is a real gem.

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Grab Breakfast at The Dipsea Cafe on Your Way to See the Redwoods

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Ever since I was seven years old playing Crusin’ USA on Nintendo 64, I’ve wanted to see the gigantic Californian Redwood trees in person. Finally, almost 20 years later, now that I’ve moved from NYC to San Francisco, I easily have the ability to go to them whenever the urge strikes. All it takes is a short drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to the North Bay followed by a truly treacherous, narrow, winding, fog-shrouded, mountainside drive up to Muir Woods.

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Hipsterized Southern Brunch at Sweet Woodruff in the Tendernob

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*Editor’s Note 1/2/17: I’m sad to report that this eatery is no longer open.

If the divey dinner aesthetic of Han’s represents the “Tenderloin” part of the Tendernob neighborhood, then Sweet Woodruff would represent the “Nob Hill” portion. Only one block away from Han’s but a world of difference away in vibe you’ll find a completely opposite brunching experience with a much more trendy and modern take on the meal.

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Hangover Cure: Korean & American Fusion Breakfast at Han’s Coffee Shop in the Tendernob

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Locals always have the best food tips. One drunken night out the town in San Francisco, I ended up chatting with a 10-year SF resident at a bar and it became abundantly clear that I was gonna be pretty hungover the next morning. After informing her that I was staying in the Union Square area, she told me that I absolutely must go to Han’s in the morning to cure my hangover.

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Drink Your Face Off with Bottomless Cocktails & Latin Brunch at Yerba Buena in Greenwich Village

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New Yorkers fucking love brunch. Not only do New Yorkers love brunch, but they love to drink cocktails aggressively while they’re at it. It’s a quintessential part of NY culture, to go out partying ’til 4 AM, wake up disturbingly hungover the next morning afternoon and rely on the old hair of the dog trick to get through the torturous pain that comes with a brutal hangover. And that’s why All You Can Drink brunch was born, to solve this distinctly New York-y problem, but not all AYCD brunch spots are alike.

Some brunches are super expensive, others have mediocre-to-poor food, others have crappy generic cocktails, and others are just too damn crowded to tolerate. When I’m in the mood for an awesomely excessive AYCD brunch, my go-to is Yerba Buena on Perry Street in Greenwich Village.

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Super Fancy Scientifically Brewed Coffee & Fresh, Flavorful Brunch at Blue Bottle in SF

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Everyone has an opinion when it comes to coffee. I too am a bit of a snob and would rather cut myself than drink the burnt, ashy-tasting muck they serve at Starbucks. So, the San Francisco and New York based Blue Bottle has been a godsend for me. When it comes to coffee, they treat it more as an art and truly more like a science than anywhere else I’ve ever drank the stuff. This, of course, draws hoards of mustachioed hipsters who are happy to wait daily in long snaking lines, but Blue Bottle is one of the few places I’m willing to put up with it.

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Upscale, Meaty, Cajun BBQ Paradise at Cochon Restaurant in NOLA
Upscale, Meaty, Cajun BBQ Paradise at Cochon Restaurant in New Orleans

Upscale, Meaty, Cajun BBQ Paradise at Cochon Restaurant in NOLA

Last December, on a two-day trip to New Orleans, I had one of the most incredible meals of my life at Cochon Restaurant. We indulged in a variety of amazing specialties like Fried Alligator, Fried Boudin, Rabbit & Dumplings, Sweet Potato & Hog Jowl Casserole, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. After spending two days in rural Opelousas, Amy and I drove to New Orleans for a 24-hour stopover and made sure to have a reservation to return to Cochon for another insane meal.

Located in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, only about a 15 minute walk south of the chaos of the French Quarter, Cochon, helmed by executive chef Donald Link, serves up mighty fine, upscale takes on hearty, Southern and Cajun cuisine. Whether you’re in town for Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, or for no particular reason at all, I urge you to make Cochon one of your dining destinations.

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Ethnic Brunch with Asian Influenced Barbecue & Cocktails at Fatty ‘Cue
Ethnic Brunch with Asian Influenced Barbecue & Cocktails at Fatty ‘Cue

Ethnic Brunch with Asian Influenced Barbecue & Cocktails at Fatty ‘Cue

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*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open.

On this hungover Sunday morning, we were deciding where to meet up with my parents for brunch. I’m pretty particular about brunch since I don’t like waiting in lines and don’t want ordinary breakfast food I could make myself at home for a quarter of the price. After some quick thinking, Amy and I remembered the excellent dinner we previously had at Fatty ‘Cue and figured their Asian inflected menu would probably serve as a excellent and interesting brunch spot.

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