East Bay Breakfast Spots that Don’t Involve Waiting in Long Lines

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Congratulations, you successfully made the most important decision of the day: You made it out of bed.

But now, unfortunately, the options will be coming at you quick and heavy. These are some 2 a.m., red phone, President of the United States choices:

Should you make coffee?

Do you even have coffee beans?

If not, how long is the walk to the neighborhood spot that’s not a Starbucks, because screw Starbucks?

Which begs the ultimate question: Maybe you should just go back to bed and give up?


You’re heading out. The world is your oyster. (Except oysters sound pretty nasty at this time of day.)

Speaking of which: You’re hungry, too. High time to embrace laying a foundation, so as to abide your mother’s sagest advice: Breakfast.

But just uttering the word “breakfast” invokes an even more brutal storm of decisions to be made: bacon, some steel-cut oatmeal, spicy chilaquiles, something different and hip that you can Instagram and impress your friends with, or that tremendous fried-chicken sandwich on an everything bagel at Beauty’s? Oh, irresolution.

Some days, the journey to that first of three-square meals doesn’t fit into the round peg that is your pre-noon coherence. Yet, somehow, you at least know one thing with total certainty:

Do not want to wait in line.

The good news is that — miraculously — there are East Bay breakfasts to revel in that don’t involve Disneyland queues.

You need not spend an hour zoning out on Facebook while waiting on a West Oakland sidewalk in a line that isn’t moving.

You. Can. Eat. Now.

And I’m here to help. I did some breakfast homework, and have for you a handful of places where you can wiggle into a seat or booth and have a hot plate in front of you faster than the Raiders give up a touchdown (a.k.a., stupid fast).

I also have unique access to the premiere source for East Bay food tips, Luke Tsai (i.e., I just stick my head out my office door and ask him where to go). And, as is custom, he was generous with his advice.

Such as Pyramids Restaurant & Grill (3100 High St., Oakland, 510-842-8870, PyramidsRestaurantAndGrill.com). Tsai reviewed this spot on the east side near the Laurel last fall. What’s interesting about it is that it serves normal breakfast fare — pancakes, benes, etc. — but also Egyptian-American eats, too.

For instance, there are ful mudames, which Egyptians eat for breakfast pretty much every day, according to what the owner told Tsai. The mudames “is a big plate of bean mush, cooked soft enough that you can smear it on a piece of grilled pita like you would hummus,” Tsai wrote.

So, if you are: One, averse to lines; and two, over the phenomenon that is “bruuuuunch,” what with the accompanying bottomless mimosas, then Pyramids might just be the choice to make.

But maybe you’re in the mood for something classic and American. Perhaps you’re the type of East Bay denizen who likes their eggs runny and sausage linked? If so, then Jim’s Homestyle Diner on the main thoroughfare in Alameda (2333 Lincoln Ave., 510-523-5368, JimsCoffeeShop.com) will lay a foundation as American as the first brick on Trump’s wall (no disrespect to Jim’s).

Bonus: There’s seldom if ever a line, and Jim’s has all-day breakfast items.

Entering Jim’s is a portal into classic diner and cafeteria world. Next to the front door, you can see chefs tending the hot griddle and hustling through orders. In the back, the room opens up, with both booth and also table options. Get a booth.

Special No. 1 is the jam: a big-ass waffle, an egg, and strips of bacon for $8.69. Add some home fries for three bucks and change, because there’s no eating light at Jim’s.

If you are into a less star-spangled breakfast, try Cosecha (907 Washington St. in Swan’s Market, 510-452-5900, CosechaCafe.com) on Saturday, the only day of the week the Mexican spot does brunch. There will be a line — sorry, I lied — but it moves fast, and is solely to place an order; there’s ample communal seating inside the market.

The key to breakfast at Cosecha is the pozole verde, a fresh and hearty bowl brimming with zesty broth, hominy, chicken, the usual pozole works, and with a soft but ever-present heat.

If none of these spots scratch your itch, however, don’t sweat it: There actually exist other AM spots devoid of lines.

Express food critic Tsai also recommended MLK Cafe (3860 MLK Jr. Way, 510-450-0600, MLKCafeOakland.com), an Ethiopian spot that whips up American breakfasts, but also kitcha fit-fit, which is, according to Tsai, “a traditional East African breakfast dish made with homemade dough (kitcha) that’s pan-baked, torn to pieces, and then mixed with the butter and a fiery berbere spice.”

Or there’s Actual Cafe (6334 San Pablo Ave., 510-653-8386, ActualCafe.com), which could (and should) be packed, but I bet you can slip in on the weekend without much fuss. The Local Hero Egg Sandwich is one of three breakfast-sandwich offerings, and for seven bucks is a marvel of fried egg and zingy mustard vinaigrette (add bacon or meat, if that’s your game).

Express followers on Facebook had no shortage of tips for breakfast or brunch spots lacking epic lines, too, when we asked for advice last week. And, for sure, they also had some smart-ass remarks (“but if we tell you then there will surely be a line soon” being a common refrain). Check those out at Facebook.com/EastBayExpress.

Or, like the rest of the weekend-breakfast suckers (including this one), maybe I’ll see you in line.



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