Ella’s: “Neo Classical” San Francisco Breakfast

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Restaurant San Francisco

Ella's has been a Presidio Heights breakfast mainstay for over two decades.

Danny Wilser and Robert Merryman opened Ella’s in July 1990, naming their “Neo Classical American” restaurant for Mister Wilser’s great aunt. After building a dedicated following, cousins Andy and Matt Skov bought Ella’s in January 2006 and retained the eatery’s key elements. Ella’s seasonal menu still changes weekly, and everything is still prepared in-house daily, including all the baked goods.

Biscuit San Francisco

We were hoping to start with Ella’s fresh-baked sticky buns, but thanks to the bun-loving brunch crowd, they already sold out. Instead, we split a warm buttermilk biscuit, a massive baked good that was well-intentioned, but still needed a few streaks of whipped butter.

Jam San Francisco

This crock of fresh strawberry preserves, shown with a summery table setting, helped bolster my biscuit. I didn’t know they grew pineapples this small.

Pancakes San Francisco

There was the option to order just one or two buttermilk pancakes, but my father went all-in, ordering the triple ($8.75). A single would have been plenty; they were tangy and subtly sweet, but heavy.

Sausage San Francisco

Country Style Sausage ($3.75) patties were seasoned with herbs, craggy and luscious.

Breakfast San Francisco

I was tempted by Brandied Orange French Toast, until I turned to my right and saw the future: an open-faced omelette with bacon, cherry tomatoes, grilled corn, fresh thyme and gouda ($11.50). Juicy tomatoes were of the moment, there was plenty of smoky bacon, and fresh-cut corn kernels added a sweet topper.

Ella’s bakes five varieties of bread daily – White, Wheat, Sourdough Rye, Honey Oat Raisin and Buttermilk Biscuit. I chose honey oat raisin, which was studded with golden raisins and featured a supple oat-lined crust.

Fruit San Francisco

The Fresh Fruit Plate ($6.50) wasn’t just pretty to look at – a sunburst of color – but the blueberries, strawberries, and slices of kiwi, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, pineapple and papaya were also all at peak ripeness.

Coffee Cake San Francisco

Moist coffee cake ($2.25) was studded with poppy seeds and featured a winning streusel cap.

Juice San Francisco

Even my beverage had a nice twist. Ginger Orange Juice Punch ($3.50) hosted a subtle bite.

I ate breakfast at Ella’s when Wilser and Merryman were still in charge. I remember liking my meal, but I actually preferred my Skov-directed experience. Maybe it was the day’s selection. Maybe it was the company. Whatever the reason, Ella’s can still justify the long waits.

Ella’s: “Neo Classical” San Francisco Breakfast


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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