Ella’s: “Neo Classical” San Francisco Breakfast

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Pancakes San Francisco


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 benefited from 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 the 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). The juicy tomatoes were of the moment, there was plenty of smoky bacon, and the 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 the peak of ripeness.

Coffee Cake San Francisco
This moist coffee cake ($2.25) was studded with poppyseeds and featured a winning streussel 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

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Joshua Lurie

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

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