You know one of the awesome things about living in the Bay Area? Tons of restaurants that are open at 8:00 am. There’s such a food culture here that there are enough impatient people who are willing to get on with their day and go to an awesome brunch place at 8:00 am as opposed to waiting until 11:00 am and having an hour wait.
A great place for an early morning breakfast is our local neighborhood joint – Lois the Pie Queen. A four block walk from our house, Lois the Pie Queen brings together the neighborhood better than any community meeting. It’s an awesome crowd that comes – working class folks, hipsters, young families, anarchists living in a collective. Started by Lois who made the pies, it’s now run by her children and grandchildren (her piano playing, Bonnie Raitt loving granddaughter is a server). The service is warm and friendly as befits the neighborhood crowd.
With a great neighborhood vibe and great service, how does the food hold up? Amazingly well. Let’s make this clear – this is a soul food diner. There’s no mesclun mix here. The menu has an egg platter which offers a choice of bread (biscuit, white, wheat, or English muffin), meat (bacon, sausage, ham or hot links) and starch (rice, grits or potatoes). They also have things like fried chicken, smothered pork chops, and salmon croquettes.
Most of the food is standard diner fare and soul food quality. But there are some standouts. First is the biscuit. It’s buttery and savory and there’s no need to add anything else to it (although J puts jam on his). Forget about the other breads, get the damn biscuit. Second is the hot link. It’s incredible. It beats the pants off the DC half smoke, an institution back where we came from. It’s actually spicy!
Finally, is the pie. We’ve had the sweet potato and lemon icebox. They are fabulous. Once again, no pretension on those suckers but the flavor is AMAZING! The certainly earn Lois her title of pie queen. The fruit pies look delicious, but it’s hard to think past the lemon ice box and it’s creamy goodness and the sweet potato’s earthy appeal.
The downside is that they are only open until 4:00pm so no dinner. Also, if you get there after 10:30 am, there will be a wait. But if you do go closer to lunchtime, that opens up their post-church menu that we’ve tried once and have been impressed by.
So if you are visiting J and I, expect us to take you to Lois the Pie Queen. It’s a touch of community, a generous family and whole lot of comfort on the plate.