Face it, many of us look at brunch as a sport — and the restaurants around here know it. How else to explain this year’s local proliferation of playful options like weekday brunch service (as at Namu Gaji) and a late night weekend option (Victory Hall and Parlor)? If you really want to have some fun in that space between lunch and dinner, here’s where to go big and go home (for an immediate nap):

Sweet breakfast pie at Chile Pies and Ice Cream

Chile Pies and Ice Cream debuted weekend Pie Brunch a few months back, and the majority of options are pretty outrageous (fruit pizza, anyone?). But none are as over-the-top as this maple syrup and walnut pie, baked in a bacon-dotted crust and topped with two slabs of glistening brown sugar bacon. (Photo above) Are they kidding?

Breakfast mac at Homeroom

East Bay mac and cheese specialist Homeroom tops a cheddar version with bacon and a fried egg so that it feels socially acceptable to have this comfort staple first thing in the day. Add some hot sauce and it starts to sound like a good hangover cure.

English muffin with sweetbreads at St. Vincent

St. Vincent chef Bill Niles spearheads an impressive in-house bread program and the majority of his menus at this charming wine bar center around bread products. Brunch is particularly interesting with his chewy, fluffy English muffins topped with sweetbreads (thymus gland of a calf), which look like little brains. Add a side of bone marrow buttered toast to put an extra challenge to your arteries. 

Cornflake crusted fried chicken sandwich at Market and Rye

Ryan Scott of Market & Rye likes to serve comforting fare with extra indulgent twists, like his roast beef sandwiches stuffed with Funyons that you can order on the regular menu. You can really go nuts at brunch, though, as exemplified with the use of crushed Corn Flakes to offer a crucial crunch to the fried chicken sandwich.

Carrot pancakes at Verbena

Forget the fact that vegetables and pancakes are not supposed to compute. Verbena's ‘jacks, topped with a pat of floral nasturtium butter, lemon verbena braised blueberries, and a sprig of opal basil, have some kind of mysterious mind-changing powers on that equation. 

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Photo from Chile Pies and Ice Cream