Rise and shine: Where to find an early breakfast in Berkeley

Photo of Brewed Awakening cafe
Hsi-Min Chan/Staff

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I’m a huge breakfast person: I always feel recharged and ready for the day after a good breakfast. In fact, when I go to bed at night, I’ve already planned out what I’m going to have for breakfast the next day. 

As you can probably imagine, this deep enthusiasm for my morning meals means I’m hardly fond of the dining halls’ brunch on weekends. Like, hello? How exactly do you expect me to wait until 10 in the morning for my first meal?

After trying and failing to acclimate to brunch culture, I realized I had to find some alternatives for those mornings where my hunger became just uncontrollable. Here is a list of locations in Berkeley for the next time you wake up early and are filled with a raging hunger.


Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

My go-to order: Almond butter loaded toast

I don’t think I need to introduce this place — we all know about the massive portions, the deliciously fresh salads and the jam-packed sandwiches. But what a lot of people sometimes forget about is its super-diverse selection of breakfasts. The almond butter toast — my personal favorite — is everything but your regular almond butter toast. It’s loaded with banana, honey, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cinnamon and other goodies. It also has a variety of other toasts to choose from, as well as burritos and pastries. As a breakfast enthusiast, I can be picky, but this place meets all my criteria!

Brewed Awakening

Hours: Weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

My go-to order: Hummus toast

This spot is perfect for your next study day. Although it’s more of a coffee shop, there’s a decent selection of basic breakfast items, like bagels and pastries. The setting is perfect for getting work done, and you’re definitely paying for the atmosphere. If you live on the south side of campus, it can definitely be a bit of a walk. Despite this, I enjoy spending my Sunday mornings walking across the peaceful and quiet campus.

Romeo’s Coffee

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

My go-to: Avocado toast, with poached egg

I’m not sure how, but I didn’t know this place existed until the very end of my first semester even though it’s literally a five-minute walk from my dorm. Tucked away in Telegraph Avenue, Romeo’s has a wide array of coffees for those of you who are fans of very extravagant, sugar-induced drinks. I personally stick to my usual latte and often spend a few hours in the morning making use of the lounge-like seating and quality lighting.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Hours: Weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

My go-to: Almond butter & jam toast 

I like to think of Blue Bottle as my emergency breakfast spot for the days that I’m too hungry to even wait until 8 a.m. It’s happened before: I’ve woken up at 6 a.m. on a Sunday. Yes, I know I’m strange. On these mornings, I wait until it’s light out before embarking on my walk through campus and towards Blue Bottle. When I get there around 7:30 a.m., I usually find myself being the only person under 40, but I don’t really mind it at all.

The Sunny Side Café

Hours: Weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

My go-to: Ham and mushroom omelette

This place is right outside the edge of campus and is perfect if you’re planning to go to a library or a class immediately afterward. It’s a charming little restaurant with really good food and pretty quick service if you go during the less busy hours.

Baker & Commons 

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

My go-to: Poached eggs & roasted potatoes 

I’ve been here a couple of times on a Sunday morning — either with friends or by myself — when I’m looking for a cute breakfast spot. The meals are definitely Instagram-worthy, the coffee is high quality and the place always has tons of families walking in and out. This one is the farthest from campus on my list, and you’ll have to take the bus to get there. Nonetheless, this is the place to go to if you’re looking to treat yourself. Make sure you don’t leave without trying the famous breakfast potatoes.

Long story short, if you’re not a fan of brunch on weekends, and you’re more of an early breakfast person: Don’t panic. Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there for people like us!

Contact Salma Sarkis at [email protected].