Why I Ate 78 Breakfasts at 78 Different Places Last Year

A coffee cup I drew

A coffee cup I drew

I hereby declare that I have done it. For one year (from 1.11.2013 – 1.17.2014), I ate breakfast at a different Bay Area restaurant every Friday before work and on some weekends. I achieved both my written goal of eating breakfast at a different place every Friday and my actual goal of simply eating tons and tons of breakfast.

I went to the furthest reaches of San Francisco and the Bay Area, from the Marina to Glen Park, from Santa Rosa to Santa Clara. I traveled 441.7 miles by bus, car and train to 78 different places of breakfast-eating, consuming $1258 dollars worth of food, 131 eggs, 90 slices of bacon, 98 pancakes, and 234 cups of coffee. I also drew one coffee cup.

This is all well and good. I managed to spend a lot of money and eat many hash browns with my butt in many different styles of chairs and booths, but so what? Why did I do this? Why did I wake up so early and go so far, not even searching for the best food or service? Why did I spend so many hours and dollars on this project and persevere even towards the end when I’d eaten my breakfast passion into the dust (for the time being) and felt I’d seen everything and that I just wanted to sleep in for once.

It wasn’t just a meal, or just a restaurant. Breakfast for me was outer space. It was my Sahara and my Antarctica and the Wild West, the region I was destined to explore and chronicle. 

Pork Store Cafe BiscuitsAnd I wanted to find breakfast, to seek it in its natural habitat, to consume and know it inside and out and to know its people. From the crust of a sourdough loaf to the tenderness of a scrambled egg and the crisp release of grease that comes from biting into a perfectly cooked hash brown.

I wanted to make a portrait of a ritual and to examine it until I knew its every detail and their meanings, to paint a complete picture of breakfast, to tell its entire story and not miss a thing, to climb hills and descend into valleys, to walk on darkened doorsteps and to step into empty places, to look into the faces of strangers and try to place them, to ask of them to serve me food in exchange for money and some of my time and for some of my thoughts and skin cells and saliva left on the used silverware.

But most of all, I set out to eat, to consume mountains of hashbrowns and toast and eggs, stacks of pancakes, whole sticks of butter and gallons of syrup. I wanted to explore using my senses and let my brain take a back seat and just shut up for a second.

Friday morning was mine and it was special. Every morning that I got to work with my stomach full of breakfast and another journey under my belt, I’d squeezed a little extra life into my day. It was my secret, that before I started doing work for anyone else, I’d done something for me and my goals. I wanted adventure, and that’s why I did it and have lived to tell the tale. What’s next? I don’t know. But it’s gonna be epic.

By the way, this is not the last you’ve heard of this. There is much, much more breakfast to be served.

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23 thoughts on “Why I Ate 78 Breakfasts at 78 Different Places Last Year

  1. What a great project! Well done! And, yes, I need to have my breakfast now.

  2. […] ate breakfast at 78 different places in the Bay Area last year.* I’ve written about the best of them and the worst of them, but there are some […]

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  5. Addie says:

    Brava! *applause*

  6. craigruark says:

    It would be a gas if you had a recorded interview with every wait person about the food you ordered and the place they worked. Of course a 78 page “breakfast table book” would be awesome.

  7. Zack says:

    Did you eat a lot of kreples? What about grits?

  8. Cathryn says:

    I love this, because breakfast/brunch food is my very favourite. Are you going to share the best places? I would really die for a blogpost about that! My fave breakfast place is Crepes on Cole (Cole St). I hope you went there and liked it.

  9. tomwisk says:

    Em, somebody just had to do it. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. Now try making it for yourself. It’s infinitely better.

  10. tedstrutz says:

    What a noble quest! And was one of those breakfasts at the BV??? I will hound you till you do… and don’t try to fool me.

  11. I would very much like to hear the good, the bad and the combinations you never thought possible!

  12. tom says:

    All this because McDonald’s doesn’t deliver? 🙂

  13. I love breakfast like no other. It makes you feel like everything is going to be all right.

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