Mama’s – feel right at home, despite the long wait

Mama’s on Washington Square – 1701 Stockton St, San Francisco (North Beach).

I had a friend visiting from Sydney who was looking for a great brunch place in SF. We had already tried Foreign Cinema, so a local recommended Mama’s, warning us of the long wait times. I had also seen Mama’s pop up on 7×7’s “7 killer brunch waits that may be shorter this weekend” (here), so thought we couldn’t go wrong. The website explains:

A San Francisco tradition.
Our family has been serving up breakfast on North Beach’s Washington Square Park since Mama and Papa Sanchez first opened their doors over 50 years ago.

Clockwise from top left: Mama’s from Washington Sq, the sign, front door – do not enter until you are told!, the specials as you wait – what a tease

We weren’t disappointed. We arrived at 12noon on a Wednesday, and there was already a line outside the restaurant. We put our name down, and waited in line as we stared at all the food those inside were eating through the viewing window. After about 30 mins, we were allowed in, only to find another line at the counter. The interior is extremely charming, maintained in line with Mama’s original setup. On display are various memorabilia, including the original 1964 menu and a photo of Mama with James Beard.

While we waited at the counter, we salivated at all the fresh ingredients and breads on display – apparently Mama used to serve directly from here to her customers. After another 15 mins, we got to counter and ordered our food and were offered our table – FINALLY!

Clockwise from top left: view of those waiting from the inside (muhaha!), the original Mama’s menu from 1964, cute interior, a framed pic of Mama with James Beard

There were only two of us – and too many things to try. So we decided to order a sweet & savoury and share. What we ate:

  • Dungeness crab benedict on brioche ($21.00): just amazing. I absolutely love eggs benedict, and this version with dungeness crab really hit the spot – the crab was really fresh and did not overwhelm the dish. The hollandaise was really light and the brioche was just right. Super!
  • Swedish Cinnamon w/ Fresh Fruit or Seasonal Berries  ($9.75): also super yummy, the toast was really fluffy and the cinnamon, fresh fruit and maple syrup rounded off the taste.

Clockwise from top left: dungeness crab benedict, cinammon french toast, the selection of breads at the counter, fresh ingredients used to make Mama’s legendary food by the counter

the verdict: 8.5/10 – awesome brunch, but be warned of the long wait, esp on weekends. worth the wait!

don’t forget to order: dungeness crab benedict

to try next time: the huevos racheros – my fave breakfast dish in the US.

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