Mama’s in Washington Square; San Francisco

I came across Mama’s by accident. Featured in the Where magazine of my hotel, it was the only one of all the restaurants advertising to catch my eye. I looked it up and decided right then that Mama’s would be the place for my first meal in San Francisco.

We got there around 8:30 to try and beat the crowd I read about, but we failed. We had an estimated 40 minute wait ahead of us. I contemplated leaving but a local (or so he called himself) told us we desperately needed to stick it out. The certificate plastered on the window beside the line honoring with the “Great Egg Idea Menu Items” award given by California Egg Commissions convinced me to stay.

Mama’s is a small spot on the corner of Filbert and Stockton with a unique service model. When your wait outside is over, you head inside to wait in another line, which gives you a front row seat to an open kitchen while you wait to order and pay for your food. This helps to build excitement as you watch food being prepared whose identical cousin you may be eating. It takes about three minutes to find a table after you pay and your food comes out within ten minutes of sitting down. It’s smart, fun to watch and, apparently, it works.

The amazingly helpful and patient staff delivered our complete order little by little. Orange juice? Check. Coffee? Check. Four plates for the three of us? Check.

Yes, we’re guilty. We each ordered a plate then got a fourth plate of pancakes to share. You will never, ever know how hard it is to pick between a stack of pancakes and a monte cristo sandwich until you’re there. There was no way to choose, especially since I had already left behind the fantasy of having a dungeness crab omelette and Mama’s french toast sampler.

The Monte Cristo is a roasted turkey breast, honey baked ham, cheddar and gruyere cheese, battered and egg and grilled served with homemade jam. I probably would have never known what I missed out on if I hadn’t ordered this plate, but a part of me wants to believe I would have left Mama’s with a feeling of regret. Therefore, I openly congratulate myself on the best food related decision I ever made.

All you need to know about the buttermilk pancakes with fresh season berries is they were fluffy, fresh, and comforting, just the way I aspire my pancakes to be.

I love San Francisco too much to spend two plus hours waiting in line to eat, but I would certainly make sure I’m up by 7am to be first in line to visit Mama’s.

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