Mama’s on Washington Square

Review by: Roadfood Team

Mama’s On Washington Square has been a North Beach institution for almost 50 years. Open only for breakfast and lunch, its specialties include Dungeness crab eggs Benedict, apple-yogurt French toast, and terrific coffee cakes.

When I first got to this corner breakfast haven on Washington Square, the couple in front of me took a look at the long line ahead, turned and said, “Is it worth the wait?” Now this was a moral dilemma. As much as I wanted to say, “No,” and move up in the seemingly immovable line, I admitted it was, deciding it would be unethical to deprive anybody the wonders within just to save five minutes.

On the weekend, bring a paper, because you will wait…for the right to stand in another line. Once you’re allowed through the front door, you’re paraded past the sizzling grill and bustling prep counter, where you’ll see bowls of the freshest Bay Area ingredients: phenomenal breads, garden fresh vegetables, shrimp, lump crab meat, and stacks of luscious coffee cakes. By the time you get to the register to place your order, a table should be ready.

Of course none of this talk of lines should faze a true Roadfooder. Especially considering this North Beach institution can cook no wrong.

What should I eat at Mama’s On Washington Square?

Start out with a glass of fresh squeezed O.J. or a coffee drink to grease the gullet. Then on to the food, which gets to your table quick. This is hearty stuff, so expect to leave full. But oh so pleasantly.

It’s hard to say Mama’s has a specialty, but the exotic French toasts could qualify. The orange-cranberry-walnut French toast topped with a mix of fresh berries was the topper, but banana-nut, chocolate cinnamon, Kugelpuph with cinnamon swirled brioche and apple pan, made from a baguette, piled with apples and butter-lemon sauce are serious contenders. The thick but fluffy buttermilk pancakes are also world class. And don’t miss the container of homemade red raspberry jam, terrific on anything.

Egg dishes are popular as well. There are several varieties of fluffy omelettes and a number of poached egg preparations, including crab benedict. And there’s no fall-off with the sides. Hash-browned redskin potato chunks are mixed with onions and grilled to perfection. For a meat, choose a big slab of lean char-grilled ham, succulent links of sausage, or thick bacon.

For dessert, grab one of the moist, unbelievably delicious coffee cakes from by the register. The edge would have to go to blueberry, seemingly half berries, topped with a thick crust of succulent crumbs. Chocolate, fudge, apple and the misnamed “plain” are similarly spectacular. Mama’s is unbelievably good, one of the great pleasures in a great city.

Please note: Closed Mondays.

*original post by Josh L.*

What To Eat

Grilled ham

Hash-browned redskin potatoes

Buttermilk pancakes

Cranberry-Orange-Walnut French Toast

Blueberry coffee cake

Chocolate Crumb Coffee Cake

Vegetarian Benedict

French Toast Sampler

Pan Dore


Mama’s on Washington Square Recipes


What do you think of Mama’s on Washington Square?

One Response to “Mama’s on Washington Square”

Alan Sasai

May 12th, 2009

Mama’s On Washington Square has been a North Beach institution for almost 50 years. Open only for breakfast and lunch, it has a never-ending line of people out front waiting to get in. We arrived on a weekday morning to find a dozen people out front, a dozen people in line when we sat down to eat, and a dozen people outside when we left. Don’t be deterred, the food here is absolutely worth the wait.

Mama’s is probably best known for their eggs Benedict, particularly the Dungeness crab version, which many people were having that morning. Since we were planning on a seafood dinner that night we decided on regular breakfast fare, saving those crab Benedicts for another visit.

One breakfast consisted of a generous ham steak, eggs, and home fried potatoes with sourdough toast. The ham was hot and smokey, the eggs perfectly cooked, and the potatoes golden and crispy outside, soft and tender inside. The sourdough toast with jam was crunchy and satisfying. The second plate was an apple yogurt French toast dipped in egg whites and served with fresh berries. For a healthy version of French toast this was rich tasting and amazingly delicious. With hot coffee it was the perfect start for the day.

Mama’s is not the kind of place for a quick bite to eat; don’t visit if you are in a hurry. But if you have the time for a delicious, filling breakfast, this is the place to go in the North Beach area.


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