Mama’s San Francisco – Is It Worth the Hype?

The exterior sign at Mama's San Francisco

Mama’s San Francisco – Is It Worth the Hype?

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I live down the street from the oh-so-famous San Francisco tourist brunch spot, Mama’s on Washington Square. In order for me to go pretty much anywhere in the city before 3 pm, I have to walk by Mama’s and the line of tourists waiting to dine there. Now I’ve lived in my apartment for almost 10 years, that’s 10 years of me watching people waiting in line for mediocre food and me fighting every urge in my body to provide everyone in line with a list of better spots to dine at in San Francisco.

Last week I was documenting the ridiculous line on my Instagram stories when a DM came in asking me when was the last time I dined there. I had to stop and really think about it…it has been YEARS and I honestly couldn’t even remember what I ordered. This follower encouraged me to go there, order the Monte Cristo and report back.

I accepted the challenge and rallied three friends to meet me there on Tuesday morning. We agreed to meet at 10:30 to get in the ridiculous line and wait with the tourists…well the joke was on us, my friend Des was the first to get there and THERE WAS NO LINE! Des texted me to tell me about the line and I was SHOCKED. I was down the street at the ATM getting cash because Mama’s is cash or debit card only and quickly ran up the hill to meet our group. By the time I got there, our group was being ushered into the line to order inside. That’s right. On a normal day, you have to wait in two lines to get food at Mama’s! We ordered as a team to make sure that we covered all the menu highlights at the front and then headed to the back to the closest table for four.

A sign from Mama's on Washington Square

What We Ordered

Old fashioned buttermilk pancakes (3) served with fresh seasonal berries

(2) Monte Cristo Sandwiches: roasted turkey breast, honey baked ham, sharp cheddar, and gruyere cheese. The sandwich is cooked on the griddle and served with Mama’s homemade jam.

Dungeness Crab Cake Benedict: two poached eggs served on a toasted English muffin with hollandaise sauce and Mama’s grilled potatoes.

Breakfast Sandwich

Old Fashioned Crumb Cake

3 Fresh-Squeezed Mimosas

1 Uncle Cy’s Spicy Mary: hearty Soju and a heartier Secret Bloody Mary Mix.

Mimosas and a soju Bloody Mary at Mama's on Washington Square

Coffee cake at Mama's on Washington Square

On the table at Mama's San Francisco

MamaCakes, Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes Served with Fresh Seasonal Berry Toppings at Mama's on Washington Square

Fashion and food blogger KatWalkSF at Mama's San Francisco with the monte cristo and mimosa

The Monte Cristo sandwich at Mama's on Washington Square

A bite of the famous Monte Cristo sandwich at Mama's San Francisco

Leftovers from the Monte Cristo at Mama's San Francisco

Mama's Grilled Potatoes dipped in jam

The Monte Cristo at Mama's San Francisco dipped in jam

MamaCakes, Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes Served with Fresh Seasonal Berry Toppings at Mama's San Francisco

The Final Review – Was it Worth the Hype?

Before we get to our final thoughts of Mama’s San Francisco…

I hit up the Mama’s San Francisco yelp page to check out some recent reviews and see if any locals shared the same sentiment as me and found my review from 1/3/2010:


So I have only been here once and frankly, I just don’t get all the hype. After waiting in two ridiculous lines for god knows how long, I pretty much lost my appetite and just wanted to sit. The whole layout of this place kills me. It is like let’s see how pissed of we can make you before we feed you.
I had the shrimp Benedict and the hollandaise sauce did not mix well with the fresh shrimp. I love a good breakfast spot but this place is just OK.

Well, my friends almost nine years later my feelings towards Mama’s are EXACTLY the same. While I didn’t have to wait in a long line this visit I still left unimpressed and hungry. I ordered the Monte Cristo based on reviews and a poll I took on my Instagram stories. According to Mama’s website, the Monte Cristo has roasted turkey breast, honey baked ham, sharp cheddar, and gruyere cheese in it. The bread to meat and cheese ratio was WAY off and if I didn’t look on their website I would have had NO idea what was actually in my sandwich. The sandwich was bland and I barely ate half of it.

The Monte Cristo was served with Mama’s homemade jam, the real MVP of our meal. I honestly would have been way more satisfied just ordering two pieces of sourdough toast with their jam and calling it a day. If you scroll back up to the photos you can see that we started to just dip everything in the homemade jam. Potatoes in the jam. Monte Cristo in the jam. EVERYTHING in the jam. In a perfect world, I would just order their homemade jam to go, buy some fresh focaccia from Liguria Bakery across the street and sit in Washington Square Park alone, away from the line.

Now I did not dine alone and before we left I made everyone go around the table and share their highs and lows from the meal. My friend Ivan said the best part of the meal was dining with his friends, the crumb cake and the jam. My friend Des ordered the Dungeness Crab Cake Benedict and did not like it. The hollandaise was bland and the English muffin was hard. Both Des and Ivan thought that the Monte Cristo was disappointing and agreed that it felt like wasted empty calories. My friend Syd did not enjoy her Soju Bloody Mary and would only come back for a cup of coffee and the crumb cake.

We all agreed that this is a true tourist trap and we would never come back!

If you are visiting San Francisco and want to have a really amazing brunch experience ->

Get out of the line at Mama’s and get in line at these brunch spots in San Francisco


Brenda’s French Soul Food

Dottie’s True Blue Cafe

Kitchen Story

Swan Oyster Depot


Art’s Cafe

More San Francisco eats here + here.

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