Heavenly brunch spot in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood - I love love brunch, so much so that I could eat brunch food all day long and not get bored of it.
Tucked away on the north east corner of Washington Square Park is a teeny spot of pure heaven - Mama's. It is my favorite brunch place in all of San Francisco. With large windows overlooking the park and soft Provencal decorations, Mama's is pleasing to the eye... and to the tastebuds.
If you like french toast, you must try theirs! They make every kind of french toast imaginable to man! Well not really... BUT they have 6 different kinds (not bad huh?), all made with freshly baked bread (for example, the banana nut french toast isn't just bread with bananas and nuts sprinkled on top, it's made with banana nut bread). On some days, they even offer a french toast sampler, which has three different kinds of french toast goodness. Having tried them all, my favorites are the brioche, swedish cinnamon, fat-free apple yogurt cinnamon, and apple pan dore... oh wait that's almost all of them... oops! They are even better when topped with a large spoonful of fresh berries - perfect!
Mama's also make really fluffy omelettes, with fresh ingredients mixed in. The northern Italian and California omelettes are excellent. Very tasty and light, with nicely seasoned and part-crispy home fries and toast on the side (which you can slather their homemade jam on - it is seriously orgasmic. I even put it on my french toast).
If you think you may have extra room, try one of their crumb cakes - the blueberry, apple, and carrot ones are really good!
For the non-breakfast inclined, Mama's offers a good variety of sandwiches and salads between 11 and 3 (that's when they close). Their Monte Cristo sandwich (ham, turkey, swiss sandwich dipped in egg batter french-toast style, grilled, and served with jam), is amazing.
The food comes shortly after you order, and the wait staff is very kind and always does a great job keeping the water glasses full.
A few things I don't like about the place:
1. They don't take credit cards (yeah, boo), so please remember to bring cash. And the little plants on the table aren't just for decoration - that's where you leave the tip.
2. The food is so good that you will wish they had a nap room in the back to help you recover from your impending food coma. They don't.
3. Sure, the lines are long (usually an hour wait) but what good breakfast joint doesn't? Get there early or get there late; if you have to come during peak time, try to pick a weird time, like 10:41 or something. Sometimes the line gets significantly longer at the hour and half past hour marks.
If you're in line and feeling the hunger pangs, there's a very nondescript bakery across the street called Liguria (it often looks like there is no activity going on in there). They make the best pizza foccacia bread ever (they often sell out by noon though). And, there are plenty of coffee places nearby.
Plus, you never know who you might run into while waiting at Mama's. We once befriended Rob Schneider there and had a whole conversation about hats and burritos!