Compromise is not one of my strong suits, especially where food is involved. We had four days in San Francisco, and my list of restaurants to try would’ve taken at least a full week, so I was apprehensive when our friends mentioned the near-legendary breakfast joint Mama’s. The Carnivore was instantly sold, though, and as all of the places I wanted to visit were for lunch and dinner, I figured we could squeeze it in.
I was not counting on a monumental line at 10:00 a.m. on a Friday, nor on such massive portion sizes that eating would almost be ruled out for the rest of the day—lunch was certainly off the table.
After half an hour on line, the need for caffeine became too much to handle; I took a walk down the block and found Café Divine.
I entered in search of coffee, but I couldn’t resist the fresh-baked cinnamon rolls—really, the whole place smelled so utterly delicious that I was willing to throw in the towel and relocate, but the Carnivore would have none of it.
We finally made it in the front door of Mama’s an hour or so later, and, once inside, we realized why it’d taken so long. As you queue up by the counter, you’re not waiting to be seated—you’re waiting to order. Watching the short-order cooks plate everyone else’s meals did nothing to ease my indecision. I wavered until the last possible moment to make a choice.
In the end, it came down to the Dungeness-crab benedict or the Dungeness, brie, and avocado omelet; I went with the omelet, and, at nearly $20, it was the most expensive, decadent egg dish I’ve ever had. A not-small number of crustaceans must’ve given their lives for my breakfast—it was stuffed with so much crab I had to leave some on the plate.
The Carnivore went with a bloody mary (nothing special) and the northern Italian omelet; I had a bite and instantly wanted another. While my crab-and-avocado version was rich and heavy, his was a combination of lively and earthy flavors, fresh basil and tomato offset by mushrooms and pancetta, all wrapped up in a blanket of garlic-jack cheese.
Though a bit touristy—who else has that kind of time to stand on line for breakfast, on a weekday morning, no less?—the food was worth the wait.
(on Washington Square)
1701 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA