Yuval Kovler


By Tilde Herrera

When many breakfast joints were drowning their French toast in syrup, Frances “Mama” Sanchez used only the kind of fresh fruit and top-shelf ingredients that we now take for granted. Nearly as legendary as the long lines that have snaked out of this North Beach institution for more than 50 years, the colossal breakfasts inspired regular visits back in the day from Julia Child and James Beard.

the scene

On the weekends, a United Nations of accents—some from your hometown in the Midwest—may greet you, but during the week, you and your pancake will have a little QT. Either way, it’s all part of the fun.

side dish

at your service
If you’re lucky, Mama’s grandson Nick will be manning the front door, where he’ll welcome you like family and give you all the 411 you need, complete with favorite dishes and a history lesson.

take a tip
Tourists may be willing to spend two hours in line at Mama’s—hey, they’re on vacation, right?—but you can avoid this particular stage of purgatory by arriving before the restaurant opens.



Tue–Sun 8 AM–3 PM
Closed Mondays

price range

$6.50 (silver dollar pancakes) to $12.95 (smoked salmon benedict)