Where to Take Mom

Ana Mandara
Get ready: Special meals are about to be cooked up in SF restaurant kitchens on Sunday. If you don't feel like dining amongst obvious mother-worshippers, or paying the extra freight a prix-fixe carries (even a well-thought-out and well-prepared one), we find that taking the whole family for Chinese works out very well. We might even bring Mom take-out -- and set the table and do the dishes afterwards ourselves!

In Ghirardelli Square, Ana Mandara is offering a $28 prix-fixe brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a $60 four-course prix-fixe dinner from 3 to 9 p.m., in its Hollywood-worthy Vietnamese setting. Exotic dinner choices include spice-rubbed Wagyu steak with kimchee and yucca gnocchi, steamed seabass with lily flowers, and glazed Mekong Delta prawns with corn cake and Asian pears. Executive chef Khai Duong recently led a culinary trip to Vietnam (read his blog here), and all moms will receive a complimentary gift that Duong brought back from Vietnam.

Aqua, the posh downtown fish house, is doing a special and alluring four-course prix-fixe lunch, heavy on the seafood (including a raw bar, with prawns, mussels, oysters, clams, and tuna tartare), for $80, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Two choices per course, after an amuse-bouche: hamachi carpaccio or chilled pea soup; brioche "toad in the hole" or Dungeness crab eggs benedict; poached halibut or filet mignon; and then almond cake with vanilla ice cream and cherry sorbet or elderflower mousse with rhubarb and yogurt sorbet. Whew.

The lovely Mission-area Bar Bambino (with its snug, charming patio) offers a three-course Italianate spring-themed Mother's Day brunch (tempting choices include crespelle di frutta, a crepe with fresh fruit; spring vegetable torta with parmesan; and grilled swordfish marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic, and oregano) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., for $45 a person. 

Usually only open from 5:30 p.m. until the late hour of 1 a.m. nightly, Cafe Maritime in the Marina is doing a special three-course brunch for $33.

Both Dosas (the new large location on Fillmore and the cozier original one on Valencia) will treat mom to a free mimosa, which she can sip while enjoying Indian specialties from their regular enticing menu, as well as special dishes created for Mother's Day, including strawberry uttapam, egg puriya dosa, and such drinks as a curry Bloody Mary and an elderflower mimosa. Dosa is a perfect spot for vegetarian and vegan moms.

In Presidio Heights, Garibaldi's three-course and many-multiple-choices brunch ($35 a person) includes such dishes as chilled asparagus soup or Dungeness crab Louis to start, chilaquiles or glazed Kurobata ham steak with eggs to follow, and a chocolate budino or seasonal sorbets for a sweet finish.

Gary Danko is offering its usual award-winning multi-choice prix-fixe menus ($66 for 3 courses, $83 for four, $98 for five), but in addition, he's gifting Mom with roses, chocolates, and, as you leave, a cake for tomorrow's breakfast. What a guy.

One of our favorite spots for dining on non-holidays is the Mission Beach Cafe, with its fresh seasonal cooking. For Mother's Day, they've extended their Sunday brunch by an hour (from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., instead of closing at 2:30), and, exceptionally, they're open for dinner that night, too, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. And moms get a free piece of cake!

On Sundays, Nettie's Crab Shack, in Cow Hollow, does a family-style clambake for $35 a person that includes salad, mussels and clams, crawfish, whole prawns, boiled potatoes, and Whoopie pies for dessert. Reserve a spot on the front deck and watch visitors to Union Street stroll by.

Rather than bring her up a tray for breakfast in bed, bring Mom to Supperclub and she can have dinner in bed -- for free, if she brings in a baby photo of you! (Companions pay the full $55-for-a-surprise-four-course-menu freight. And, no, moms cannot dine alone.) Entertainment abounds: performance art, and constant aural and visual stimulation, courtesy of a DJ and a VJ. Moms will probably want to crawl back into bed afterwards, but then as Satchel Paige said, the social ramble ain't restful.

Downtown's Urban Tavern offers a buffet-style brunch (items ranging from Caesar salad to lamb chops) from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ($39.50 for adults, $19.75 for children 5 -- 12, children under 5 eat free), and a special three-course prix-fixe ($29.95 per person, with an optional wine pairing for $19.50). Included: a gift for mom and five hours of free parking -- Mom could shop in Union Square until she drops.

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