Monday, July 20, 2020

SMA's New Restaurant Opening: Mama Mia

Back in 1975, Jose Luna and his adventurous partner, French born architect and artist, Berta, came to SMA and bought a restaurant. Today, some 45 years later, Mama Mia’s is an institution; one of the oldest and most popular tourist restaurants in SMA.

It’s history is fascinating, with countless stories of celebrated and not-so-famous celebrities dropping in, along with a continuous flow of customers (most of them tourists), gifted musicians and the staff; many who have dedicated their life to nurturing this place in order to make it genuine. It’s connected all of us who are a part of its narrative to the Luna family and to San Miguel. It’s also forged marriages, life-long friendships and pulled people back to SMA who could not escape the magic.

I’ve been part of the Mama Mia family for three years now; going there every week for Margaritas and to check up on one of our favorite bartenders: hijo and student, Adalberto Garcia Moreno (Adal), who playfully rings the bell each week to announce our arrival. We come for our SMA family; not by blood but by acceptance - another lineage that Mama Mia’s created.

In my life, there are restaurants that I’m emotionally attached to; Mama Mia’s is one of them...

I first met their former chef, Miguel Gallegos, in June of 2017, when I was doing a story on new chefs in SMA and I was eager to finally meet him, already a legend in the kitchens of SMA. The mission he took on when he was hired was to make Mama Mia’s “more organic”, incorporating the food from their farm, Rancho Luna, located behind the Sanctuary at Atotonilco. When he left, Mama Mia’s was using much of its homegrown produce in their dishes; raising hens and chickens, making their own bread, pasta, and bacon and growing all of the grain for their private label beer, Hechicera. Mission accomplished; chapter closed…

I was fortunate this past week to meet up with the owners of Mama Mia, Jose Luna and partner, Berta, in what will be the new Mama Mia’s on Hernández Macías #91 and get a sneak peek. The home dates back to the 16th century. The Luna family has been personally involved in the design of the project; Berta is the architect. Jose Luna says through his writings that he can feel the history every time he walks in the door. 

The house is rumored to have been owned by Dr. Ignacio Hernández Macías, for whom the street is named. The staff is working hard for an August opening; all of them involved in the renovation.

Prepare yourself because the new Mama Mia’s is about to steal your heart; it’s DROP DEAD GORGEOUS! The property is filled with natural wonders: enchanting light showcasing the colors of Mexico, ruins they’re still trying to decide what to do with (a choice table or perhaps another bar); an inviting fire-pit, organic gardens planted with herbs and other flora, multiple levels of dining rooms, a stage for the musicians, a hand-built pizza oven, a contemporary kitchen, a state-of-the-art Trejo coffee roaster you can sync to a laptop for perfect roasting every time and a rooftop, which will open at a later date; so much space in fact that social distancing is already part of the plan.

Although the space is large, Mama Mia somehow manages to make it feel intimate; just like being home. I’ve already claimed my stool at the bar; daydreaming of nursing the foam off a glass of Hechicera and taking a memorable, first sip of Adal’s legendary Margaritas. Happy hours are nontraditional. You know Adal’s Margaritas mean business when you can only drink one. What’s new coming out of the kitchen will be our next report.

Jose Luna and Berta’s love letter to SMA was written back in 1975 and it’s about to be rewritten again. Sleeping beauty, as Jose Luna calls it, will awaken soon. Prepare yourself for what will truly be one of the most surprising and remarkable openings in SMA. We didn’t want to give anything away in the pictures; she’s the one beauty you just have to see for yourself.

Buen Provecho!