Mamá Art Cafe is a lone jewel in a concrete jungle. Located in San Francisco’s Excelsior district, the cafe is cloaked among graffiti-riddled storefronts, produce markets, taquerias and bars.
A cafe by day, it transforms into an elegant gallery at night. On any given weekday, soothing sounds of classical music fill the cafe, but Saturday’s live musical shows and artist appearances have become the talk of the neighborhood.
On Sunday, the cafe is celebrating its sixth year in business with a gathering featuring Ana Nitmar singing music from Guatemala as well as groups performing Bolivian folkloric music and Mexican boleros.
Festivities also include an unveiling of a new mural created by Anne Austin Pearce and Lori Bury under the direction of Marta Ayala, whose work featuring women of the world engaged in dance also graces the gallery walls.
Paulo Cabezas, an El Salvadorean-born performance artist, is the proprietor of the cafe, which he describes as a magical place.
“Those who enter become captivated by its quiet charm,” he says.
Cabezas says the cafe is named after what he calls the “nucleus” of his family — his grandmother, mother and aunts. He says, “In my experience, the women of my family are amazing, they’ve held the family together.”
Cruzita Cabezas, his mother, greets most customers by their first name; she, Maria and Vannia — Paulo calls them “the women of the cafe” — have forged a strong bond in the community, as the cafe celebrates family, friends, art and great coffee and food.
The cafe considers itself a green establishment. Many items on the menu are prepared with fruits and vegetables grown in a garden in the cafe’s backyard. Among favorites are seven delicious signature coffee brands, and the amazing “egg-everything” bagel.
IF YOU GO
The Mamá Festival
Where: Mamá Art Cafe, 4754 Mission St., San Francisco
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: Admission is free
Contact: (415) 586-8453, www.mamasf.com