Friday Food Porn: Elvis Will Never Leave This Building

Photo courtesy Peter Mumford

Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Santa, Mohamed Ali, cacti, Mexican banditos--it's all there. And that's just one small corner of Mama's Mexican Kitchen, one little slice of the place, a corner near the bathrooms, that is indicative of the crazy-weird schizophrenic design style of the historic Mexican joint that has survived smack in the middle of downtown Seattle for nearly 40 years, but hardly its extent.

"To sit there is to see the whole history of Mama's bloom around you like an archaeologist exploring the tomb of some Mayan king obsessed with skulls and Elvis and neon beer signs.The blue plaster walls are covered with scrawled Bic-pen graffiti; the high, curving wood of the booth's frame with names and dates written in Sharpie or literally gouged into the finish. And the seat backs on either side are gray with decades' worth of furtive scratching--more names and more dates, hasty pictures of eyeballs and skulls and declarations of love."

That's from this week's review of Mama's--a piece inspired by the fact that we've got the 25th annual Best of Seattle issue on the stands (and online) right now and, 25 years ago, back when we did our first Best of Seattle, Mama's was the place that took home the Readers' Poll prize for Seattle's best Mexican restaurant.

And to go along with it, we have another one of Peter Mumford's slideshows, detailing all the historic oddness of the space and cheese-cloaked goodness of the Southern California-style Mexican cuisine.

So check it out, won't you? Read about the history, check out the snaps of the huevos rancheros and cute waitresses, then get down there yourself for a taste of Seattle's edible history, because not only did Mama's score as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city back in the '80s, but when it opened in 1974, it was among the first--the place that introduced the Emerald City to burritos, enchiladas and tacos with a side of Presley.

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