Owner Vaidas Sukys opened the restaurant in 2013. “The are many reasons for my inspiration to open a Lithuanian restaurant and the main one is that the Bay Area is so colorful and has all kinds of restaurants, but it was missing a real Lithuanian one” he says. “Now, we are like an ambassador of Lithuanian cuisine.”
Like most food found through Eastern Europe, Lithuania’s specialties are hearty, filling, and represent the best of the country’s natural food sources. Some of the favorites on Mama Papa Lithuania’s menu include the borscht with mushroom, the traditional red beet soup served with a dollop of sour cream, deep fried pierogies (dumplings filled with melted cheese and mushrooms) and stuffed cabbage rolls, which contain seasoned ground pork, rice, and a homemade tomato sauce.
The latter is served with boiled potatoes, dill pickles and marinated pickled garlic in chili pepper. Potato pancakes with or without meat, homemade sausages, and Lithuanian-style chicken goulash are also sure to satisfy and delight.
The restaurant’s atmosphere is meant to reflect the rustic feeling of Sukys’ native country as well as the food. The tables and chairs are made of heavy reclaimed redwood and oak, and the building features exposed wooden beams, brick walls, and a majestic metal chandelier. Outside the restaurant sits a beer garden surrounded by flowers, fruit treats, and nautical-inspired touches. Here, guests can relax and enjoy Lithuanian beer served with fried garlic black bread, and watch a soccer game during the World Cup competition.
One of the more unique offerings on the menu is the amber tea, which is actually prepared using real amber, a hard translucent fossilized resin that the Baltic area is known for and which is often worn as jewelry.
“According to ancient Baltic tribes, which Lithuanians derive from, amber is a very powerful stone and it has healing properties that can protect your stomach from inflammation and other benefits,” explains Sukys. “Amber tea is a great way to get necessary minerals via hot water. Also, it can be enhanced with real local bay area honey if someone likes sweeter drinks. Besides minerals there is solar energy trapped inside amber and that is also passed via hot water while enjoying amber tea.”
Be sure to save room for dessert. A favorite among customers is the restaurant’s medutis, a beautifully layered, delicate honey cake with a tangy sour cream filling that is coated with chocolate. You can then purchase and take home another cake and more from the restaurant’s bakery. With its delicious ethnic comfort foot and cozy interior, Mama Papa Lithuania makes for a delightful way to experience another country without the cost of a plane ticket.