sSince 1993, the smiling face of the cartoon Mama Margie has welcomed San Antonians looking for a quick bite to start their day or boisterous after-hours crowds in need of comfort food to end the night. The 89 cent bean and cheese plates from the early 2000s were like a “welcome home” sign on Military Drive and the free chips and salsa feeling is like a token push from the grandma who never thinks you’ve had enough had food. Being around the real Mama Margie, real name Margarita Abonce, also feels very much like home.
Yes, she is real. The “Mama Margie” caricatures have been a staple of San Antonio iconography, inspiring costumes and merchandise since the 1990s. While the logo looks a lot like Abonce, it falls short of capturing the vivacious, 76-year-old sitting in front of me, sparkly and smiling in her Sunday outfit. Her earrings wave back and forth highlighting each of her smiles, and there are many when she introduces me to her daughter Claudia Silva and granddaughter Jocelyn Silva. Although her outfit is the opposite of the work clothes she wears in the logo, her red lipstick smile matches it.