Restaurant Reviews

Gracias Madre

October 5, 2015
The Shut-Up-and-Give-it-to-Me-Quick Version:

This restaurant has the power to turn me vegan, period.
(For my SF readers, although I haven’t been to the Mission location I know it is owned by the same people – hopefully it’s just as good)

The I-Like-to-be-Wrapped-Up-in-All-the-Details Version:I was really skeptical about Gracias Madre because, let’s be honest, it’s VEGAN Mexican food.Does that even make sense to you? All I think about when I think Mexican food is beef, chicken, sour cream, cheese – and, I would know, I’m half Mexican. Vegan Mexican food goes against everything I know. This can’t be right and isn’t for me (mental thoughts). Enter Gracias Madre. I was curious about it and had heard great things about their cocktails, which, by the way, are also vegan and organic. So I decided to go earlier this month when I was with Dennis in LA. I figured my mom, Dennis and I could go for drinks and check out the menu. We got there and I was totally surprised – super cute, huge location on Melrose. From the outside you would never guess there was that much space inside. The entrance isn’t loud or overstated. When you walk inside is has the minimalist grey and white feel that a lot of restaurants are adopting. Their indoor area can get pretty loud, but it’s nice because their set up allows for a lot of natural light. We chose outside and even though temperatures were nearing 90 degrees, it was pleasant and very laid back. They have tables, benches and cushioned booths. We chose the latter and enjoyed the shade and great service. Our waitress was wonderful; she was genuinely excited about the menu and knew exactly what she liked and why. I love when I can trust their opinion. We walked in without reservation around 3 pm on a Saturday and although we were seated right away, it was pretty full. They have seats that can accommodate larger groups as well!

Mon – Fri  11 am – 11 pm
Sat – Sun  10 am – 11 pm
Weekend Brunch  10 am – 3 pm
Weekday Lunch     11 am – 4 pm
Weekday Happy Hour   3 pm – 6 pm

What we ate: 

  • Up in smoke ($25)
  • Purista ($11)
  • Sangria ($10)
  • Gorditas ($12)
  • Flautas de camote ($16)
  • Black bean burger ($13)
  • Fudge brownie ($10)


 Up in Smoke is part of their selection of smoked cocktails and I have to admit I fell into the gimmicky trap. But, you can thank me because since I did you don’t have to. For starters, this drink is $25; now I won’t presume to know what you think qualifies as a pricey drink, but I think we can all agree that for that price I better be getting 1 darn good drink. Especially because their other drinks are all in the $11 range – this tells me that this one is super special. Well it is in some aspects. The presentation and delivery of this drink is like no other. The tequila is smoked with hemp seed table-side in a water pipe decanter (read: bong). Then it’s mixed with celery bitters, lemon and cucumber soda. This sounded great because I’m a huge fan of tequila in my cocktails and, as you already know, I’m obsessed with cucumber. However, this just didn’t deliver. It was good, but they could’ve just served me smoked tequila and there would have been no difference. The taste was too overpowering for some of the more subtle ingredients. It also made me wonder – does this process make the alcohol content go down (just a thought)?

The sangria was a white sangria and it was very tasty – lots of strawberries and watermelon. Tasty and refreshing, but I’d definitely go with the Purista!

Whatever the Up in Smoke lacked in flavor and pizzazz the Purista made up for. This is one of the best margaritas I have tried. Delicious, super refreshing, goes down easy and very flavorful – everything you want in a drink. Plus, it looked pretty too. This margarita is made with tequila reposado, agave, lime, and orange bitters. The best part was how they rimmed the glass with a sweet orange salt. This had actual orange peel bits and it was DELICIOUS! The kick of sweet and citrus really made this drink. Keep ’em coming please!

We weren’t starving (remember I was skeptical about eating here) so we just ordered a few things and shared. We ordered the gorditas which is a fried potato masa cake topped with salsa verde and cashew cream served over avocado. This is an appetizer and it’s a great little start. The dish is a little heavier and filling because it’s all potato, but the flavor is great. I was particularly surprised with the cream because it’s made out of cashews and I couldn’t taste the difference. I also appreciated the avocado and green salsa because it added a depth of flavor and it made it a bit fresher. ​

For one of our entrees we ordered the flautas de camote – these are fried rolled tacos filled with sweet potatoes and caramelized onions topped with pico de gallo, guacamole, cashew nacho cheese, cilantro and black beans. The taste was very good, but the shell itself was very hard. Borderline I-am-worried-about-chipping-my-tooth hard. Besides that, I really liked these flautas. ​

Our other entree was the black bean burger. Honestly, drop everything, this was AMAZING! Dennis doesn’t readily do vegan if he doesn’t have to and while I am open to it I wouldn’t choose it if there was a meat option. But if every vegan restaurant/dish has this much flavor I’d ask “where do I sign up”? I loved everything about this. First, the size was very generous, second it was STUFFED. The burger is messy, but you won’t mind because you’ll want to lick your fingers. The black bean patty is topped with chipotle aioli and escabeche and served with a side of pineapple slaw (<– great, but spicy!). I was really blown away by this. It isn’t one of those dishes where it’s good because it’s vegan, this is truly good – it could go against something not vegan. Now I will say that it’s not your traditional burger with a typical bun, this has more of a ciabatta consistency, but no stale plant taste in sight. I really enjoyed this! I was also talking about it days later..

We couldn’t pass up dessert and our waitress recommended the brownie. It was topped with salted mezcal caramel, coconut bacon, and coconut cashew whipped cream. The ice cream was very tasty and the brownie itself was great, but the whipped cream really didn’t do it for me. It had an almost sour taste and you could tell it wasn’t a milk based product. It wasn’t bad I just wasn’t in love. They do have a few other options so I’ll just try another one next time.

Thank you Gracias Madre for bringing such a great variety and flavor to vegan cuisine. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely be back.

Gracias Madre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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