For my birthday this year, I told my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law that I would love to go out for lunch. I had suggested a place with both vegan and omnivore options, but after some research, my mother-in-law very thoughtfully suggested Gracias Madre. Gracias Madre is a 100% vegan restaurant that began in San Francisco and recently opened another location in West Hollywood.
My first impression was that the restaurant was really pretty – very light and airy. It was a beautiful LA day, so the restaurant was open to the patio. The seating was very comfortable, with a variety of benches and chairs at every table, and it wasn’t too crowded. We were seated on the patio.
We were offered a water as well as sparkling water and were brought a carafe of both. It took a while to order and I think it was for a couple of reasons. For me, I’m not used to being able to order literally anything on a menu, but for Eric’s family, I think it was a little foreign for them to be navigating a vegan menu.
We started with a couple of appetizers – the Gorditas and the Papas al Horno. The Gorditas, described as “potato-masa cakes topped with warm salsa verde, avocado, and cashew crema,” were wonderful. I loved the potato-masa cakes and the toppings were very fresh. The Papas al Horno, described as “roasted potatoes with olive oil and garlic topped with chipotle cashew nacho cheese,” were cooked well and tasted fine, but not worth ordering them again unless you love potatoes with cheese.
I ordered a Tamal because I have always loved tamales and don’t get to have them often since they aren’t usually vegan. Their tamal is a “stoneground heirloom masa steamed in the husk filled with sautéed butternut squash, poblano peppers and onions, served with beans and escabeche.” The tamal was the right texture, with flavorful filling, but there wasn’t enough of it. Mostly, I tasted masa and the salsa I topped the tamal with. The beans that accompanied it, though, were creamy and delicious. My sister-in-law ordered the same thing and liked the dish as well.
Eric got the Enchiladas con Mole, “spicy mole enchiladas topped with mushrooms and cashew cheese, served with sautéed greens and beans.” He absolutely loved them and let me have a bite. I’m definitely not a fan of mole in regular circumstances, I don’t really understand using cinnamon and chocolate in a savory sauce. However, this stuff was amazing! I could taste every little thing in the sauce, kind of like when I had a bowl of Emeril Lagasse’s gumbo from his Steakhouse in my pre-vegan days. Next time we go to Gracias Madre, I may order this dish for myself!
My mother-in-law got the tacos, “three corn tortillas topped with seared cauliflower, grilled calabaza verde, and mushrooms. Topped with cashew crema, served with beans.” I had a bite and thought that they were very tasty, but I’m not a huge fan of mushroom texture. However, I think I might order these in the future, they were that good.
My grandmother-in-law ordered the El Plato, which was a little of everything and came with tortillas. The menu describes it as “butternut squash, cashew nacho cheese, plantains, cilantro pesto, escabeche, rice, pico de gallo and beans.” She really enjoyed her fresh and plentiful dish.
Overall, I was very impressed with Gracias Madre. The service was very good and timely throughout the meal and the food was all very fresh and well-prepared. The prices were also decent for the upscale feel of the restaurant. Despite having ordered fresh-squeezed juices and appetizers for a party of five, we spent only about $30 more than the time that three of us dined at Mohawk Bend. I will definitely be back to Gracias Madre!