Ahh San Francisco. I thought you had good food until I moved to NYC!
BUT if there is one good food-related thing to come out of San Francisco, it is Gracias Madre. There is an additional Gracias Madre located in Beverly Hills/West Hollywood (which I think is actually the original location) that has a super different vibe, but is equally as special – which I’ll get into more below.
The San Francisco restaurant is located in the Mission district – which is a vibrant, hipster-y part of the city known for it’s amazing Mexican food. Gracias Madre totally embodies this vibe as it is (duh) a Mexican restaurant with a twist: everything on the menu is vegan. Score for me, eye roll for you, I know – but I swear my non-vegan friends LOVED this place, too. You’d never know that this place is vegan because of how similar all of the “fake” stuff (aka cashew cheese, etc.) tastes to the real thing.
Some of my favorite dishes include:
Coliflor frito – flash fried cauliflower mixed with spicy cashew cheese
Ensalada de espinaca – sauteed spinach with mint, mushrooms, asparagus and orange toss with toasted pecans + balsamic *sounds kinda basic but is sooo tasty
Black bean burger – served with pineapple jalapeno colesaw, come.on.
Tacos – filled with eggplant, butternut squash and mushrooms, lettuce, pico de gallo, cilantro, onion + cashew cheese
Bowl uno AND bowl dos – like chipotle bean bowls but more “sophisticated” (as one might hope)
I was surprised (and impressed) at just HOW different this location is compared to it’s counterpart in SF. The West Hollywood location has a more airy, sophisticated feel than the funky, Mexican restaurant in SF. The LA location is also HUGE with an indoor dining area as well as an outdoor patio. I was so pumped to see a vegan restaurant be 1. so large, meaning that lots of people are eating vegan, and 2. be so trendy, because vegans are cool, too and the world needs to start seeing that right?!?!
The LA location also has a broader range of cocktail options, ‘speciallyyyy the Tequila Mule Snow Cone drink (I didn’t see this as an option on the menu but just ask for the drink with the snow cone like you’re 5). It’s tasty, fun, and – sorry – Instagrammable. See below for me hungover on my 24th birthday (shoot is this a theme??).
FUNNY STORY: My friend who I was in LA with is allergic to tree nuts, so at the restaurant she asked the waitress for advice on what to order. Instead of listing off a few solid options as any normal lazy waitress would, she disappeared to the back only to return with a GIANT binder that included all of the allergen info for every single dish the restaurant serves. My friend literally looked like she was studying for the SATs at dinner.
The menu here is also slightly expanded, with additional options such as the jackfruit catnitas tacos and even a bowl tres (what did we do in a past life to deserve a bowl TRES?!). Below is the black bean burger + flautas de camote (aka sweet potato taquitas).
The atmosphere at both west coast locations paired with the deliciousness AND eco-friendly concept of the restaurant makes me miss the cool California vibe. But then I remember how much I didn’t fit in in SF and stop caring. But yay, Gracias Madre! <3