LA: Vegan Mexican Food? It Can Be Done & "Gracias Madre" Does It Well

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Twitter: @danieluh

Seems like the vegan movement has put its dirty, healthy claws (#nodisrespecttovegans) on every trendy cuisine under the sun. I’ve always been skeptical of vegan food because I never trusted people who don’t eat cheese. I also dated a vegan guy who made questionable decisions in other parts of his life but I digress. One of the cuisines on the outskirts of the vegan frontier is Mexican food-with the abundance of cheese, sour cream, lard and carnitas, was it possible to create an animal-free alternative? Restaurant  Gracias Madre was up for the challenge.

After the success of its S.F. Mission District location, the animal-free, locally sourced Gracias Madre is opening up its Los Angeles doors this Friday, January 17. Owned by the team behind health conscious Cafe Gratitude, Gracias Madre will be serving produce grown from the restaurant owner’s farm in Vacaville and other local farms. I’d like to address the irony in the fact that Vacaville basically translates to “Cow Town” in depth, but there’s no time. Antojitos include plantain-filled empanadas, Mayan pumpkin seed dip, and Repollitos Con Queso Fundido, made with Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions baked in cashew cheese and garlic breadcrumbs.

Photo: Gracias Madre San Francisco

The entrees are looking right too, with selections including heirloom masa Tamales filled with sautéed butternut squash, onions and tomatoes, chilaquiles with cashew crema, avocado, black beans and more. Gracias Madre doesn’t skimp on dessert either, offering a vegan flan raved about by food critics, and boozy mezcal popsicles, which are one of our favorite things (see Diablo Tacos’ Michelada paleta.)

Thankfully, if vegan isn’t your thing, mezcal and tequila are always animal-free. We can’t promise that won’t happen afterward, though.

Gracias Madre
8905 Melrose Avenue