Gracias Madre

Photo: Kelly Bone


Photo: Kelly Bone

Wholesome Caifornian goodness, Mexican-style

By Leila Najafi

Some may question the very idea of Mexican vegan food, but hold on to your hats, carnivores, because Gracias Madre is here to win over your hearts, minds, and stomachs. The 100 percent plant-based, organic restaurant will actually leave you feeling seriously satisfied, and perhaps even pleasantly surprised in some way—cannabis cocktails, anyone?

This Melrose outpost—whose sister restaurant is Café Gratitude—is a beautifully designed bohemian chic space, bright and airy with plenty of indoor seating for small and large parties, and an expansive bar that can get pretty packed midweek. But perhaps the star of the show is what’s outside: one of LA’s largest outdoor patios, where you’ll undoubtedly find prime seating. Dine alfresco under the string lights on one of the couches adorned with colorful mismatched pillows, and bask in the glory of LA’s ever-perfect weather while treating yourself to a green smoothie that not only tastes good but is good for you.

For lunch, you can go with the chef’s tasting menu of house highlights, with a starter, an entrée, and a dessert, but you can also order from the regular menu as well. Standouts include the coliflór frito drenched in a cashew nacho cheese that will make you want to lick your plate clean, the crab cake torta (obviously sans crab) made using hearts of palm (who’d have thought?), and the Uno bowl, made with tempeh chorizo, black beans, and rice, if you’re craving a more filling dish.
Of course, you can’t walk out of a Mexican restaurant without downing at least one or two tacos, and the barbecue jackfruit carnitas or the stewed nopales (cactus) tacos are just the thing to scratch that itch.

For the grand finale, the flan con café, made with Groundwork Coffee, will put a bit more pep in your step. Meanwhile, the fudge brownie gets a kick from the salted mezcal caramel, but rest assured you can indulge guilt-free(-ish), because those flakes on top? That's right: coconut “bacon.”


Mon–Fri 11 AM–11 PM; Sat–Sun 10 AM–11 PM

price range

$7 (mains a la carta) to $16 (bowls)