Will and I had our first experience with Gracias Madre in San Francisco. At peak dining time, the restaurant was packed and we had to wait fifteen minutes for a table in the chilly outside patio. When he read that the restaurant opened a location in Los Angeles a few months after, we decided to make the trek out of suburbia to West Hollywood and give it a try.
The decor of the West Hollywood location is straight out of a Pinterest design board. Large windows let in plenty of light while white tiled tables give the place a vaguely ethnic flair. Hanging air plants, rustic light fixtures, and a large outdoor seating area to enjoy the sunshine make the restaurant a welcoming place, despite the line of beautiful, fashionable people in designer sunglasses waiting for seating.
Gracias Madre is a completely vegan restaurant serving Mexican food. There’s not a lot of these in LA, so it there was a novelty factor in our coming here.
We shared a very good cauliflower appetizer. Florets of cauliflower were seasoned with cumin and other spices and then deep fried, not to golden perfection, but close enough. Dipped in their table-side red salsa, it was a promising start to the meal.
I ordered the entree tamal, which had some sort of squash stuffing and came with a side of black beans. The tamal was decent and the squash wasn’t overly sweet like I was fearing. The accompanying pickled vegetables were in a bad place between unrefined and rustic. The sad spoonful of pico de gallo looked and tasted out of place. The beans were quite good smeared on a bite of tamal. This dish was okay, but for $13, I wanted more than ‘okay.’ I know that the price of the dish reflects the localness of the ingredients, paying the servers, rent, etc. but I do wish it were more exciting than “one tamale and a side of beans.”
Will had the chilaquiles, which weren’t bad. They weren’t the best chilaquiles I’ve had, and not even the best vegan version I’ve had. They also came with a side of those tasty black beans.
When Will went outside after the meal, some passerby’s asked him if the food was good. He said something along the lines of “The food is good if you’re vegan and you want Mexican-type food and you don’t mind paying a lot for it.”
8905 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069