Gracias Madre

San Francisco, California


rating star

Where to begin the restaurant and food all look very nice. That is where my positive commentary ends.

The food was bland beyond belief the gorditas were ok, but everything else our party of 4 had was flavorless and expensive beyond all reason.

Oh and service was all around horrible. I will never go back.

Image for conde.kedar

rating star

After visiting Gracias Madre four different times, I must say that I am disappointed with the place. I had high hopes: a vegan, organic Mexican restaurant! Unfortunately, most of the food here is mushy, drab and bland. They insist on baking every damn dish and using a heavy cashew cream in practically everything they serve, which adds little to no flavor and makes every dish seem to be the same indistinguishable mash of cream and overbaked vegetables.

There's none of the color, freshness, simplicity, lightness, zing and pop that you'd expect to find in Mexican food. If you're looking for good vegan Mexican food, I recommend Flacos in Berkeley instead.

But I'll start off with what's done well at Gracias Madre here, though:

-the sweet potato quesadilla appetizer ($8), is made with sweet potato and caramelized onions and covered in a spicy cashew cream sauce. My Mexican, non-vegan friend and I both loved this dish---it was definitely spicy, but not overly so, in my opinion. It had a wonderful array of textures, from the firmness of the tortilla to the heft of the sweet potato and the creaminess of the sauce.

-the chocolate cake with cinnamon sauce and toasted coconut ice cream ($8). Holy crap this was a great dessert. The cake was perfectly moist and soft and the cinnamon sauce added some seriously good taste. When combined with the smooth and creamy coconut ice cream, it was a masterpiece.

Now the not so good:

-for my main course I had a nopales (cactus leaves) dish ($14). When you cook cactus leaves, they tend to get a little bit sour, as this dish showed. When you mixed the nopales with the black beans, brown rice and tortilla on the plate, the dish came together, but not perfectly so. I wasn't as impressed with the nopales as I was with the quesadilla.

-my friend had the enchilada with mole sauce ($13) which he thought was okay, but also not great. Based on the few bites I had of his dish, the flavors just didn't pop, though I thought the mole sauce was well-executed.

-the pozole is lame ($7). This stew initially was served to us lukewarm, but they graciously took it back and remade it for us, hot and fresh. But the tastes didn't feel quite right, and neither of us liked this dish.

-the verenjena con queso fundido ($8). Yet another heavy, baked dish with a mishmash of seasoning, excessive use of the cashew cream, with all the vegetables (eggplant, tomato, poblano chiles) turned into a mush with no color or textural appeal.

The restaurant itself is a spacious (but crowded) and the service and ambiance are good.

In short, I think Gracias Madre needs to cut back, simplify its menu, and focus on keeping its vegetables crisp (how about sauteing instead of baking?) and and bright. I think that would go a long way toward solving the food issues here.

I cannot, however, recommend Gracias Madre, other than for dessert and drinks. Go to Flacos instead.

rating star

I'm so torn on this place. Decor/ambiance: terrific! Neighborhood: hella scary. Staff: friendly. Food: eh.

Ordered the "quesadilla" and a side of greens. The quesadilla came out smothered in the spiciest salsa ever, seriously, I couldn't eat it. I'm not a baby, I LOVE spicy things and this dish hurt my mouth. And since it was covering the entire thing there was no way around it. If that wasn't bad enough, there were no onions per the menu description so it was filled with smooth cashew cheese and completely pureed sweet potato. Basically, baby food. Spicy as all hell baby food. I managed to get down about 1/8th and finally ordered something else (papas hornos) and snacked on my greens.

Thankfully, greens were tasty. Now here's the thing, the potatoes came out, and they ROCKED!! Incredible. I'm still dreaming about them. (I subbed the regular cashew cheese instead of the nacho as my mouth was still tender) Like I said, so torn! I told my server my dissatisfaction with the quesadilla (which had come highly recomended by him) and he just kind of shrugged and of course I still had to pay for it. Thats fair I suppose.

I'm not sure I would eat here again, we'll see how my mouth heals.

Image for Cass Danger

rating star

I still hold that NYC has the best Mexican food outside of Mexico, but Gracias Madre did a great job of bringing some vegan items to the table. They also have semi-outdoor seating, which is covered, but open to the street so there's lots of light and energy coming in off the street. My favorite item was the pozole (traditional Mexican stew with hominy (corn), veggie meat, and avocado) because I have NEVER seen a vegan version of this in another restaurant - vegan, Mexican, or otherwise.

During a ridiculous two-woman EatFest, my friend and I ordered half the menu. We started with the guacamole which was good, but really special because of the amazing handmade tortillas that it comes with. The tortillas are thick, hearty, and made fresh with organic corn. You can even see bits of fresh corn and you know it's fresh. We also ordered the papas bravas (or perhaps the "papas al horno") which were oily baked potatoes with a cashew cheese sauce drizzled over them. Yum. We also got the cauliflower bake, which was a sort of cauliflower casserole baked with the cashew cheese sauce (which appears in many dishes) and bread crumbs on top. I preferred this to the potatoes because it was a more involved and unique dish.

We then got the pumpkin/squash quesadillas which everyone seems to be raving about but I can't say that I was impressed. The flavor was good, but it was NOT a quesadilla. Quesadillas consist of cheese between two flour tortillas and pan fried, with or without veggies/(faux) meat inside. The dish consists of a thick, homemade corn tortilla stuffed with pumpkin puree and folded over like a taco. The cashew cheese sauce and vegan crema is then drizzled on and pumpkin seeds are sprinkled on top.

We also went with the chile relleno, which was good, but I think I'd prefer the poblano pepper to be stuffed with fake meat, rice, or beans, or something more substantial than other vegetables. The dish came with rice and beans on the side, so I just mixed it all together and it was good. We also got a side of kale, which wasn't highly seasoned enough to stand alone on its own but made a nice, light, healthy accompaniment to the rest of our heavy meal.

So glad Gracias Madre has vegan horchata (many Mexican restaurants mix dairy and non-dairy milk for horchata) and a large selection of desserts. However, I was really surprised and disappointed that they didn't have vegan tres leches cake. Tres Leches Cake IS Mexico. It is THE Mexican dessert (this argument could be made for flan) and it's never offered vegan so it would be amazing to see it on the menu.

Image for Lola

rating star

Gracias Madre makes the best vegan Mexican cuisine that I've ever tasted. It's the perfect restaurant for the Mission, which is known for its Mexican heritage as well as the new vegetarian hipster vibe. For my meal, I ordered the horchata, quesadillas de Calabaza and caramel flan. The horchata was smooth and refreshing, with a sweet cinnamon flavor. The quesadillas de Calabaza were the most interesting quesadillas that I have ever seen - pureed butternut squash and caramelized onion folded into a tortilla with cashew nut cheese, served with pumpkin seed salsa. The caramel flan was one of the best vegan renditions of caramel flan that I have seen. It had the perfect texture and there wasn't any detectable "soy" aftertaste.

I desperately wish that Mexican restaurants on the East Coast would take a lesson from Gracias Madre and start to offer more innovative vegan options. Gracias Madre has proven that it's possible!

Image for qster

rating star

Open only 6 weeks, this restaurant is already a San Francisco hit! We arrived about 9PM on a Tuesday night and found every table full. We sat at the bar which was a great chance to visit with the bartender and wait staff, and to check out the food coming and going! The decor is comfortable and warm with light wood tables and chairs, bright colors, tasteful artwork, & indirect lighting. Inside, there are 8 family-style tables that sit 6-8 people each and 12 seats at the bar. There are also 6 tables on a heated patio outside. The staff were friendly and helpful and knew details of the menu. They have a beer and wine license and offer a variety of wines, beers, & cocktails (sangria, mojito, margarita). They also offer fresh fruit waters and other NA beverages. Deciding what to choose from the comprehensive menu was difficult, everything sounded wonderful. We settled on a traditional tostada to start- a crispy corn tortilla with refried beans piled high with roasted chiles, pumpkin seeds, pico de gallo, and cashew crema (how do they do that? It was the richest cashew cream I've tasted). It was a great combination of flavor and texture and big enough to split. The entrees were almost too artfully presented to eat! I had the chile relleno: a delicious smokey roasted poblano chile filled with squash, seasoned with epazote, and drizzled with cashew cream. This already generous portion was served with refried black beans, brown rice, hot-ish pickled vegetables, and a basket of fresh, warm corn tortillas. My dining partner had the enchilada with mole rojo: 3 corn tortillas topped with mushrooms in a red mole sauce that picked up heat with each bite, wonderful! This was drizzled with the crema and served with a large helping of lightly dressed greens, pepitas, and refried black beans. Both entrees offered generous portions, a variety of colors on the plate, bold flavors, & crispy-chewy-creamy textures, it was a fantastic meal! We saved room for one dessert and it was well worth it. The chocolate cake with cocoa-cinnamon sauce served with toasted coconut "ice cream" was rich, moist, comforting...the perfect end to this outstanding meal.

Write your review