Review: Gracias Madre (San Francisco, CA)

Entrance to Gracias Madre with outdoor seating

Gracias Madre is a popular plant-based Mexican restaurant in California, with locations in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.  I tried this spot for lunch while in San Francisco rather than Los Angeles (too busy eating at Plant Food + Wine while in LA).  Located in the Mission District, the aesthetic of the restaurant is very rustic-desert with heavy, sturdy wood tables and stucco walls.  This was a couple years ago, and actually one of the first fully plant-based restaurant I had been to where truly everything on the menu was vegan (the first was Franchia in NYC in 2010 – a review is to come the next time I go).


Unable to decide what to get, I decided to be one of those people who asks the server for their recommendation; I told him to get me whatever his favorite item on the menu was.  This server in particular happened to love the tortas here, so that’s what I ended up with – a black bean & pesto torta with black beans, avocado, almond cilantro pesto, pico de gallo and cashew cheese. Served with escabeche.


Image of the black bean & pesto torta snatched from Yelp, on account of the fact that I lost my own… oops!

Simple and pretty basic as far as composition and ingredients go, the food was flavorful and very high quality.  And that BREAD – chewy with crunchy ends and no sogginess, which is the downfall of many sandwiches.


For dessert (there’s always dessert), I got a couple of classics, just to see how well a dairy free flan with an iced horchata could hold up to the traditional dessert and creamy drink…and the answer is pretty damn well.  They nailed the texture of the flan and the flavor of the horchata.


For a casual solo lunch in SF, Gracias Madre really hit the spot, but don’t the simplicity of my own meal fool you – the menu is extensive with many intriguing options to make a lunch date or dinner with friends memorable.

Where was your first fully plant-based restaurant experience, or where are you dying to go?  Let me know in the comments!

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Sydney Isaacs
Sydney Isaacs

Sydney is a 29-year old American living between France and Italy. She has a WSET Level 2 certification in wine, along with a degree in environmental engineering and an MBA. She loves exploring local farmer’s markets, haunting her favorite wine bar, and discovering new restaurants.

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