Vegan mexican food is really nothing special. I can get an amazing burrito with beans, rice, lettuce and tomatoes (provided the beans are lard free and the rice has no chicken stock).
But a fully authentic Mexican vegan experience? Now that is something awesome.
Gracias Madre is nestled in the heart of the Mission District, in an area that is not as welcoming as one would hope. But on the day I arrived, there was a break in the typical SF fog, casting rays of light on the exterior of a really cool restaurant.
Once inside, the decor is warm, inviting, and accented with Southwestern designs. While sparce, the mission-style furniture and stonework is something different.
I didn’t have a wait at all, and sat the spacious bar where I ordered my meal.
I decided on the Tamal, a delicious homemade “stone ground” masa, steamed in the husk with potato, tomatillo salsa, and onions. On the side was a hearty portion of black beans and a portion os escabeche. The escabeche was good, but I am a total baby so I avoided the jalapeños and stuck with the others.
While waiting for my meal, I walked around and watched one of the workers pull steaming, fresh tortillas out of a press, and slap them down onto a tray. This was both amazing vegan food, and an authentic Mexican experience all rolled into one.
After finishing my IPA and dinner, I pulled the trigger on the flan, a decision I enjoyed. It was authentic flan at its best with a spongy, firm custard-like texture and great flavor.
Service was brisk and a little unfriendly, but it was a slow time at the bar, and it seemed like everyone had something better to do.
But I don’t come here for a hug. I come here for great, authentic Mexican food on a pretty solid menu made of local, organic ingredients.
Every time I have been to GM, they have delivered in spades. Be sure to stop by on your next trip to San Francisco!