As I wrap up recaps of my San Francisco trip (see days 1, 2 and 3) I find it unsettling to do so just as Hurricane / Tropical Storm Sandy has wreaked such havoc on New Jersey and New York – particularly in downtown Manhattan where I used to live and work, and parts of Brooklyn, where I also lived. That said, one of the things that always give me solace is good food memories, and lunch at Gracias Madre was really quite lovely. So reminiscing shall begin right now.
When we initially started planning this trip to San Francisco, eating at Café Gratitude was high on my list – but then the trip got delayed (by a couple of years), and then I realized that Café Gratitude locations in San Francisco had closed. Fortunately all was not lost, since, by serendipity I ended up going on a work trip to Kansas City, MO where Café Gratitude Kansas City had opened earlier this year. I had several delicious meals at Café Gratitude Kansas City and, in the midst of my looking at the Café Gratitude website at the time, realized that while the Café Gratitude locations in San Francisco had closed, there was now a restaurant called Gracias Madre, an organic, vegan Mexican restaurant owned by the same folks who own Cafe Gratitude. I should mention I could have ventured to Berkeley from San Francisco to go to Café Gratitude Berkeley, but the thought of vegan Mexican food was too enticing. We had lunch on a Sunday at Gracias Madre. The décor is wooden and warm. I felt so happy and right at home. Especially because, even though it was not on the menu, Gracias Madre has the same basic green juice that I had had at Café Gratitude Kansas City:
The waiter was very knowledgeable in terms of what on the menu was gluten-free, and based on his explanation of how cross-contamination was handled in the kitchen, I felt comfortable eating there. We ordered the sweet potato and caramelized onion quesadillas to start with, as they are apparently the most popular appetizer.
I can see why. I loved the cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa:
We ended up only splitting one and I saved the second one to snack on later that day, as I had these beautiful tacos as my entrée:
Mushroom taco, seasonal greens taco (tuscan kale the day I was there) and roasted poblano and onion taco, topped with more cashew cheese – more like a vegan crema – and with a side of amazing black beans:
I love mushroom tacos, and briefly considered ordering three of those, but I am glad I went for the variety platter. I truly could not decide which taco was my favorite. The tacos were splendid, but I also loved my side of corn on the cob with chipotle cashew cheese:
When I lived in Brooklyn, I loved the grilled corn I could get at street fairs. This had the same creamy and lime-heavy flavor profile, but the corn was organic and even sweeter, and the crema was vegan and much more complex in spicing. My husband had the tamale with mole – the mole was gluten-free so I was happy to have a taste:
The flavors were great, but I found the tamale a tiny bit gummy and far preferred my tacos. We also shared horchata and flan for dessert.
Incidentally the salsas at each table were pretty amazing too.
I cannot remember the last time I had flan – it Is not exactly easy to find a vegan flan:
And on that sweet note, we left Gracias Madre for the rest of our fourth day in San Francisco.