Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gracias For a 100 Post Anniversary, Madre! (VEGAN MOFO: DAY 25)

Congratulations, me, this is my 100th blog post!  Here's to another 100!  I'll drink fresh-squeezed Green Juice from Herbivore to that.
I look so much like my mother in this picture that it kinda freaks me out.
Ever since I got to San Francisco and I've told someone that I'm basically on Vegan Food Tour 2012, that person almost always asks, "Have you been to Gracias Madre?"  Now I can say that the answer is a big ol' yes!  I went yesterday early in the evening, riding my little sister's bicycle over there.

Have I mentioned what a pleasure it is to ride a bicycle in San Francisco?  It is incredibly easy to bike here, and I really cannot believe non-handicapped people would choose to take a bus instead, especially when buses double the amount of time it takes to get somewhere.  There are bike lanes galore, and the bike routes avoid hills.  I just say a place I want to go into the Google Navigation on my phone (make sure you choose bicycle, so it knows to take you to bike paths), stick my phone in my bra, and let it call directions out to me worry-free.  So far, I have not encountered a single serious hill -- certainly not compared to Pittsburgh!  Pittsburgh is way, way, way hillier everywhere in the city.  Also, it rains more there than in Seattle and has, uhhh, more bridges than Venice, Italy.  Plus, people say "yinz" there, did yinz know that??  ANYWAY...

...back to Gracias Madre.  It's so beautiful in there, and it's entirely vegan and it feels both fancy and casual at the same time.  I sat at the bar and ordered the Enchiladas Con Mole.
Underneath all that cashew crema and mushrooms and mole sauce, there are flour tortillas.  This is actually really difficult to understand visually, in my opinion.  I did the thing I always do, which is cut it all up and mix it all together and shovel it in my mouth probably (more than) a little too quickly.  I also added quite a bit of their homemade hot sauce to it.

Here's my personal opinion about what I got.  I thought it was tasty, and each individual thing was really quite good -- the crema, the beans, the cooked greens, the mole sauce, the mushrooms.  I'm a vegan, and I was happy to eat these things.  My only reservation about the meal is that I don't think I'd want to bring a non-vegan person here.  I feel like this kind of food makes meat eaters ask "Where's the processed, ground beef?"  This can sometimes do a disservice to vegans in that it makes people think that vegan food is "unsatisfying."

Now, OK, I was influenced by my sister on this.  She'd been to Gracias Madre and found it to be expensive and not satisfying to her.  It just made her want meat and cheese.  I guess that I prefer restaurants that show the world that vegan food can put non-vegan food to shame, to utter shame.  And that's really not fair.  Meat eaters get to have tons of average restaurants, why do all of ours have to be effing spectacular all the time?!?!  I guess it's just because we have something we want to prove, and that's why vegan food blogging has got to be the most active food blogging sub-genre by far.  We love to show off how much better the food we eat all the time is than the food the vast majority of non-vegans eat, while they incorrectly believe we are living some kind of life of contrived self-denial.

But here's the thing.  I am in San Francisco's Mission District.  I mean, if I didn't get some Latin-style food, it would be like I wasn't even really here.  So, for me, Gracias Madre is a must.  I simply had to go out and enjoy myself some enchiladas.  I should probably try to obtain a burrito before I leave as well.  Vegans and cool friends of vegans, go there, enjoy!  But don't bring any of your doubter friends.  They WILL find fault with this food.  Even after you tell them about all the starving children who'd be thrilled to get this meal or tell them that if they don't eat another bite, they won't get dessert.  I fear that even using every parent-of-a-picky-eater trick in the book, your committed omnivore friends won't be saying "Gracias, madre!"  And I don't know about you, but I want them to say something like that, don't you?



  1. I really loved Gracias Madre — maybe I'm a vegan :) I can't remember what I had but it was delicious.

    I had to laugh about your finding less hilly bicycle routes. We walked all over San Francisco and there were moments I just wanted to lie down and not move. Next time, I'm following your advice and using the bike routes — even for walking.

    1. Two things. One, great idea! Definitely walk the bike routes! Two, never go to Pittsburgh!!! I use a bike route to get two and from work every day, and that involves a mile and a half up a steep hill every day. This is what I'm used to doing. Pittsburgh! Great sledding, though. I mean, seriously, amazing sledding.

  2. I've been busy and I'm catching up on your posts (and, as always, enjoying them!!! : ) Good for you making the vegan food rounds in SF. Lucky you! I live in MA and was hoping to get to NY to Candle 79 for my 30th b. day. Alas, b-day is just a few days away and I don't think it's going to happen. Que sera sera. Instead, I'll enjoy SF vicariously through your excellent posts... Enjoy your vacation!!!

  3. Melissa,

    Omnivores, the ones I know (and vegans!) love

    BERENJENA CON QUESO FUNDIDO Roasted eggplant, tomato, sauteed onion, and roasted poblano chiles baked in cashew cheese and topped with garlic breadcrumbs 8.5
    QUESADILLAS DE CALABAZA Butternut squash and caramelized onions folded into tortillas with cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa 8.5
    EMPANADA Homemade pastry filled with grilled plantains, served on a bed of spicy mole sauce, topped with cashew cream 7.5

    and most of the desserts.

    Sadly, I don’t see the flan there anymore, but I’m the one who’s a huge fan of that.

    By the way, the quesadilla is listed under appetizers but it makes a huge meal; if I get a side of black beans and guacamole with it, eating half is plenty.


  4. Yet another reason smart phones would be useful, sometimes I want directions declared at me too! Yeah, I'm the same way about restaurants. I love me some health foody restaurants, but then there's the comfort food ones, and those are the ones where I want them to show off to the world that vegan food can be just as decadent and drool-worthy as anything else.


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