West Hollywood: Gracias Madre
There are two Gracias Madre restaurants; one is in San Francisco and one is in my neighborhood, West Hollywood. I went to the original Gracias Madre several years ago with the VegNews staff. The restaurant was dark, cozy and had hearty, vegan Mexican food served in an unfussy manner. The West Hollywood location, however, is like the grown up, glamorous version of that.
When you walk in you think, "Is this a restaurant or the dream beach house I never had?" It's breezy and open-- easily one of the largest, most open dining spaces in West Hollywood. Its patio is laced with lights andhouses a smaller bar.
Gracias Madre is known to be frequented by the likes of none other than Beysus, AKA Beyoncé, for its flavorful, filling, vegan food. And some day, I'll review that food for you.
But today it's about the cocktails. It is my absolute favorite place to drink in West Hollywood. The brains behind the bar, Jason Eisner, is nothing short of a magician. He's crafted a table-side smoked cocktail that's served in a water pipe decanter. He's crafted boozy popsicles that are as fun to photograph as they are to drink (I mean, eat?). And most of all, he's crafted what I believe to be the best margarita.
Meet The Purista: tequila reposado, agave, lime, orange bitters and sweet orange salt rim (although if you as for them to "make it spicy" the rim is smoky and salty and wholly the way to go if you like spice). It's light, refreshing, flavorful but not sweet and effective.
Jason Eisner has also created an adult snow cone: The Quinceañera. ("I'll take The Quinceañera, because I never had one." Yes, I actually said this to the bartender. Yes, I'm sure he's heard it before. Yes, there was a deserved eye roll.)
Made with tequila blanco, muddled kiwi, mint, lemon, agave nectar, lime bitters, hielo raspado and bitters, it didn't have the flavor profile I absolutely love, but it was fun to drink. And, come on, just look at it!
But one specialty drink I absolutely loved? The Popstar: mezcal espadin, green chartreuse, watermelon, clarified lime juice, sea salt, muddled jalapeño, house-made, organic, non-GMO Pop Rocks. Seriously. House-made Pop Rocks.
OVERALL: Hit up Gracias Madre for excellent cocktails (they have only tequila, mezcal, beer and wine-- warn your bourbon-drinking friends in advance) in a beautiful, comfortable environment. Food will be covered in another post, but do know they have superb chips, guac and salsa. Who needs much more than that?
GO WHEN: Whenever you can. Sit on the patio even if it's not fully warm enough (it's never fully cold enough not to, anyway). Get there early on Friday and Saturday night because it fills up fast and stays busy all night. It's also loud, so definitely go with girlfriends or your S.O. Don't go there on a first date on a busy night unless you feel like saying, "What?" all night. Or do that, because after a drink or two, you'll probably be talking loud enough anyway.