Vegan MoFo 2: Gracias and Gratitude

October 2nd, 2011 · Lisa · restaurant review, Review, Travel, vegan mofo · Comments

If yesterday’s post wasn’t enough to make you start researching San Francisco’s real estate market then let me present two other eating establishments that might just seal the deal.

First up, Gracias Madre

As their website says, Gracias Madre (or “Thank you, Mother” in English):
? Celebrates food;
? Celebrates, honours and gives thanks for all mothers who feed and nourish us (including our Mother Earth); and
?Celebrates the richness of Mexican culture.

“Gracias Madres is a place for people to connect and create community.”

This sentence rings so true since, before Nicole and I even ordered our meal we were engaged in conversation with two gentlemen at the next table. We soon got into a lively chat about the joys of eating vegan (We were still high off of the Vida Vegan Con excitement).

One of the guys had obviously been brought to Gracias Madre by his friend in an attempt to encourage a plant-based diet. He said that he had been thinking about becoming vegetarian because eating meat made him feel terrible. We chatted about his concerns, shared our enthusiasm for the amazing menu at Gracias Madre (and of course, some tips on getting enough protein) and he left talking about change.

Delicious food is powerful activism. Throw in a few supportive smiles and who can resist?

Gracias Madre offers organic vegan Mexican cuisine in the middle of San Francisco’s Mission District.

Knowing that a day of eating had only just begun, Nicole and I decided to share an appetizer. The Quesadillas de Camote: Sweet potato and caramelized onion folded into tortillas with cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa. This dish came highly recommended by all the Gracias Madre regulars we encountered at Vida Vegan Con and it didn’t disappoint.

You may not have cashew nacho cheese kicking around but next time you mash up sweet potatoes add some caramelized onions and you’ll begin to imagine the magnificence of this dish.

It was a substantial serving stuffed with sweet potatoes. We were glad we shared.

Photo by Nicole

We also split the The Ensalada de Fruta: Farm lettuce tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette, topped with toasted hazelnuts and grilled peaches, served with grilled Acme bread and garlic cashew cheese. With every bite I thought, “Why don’t I eat peaches and hazelnuts in every salad? This stuff is magic!”. Yeah, so, there maybe something in the San Francisco air because I was practically swooning at every meal – being on vacation really agrees with my attitude 🙂

It was a cool summer day in the Bay Area, after lunch we tossed around the idea of sangria but as we pulled on our jackets, teas and horchata were ordered instead.

A couple of days later, Nicole and I ventured out to Cafe Gratitude another vegan restaurant on our priority list – which happens to be owned by the same couple as Gracias Madre.

Cafe Gratitude’s menu is organic, mostly raw and all vegan! I have turned to their cookbooks, I am Grateful and Sweet Gratitude, for raw food inspiration for years, so it was pretty sweet to finally find myself in their dining room.

Our trip had involved a lot of eating so it seemed fitting to order the, I am fulfilled salad: mixed greens, carrots, beets, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, sprouts, Brazil nut parmesan, and teriyaki almonds. Nicole ordered I am complete: a Mediterranean plate with raw hummus, falafel, and cucumber taziki salad. We both enjoyed our meals but they weren’t a huge departure from the dishes prepared at many Toronto spots like Live, Fresh and Cruda Cafe.
Photo by Nicole

I think the desserts are where Cafe Gratitude’s talents really shine. Check out the glorious selection of cakes, cookies, chocolate and more.

Photo by Nicole

I was craving something minty and found the Chocolate Mint Cookie Sandwich to satisfy that need.  The ice cream was cool and refreshing and contrasted well with the two cookie layers of deep, dark chocolate.

Photo by Nicole

So, now that we’ve talked about some vegan restaurants that have impressed me with their creativity, starting tomorrow I’m going to share some meals that I hope you can use to impress others.

We’re talking perfect potluck ideas all week long!

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