Gracias Madre, Newport Beach, Ca

I used to be vegan for over six years and before that I was vegetarian for six years as well. However, now it has been nine years since I started eating animal products. In the last nine years, I have seen vegan food take the world by storm, however, I swore off vegan food for a long time. Recently, I decided to make a visit to Gracias Madre, not realizing it was a vegan restaurant. 

I had heard of this restaurant before, as it is a chain with various locations around the country. When I arrived at the location in Newport Beach, the menu appeared to be similar to any other Mexican restaurant. There was parmesan cheese, mozzarella, and even “carnitas” on the menu. The only difference was everything was completely vegan. I decided to order the elote (Mexican corn), the jackfruit “carnitas” crunch wrap, and the enchiladas. 

The best item was the Fuerte crunch wrap. This is basically a vegan version of the Taco Bell item. It comes with jackfruit carnitas, guacamole, pico de gallo, cashew nacho cheese, corn tostada, wrapped & pressed in a whole wheat tortilla. The outside is crisp and buttery. 

Typically enchiladas have meat inside of them, but the Enchiladas Verdes at Gracias Madre were filled with potato, peas, zucchini, kale, and avocado, then covered in salsa verde and cashew crema, with a side of rice and black beans. The flavors were very authentically Mexican and the chips on the side tasted great!

Sirved Must-Try Dishes

  • Queso fundido: Basically this dish is typically melted cheese, similar to fondue. This dish is actually Oaxacan chili-infused cashew portobello cheese, crispy mozzarella, and green onion served with chips or tortillas. They had lots of flavors, and they were a comfort food dish.
  • Grilled street corn: Covered in four chili aioli, cilantro, tajin, and then rolled in fake parmesan cheese that tasted very real
  • Taco Flight where you can choose three out of four available tacos. It was pretty unbelievable that they were vegan, the choices included:
    • Al Pastor is made from oyster mushrooms, topped with grilled pineapple, onion, cilantro, salsa Roja, and guacamole. 
    • Coconut made with crispy coconut meat, Mexican kimchee, carrot aioli, and microgreens
    • Fried topo chico–battered portobellos, cabbage slaw, and chipotle aioli 
    • Parm pastor made with crispy parmesan crusted mushrooms, pesto-dressed mixed greens, chipotle crema, pickled red onion, and micro cilantro 
  • Chorizo nachos: Most people love nachos, and these are unbelievably good, made with soy chorizo, black beans, pico de gallo, salsa verde, pineapple salsa, and cashew nacho cheese over the top.

Although I did not try the drinks, the signature cocktails looked great! Especially the “Cosmopolita” which comes with tequila Blanco, hibiscus, cranberry, lime, and orange liqueur. The “Cafe Estrella Espresso Martini” sounded very unique, with tequila reposado, espresso, monk fruit, aquafaba, cashew crema, vanilla bean, and dried Oaxacan pepper. I could see myself coming often for happy hour or even on a Friday night!

Explore Gracias Madres’s restaurant menu in Newport Beach, California here.