Sometime in 2014, while everyone was pouring buckets of ice on their heads and consulting their spiritual advisors over what exactly happened in that elevator with Solange and Jay-Z, a massive new restaurant opened in West Hollywood. It promised a modern vegan Mexican menu, hundreds of mezcals, and a patio that’d rival any in the city. And for all intents and purposes, Gracias Madre delivered on that. Except one thing - the food is not good.
We don’t care what kind of dietary restrictions you have, the food at Gracias Madre is nothing more than colorful cardboard and we can all raise our hands and say we’ve been duped by it more than once. And yet, all your visiting friends and coworkers still want to come here. No more, we say. Whether you’re looking for a beautiful patio, a solid vegan meal, or a quick after-work cocktail, there are better versions of Gracias Madre all within close proximity of the place. Choose one of these spots instead.
Sometimes the scene is why you go to Gracias Madre in the first place. And if that’s what you and your friends are looking for tonight, head to Rosaline on Melrose. The second this modern Peruvian joint opened up, it became a go-to for very beautiful people and their social media careers, but with food you actually want to spend all night eating. The bright space is big, with a ceviche bar and a back area that feels like you’re eating in a greenhouse. Drinking pisco cocktails and eating paella is always a good way to finish out a week.
You’re rallying the crew for a last-minute brunch and the only people who have mustered the strength to text you back want something kind of healthy. You’re starving and maybe still drunk and the last thing you need right now is to be sitting outside for an hour and a half waiting for a salad. Go to Hugo’s. This West Hollywood establishment has been around since 1980 and is basically a neighborhood diner, but one that happens to serve really good vegan food.
It’s been a long week, and you want Mexican food. But you also have to go to a friend’s birthday dance party later and you’re not about to roll in with a cheese enchilada working its way south. Petty Cash has been around for a few years now and has become one of Beverly Grove’s most dependable spots for a crowd-pleasing, as-light-as-you-need-it-to-be dinner. The atmosphere always feels like a party (that you want to be at), good luck trying to have only one of their spicy margaritas, and the cauliflower nachos are one of the better meatless dishes in Los Angeles.
When it comes to date night, Gracias Madre can be appealing in theory. Until you realize that that twinkling patio of theirs is dominated by large groups of 23-year-olds who are mostly concerned with Cardi B and facial contouring. If you want real peace tonight, go to Marvin. The small French restaurant on Beverly feels like you’re having dinner at your friend’s apartment, with a fantastic wine list, good food (get the jamon tomato toast), and a lively atmosphere where you can still hear the person across from you.
Maybe you’re still thinking about that patio. Yes we know, Gracias Madre’s outdoor space is great. But you know who else has a great patio? Mama Shelter. And theirs is on a roof. With foosball tables, outdoor movies, and an entire area of large couch/beds dedicated to day-napping. The fact that their bar food menu and movie-themed cocktails are also solid is simply a bonus.
Your out-of-town friends just flew in and are already asking to go to Gracias Madre. Because they saw photos of it on Instagram. Instead, take them to a place everyone hasn’t seen, where they can actually feel like they discovered something: Pace Joint. The second location of the classic Italian Laurel Canyon restaurant opened as a more casual, to-go option for the area, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and eat. Particularly when the best patio in Weho that you never knew about is hiding in the back. Pics or it didn’t happen.