Make Happy: Gracias Madre

Tostadas at Gracias Madre. Note: A happy hour order comes with only one. Photo: TS.

We’ve got to put work on pause from time to time for a reboot, because your best work comes when you’re taking time to step away from it. And there are few better ways to do so then with a happy hour.

It’s typically inexpensive; the break doesn’t last too long; and it’s not hard to find someone in the crowd to commiserate with. That’s why we’re starting a new string of posts on where to go for drinks and (small) bites on the cheap.

We’re beginning with Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, which starts its happy hour program earlier than most. We’re not going to use coy-not-coy puns on fiesta or siesta to describe the gorgeous plant-based Mexican-inspired restaurant.

Gracias Madre is part of a fast-growing group of restaurants casting aside notions on veganism, and in some cases what comprises a Mexican food experience in the first place.

In other words, you won’t find a complimentary endless basket of tortilla chips here. You’ll have to pay for each basket, not to mention the salsa. You won’t find much clichés by way of decor. What you can find is thoughtful use of produce to mirror, and in some cases transcend, familiar regional Mexican flavors like a tostada topped with fresh young coconut.

And the crowd tends to reflect this. Here you’ll bump elbows with a motley of design-minded, oft model-looking professionals who frequent the WeHo restaurant, steps away from the Pacific Design Center and higher end boutiques like 3.1 Phillip Lim.

Gracias Madre: 8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood; (323) 978-2170. [map]

The Deal: Mon-Fri, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The $5 menu reads like a Hemingway short story. Expect pared down offerings from their regular menu: single servings of tostada, taco, gordita, and flauta with varying choices in filling. A seasonal sangria tops the small range of refreshments available on the menu.

The menu also includes  a mezcal mule made with ginger beer and a purista magarita made from the best of both a margarita and an Old Fashioned with orange bitters and lime. Oh and there’s one white, one red, and one craft beer.