Hot New Restaurant: Cafe Gratitude Goes Mexican

Eric Wolfinger
Cafe Gratitude

The folks behind the echt-hippie hang (where baked gluten-free pasta is called I Am Fulfilled) head south of the border with a lively vegan vortex in West Hollywood.

Quick Pitch: Located just across Melrose Avenue from West Hollywood industry spot Craig's, Gracias Madre is the latest offshoot from Cafe Gratitude founders Matthew Engelhart and wife Terces, whose locations in Hancock Park and Venice have become A-list vegan havens. (They launched the original Gracias Madre in San Francisco's Mission District with partner Chandra Gilbert in 2009.)

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The Mexican-minded mecca, whose investors include Jason Mraz and Woody Harrelson, serves up all-organic, seasonal ingredients (some of which originate from the Engelharts' Be Love Farm near Vacaville, Calif.) in a lively modern room marked by patterned tile, vaulted wood ceilings and wrought iron. Sweet potato and caramelized-onion flautas are popular, as are the small-batch tequila cocktails -- perhaps best enjoyed on the rustic outdoor terrace. They're still working out a few kinks, but that hasn't bridled the crowds.

Insider's Dish: The staff sang happy birthday to Ellen DeGeneres when she was in.

Must-Order Item: The Mocha Cheesecake -- an airy, nondairy slice topped with chocolate cinnamon sauce.

Industry Neighbor: Director Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions is around the corner on La Peer Dr. 

8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, 323.978.2170,