The Essential T: Tortillas at Gracias Madre

Understanding the handmade tortilla

The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A. 

We are in the middle of a tortilla renaissance here in Los Angeles, slowly weaning ourselves off the unholy trinity of Gruma brands: Mission, Maseca, and Guerrero. You can still count on quality housemade tortillas at restaurants like La Casita Mexicana, Rocios Moles de Los Dioses, and there are droves of fans that swear by the tortillas at Guisados, made using the nixtamalization process, where raw corn is cooked with limestone, husked, and ground into masa for making tortillas.        

The newly opened Gracias Madre sports another pair of love-children-of-the-corn, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, who use a mixture of yellow and white corn from their own Be Love Farm in Vacaville, and corn from Mexico which is cooked and ground on the premises. The restaurant employs a team dedicated to making tortillas.

Gracias Madre boasts a vegan and GMO-free menu based loosely on Mexican-American cuisine, and the Englehart’s own play on Mexican flavors. I don’t know if they are aware of the multitude of vegetarian dishes in Mexico—especially in the south—but they manage to offer something interesting and in line with what vegans in L.A. will appreciate.

The tacos are a good way to go, but perhaps the best way to enjoy this Madre’s tortillas is with a simple order of guacamole, because these tortillas shine on their own. The natural flavors of the corn, transformed by thousands of years of tradition, can be tasted in every bite. Muchas Gracias, Madre. Gracias Madre, 8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323-978-2170.