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There?s a whole lotta Mexican food in L.A., from homemade empanadas in Echo Park to celebrity chef fare on Melrose.

Now a new gem adds a unique facet to the spectrum: all-vegan Mexican cuisine.

Gracias Madre is the latest project from the restaurateurs whose plant-based menu at the Café Gratitude bistros on Larchmont Boulevard and Rose Avenue draws raves from even our most devout carnivore friends. Gracias Madre is likely to do the same, since it dishes up plates like handmade corn tacos ($14) heaped with seared cauliflower, grilled calabaza verde squash, mushrooms and cashew-based ?sour cream?; light chocolaty mole ($16); and steamy tamales ($13) made of masa and sautéed butternut squash. 

The flavorful, healthy fare alone is enough to make this a standout spot--but what turns it into a date-night destination is twofold: First, the restaurant has a totally sexy indoor-outdoor design. You?d be smart to come a good 30 minutes early for a margarita by the cozy deck fireplace or at the tiled bar. Second, if you need a little liquid assistance for your rendezvous, the 50 artisanal tequilas (from $9), tasting flights of mezcal (from $21) and organic agave cocktails will certainly do the trick. 

Gracias Madre, 8905 Melrose, W. Hollywood; 323-978-2170 or

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