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The Short Version: The three locations of Los Angeles Oaxacan restaurant Madre bring an authentic Mexican experience for diners who want to surround themselves with the food, art, and music that makes Oaxaca so special. The combination of delicious authentic cuisine, beautiful murals, and lively music make Madre the perfect location for a date night or a wedding reception.
Nothing will transport you to another place and time quite like food. When it’s done right, a restaurant can show you and your partner a different culture through its menu, decor, and ambiance.
Ivan Vasquez, the owner of Madre, set out to do exactly that. Vasquez has worked in the restaurant industry since he was 16 when he moved to the United States as an undocumented immigrant. He washed dishes in Santa Monica to make ends meet but dreamed of opening a restaurant that introduced Los Angeles to the Mexican cuisine of his childhood.
Vasquez found that no Mexican restaurant in Southern California came close to his mother’s cooking in Mexico, so he set out to bring the flavors of Oaxaca to the region. Now, he owns three restaurants, all of which speak to the vibrance of Mexican cuisine and culture and function as a living tribute to his mother’s cooking.
Madre is filled with servers who are young, attentive, and committed to Vasquez’s dream of feeding Southern California authentic Oaxacan cuisine. Some of them even speak Mexican dialects. It’s the perfect date — or wedding reception — destination for a couple who wants to surround themselves with traditional Mexican culture and feel like they’re being transported away from Los Angeles and into Mexico.
From the hole-in-the-wall Culver City location that feels like a Mexican bar to the Torrance location that buzzes with live Latin music, a date at Madre will make you feel like you’re in Mexico. The former is for a cozier, more intimate experience, whereas the latter is perfect for a lively exploration of Mexican culture. A large mural at the West Hollywood location celebrates the tradition and history of mezcal, allowing you to enjoy phenomenal food and gorgeous artwork. Some servers speak Mexican dialects, and the menu is authentic to local Mexican cuisine, so a meal will transport you to another place.
“The artists came from Mexico to do this mural… we try to show the culture of the different regions of Oaxaca,” said Vasquez. “We have the music, the ambiance, but it’s something casual for Los Angeles; something that is designed for every single Angelino to have a date.”
The ambiance is perfect for a date. “It’s like a little Mexico City bar at night,” said Vasquez. “We have several couples that are going there because of the ambiance, the food, the service, and the energy of these people.”
It’s also an educational experience in addition to being a delicious dinner spot; the bartenders give demonstrations of mezcal techniques and allow couples and groups to sit and observe the bartenders as they make drinks. Madre allows you and your partner to learn about a different culture in addition to just indulging in its cuisine.
Madre takes diners on a flavor journey, from drinks to dessert. One of the most popular cocktails, Chapo y Kate, is named after the controversial story of drug lord El Chapo and movie star Kate del Castillo. The drink is a spicy cucumber juice tequila that keeps locals returning.
“We have people bring in other people just for that cocktail,” Vasquez said. In addition to an enormous mezcal selection, Madre also carries Mexican wine and beer, which is authentic to the Mexico City bars that served as Vasquez’s inspiration.
When it comes to food, you can’t go wrong. Madre has a delicious Oaxaca sampler for those who are unfamiliar with the cuisine that features different meats like chorizo and cecina, as well as a variety of delicious barbacoa dishes and classic Mexican options like empanadas and quesadillas. Dessert options include homemade churros and flan, which never disappoint.
Vasquez’s restaurants are perfect for couples who want to expand their horizons and test out new dishes, while still serving dishes that are popular in Mexican-American cuisine.
Madre is the perfect wedding destination, both for couples who want to hark back to their Mexican roots and for those who simply love the culture surrounding Mexican cuisine.
Madre’s Torrance location has a semi-private room that can accommodate up to 45 people. The best part? The room has a glass divider, so guests can still listen to live music and see the enormous mezcal selection. Vasquez doesn’t take music choices lightly, hiring Grammy-nominated musicians to play for diners and large groups. “The music isn’t loud,” Vasquez said. “It’s just quality.” He said he selects musicians for their skill, their reputation, and their ability to cater to Madre’s clientele, which is respectful and family-oriented. Getting to experience such art at your wedding reception is an irreplaceable experience.
The location also has ample space to fit all the guests you want. “We can handle 250 people in Torrance because they can buy out the bar, which is a beautiful bar that is connected with a patio,” Vasquez said. The location can accommodate graduation parties, weddings, and even baptisms. The outdoor patio lets guests enjoy the beautiful Los Angeles weather while keeping them immersed in Madre’s music and artwork.
Vasquez also does private mezcal tastings for wedding parties, transforming the reception into an experience that is both fun and educational. The mezcal tasting will set the wedding aside from others, giving guests a unique and personal experience.
Every couple wants the night of their wedding to be alive with music, entertainment, and culture. Madre is sure to fit the bill, thanks to Vasquez and his staff’s commitment to bringing guests the best of Mexico. Book Madre two months in advance to secure the private room, and prepare for a beautiful evening that takes you away from Southern California.