Food and drinks come out with a bang at the recently opened Tu Madre restaurant in Santa Monica. Flights of margaritas are served accompanied by a sizzling firecracker and colorful flowers adorn cocktails and the restaurant’s signature red velvet churros.
Located at 6th and Broadway, the Santa Monica spot is Tu Madre’s fifth location. Since starting as a small but colorful taco stand in Westwood in 2013, the Mexican restaurant has expanded throughout the LA area with the goal of bringing bold flavors and a fun, festive atmosphere to local communities.
“We are having a party every day here with our tacos and margaritas,” General Manager Zach Boyce said. “Not like in a crazy way, but it’s just always a good time.”
While Tu Madre’s menu does include traditional street-style tacos, Boyce said they also strive to push boundaries with their food.
“The majority of our menu is made up from stuff that we came up with,” he said. “So, different takes on different cuisines.”
This includes a Korean BBQ-inspired taco served with kimchi and a sweet and sour sauce as well as an ahi tuna taco, which Boyce referred to as their “foray into sushi and Japanese” cooking. He added that they have an array of vegan and vegetarian options as well, with plant-based alternatives available for almost half of the menu.
Tu Madre is pushing the envelope on the drinks side of the menu as well, with a focus on agave as a star ingredient and cocktail combinations such as ginger, carrot, turmeric, lemon, Mexican chili liqueur and mezcal.
Beverage Director Travis Pentecost said he wants the drink menu to be authentic and use only the best ingredients, alcohol and liquors from Mexico, including Las Californias gin, Abasolo Corn whiskey and USDA-certified organic El Sativo tequila, which he noted is a difficult seal to obtain.
While this means a higher price tag for some drinks, Pentecost said he thinks customers will find the quality worth it. The restaurant also has a special happy hour menu with margaritas, Aperol Spritz and other drinks for as low as $10 as well as a variety of bites, which he thinks will appeal to all customers.
“There’s something for everybody on the menu,” he said. “If we have a table of six people, there’s going to be something available on the happy hour menu for each individual.”
Pentecost said the diversity of the menu and the laid-back atmosphere of the restaurant makes Tu Madre an ideal spot for larger groups and casual gatherings.
“That’s something that separates us from other restaurants,” he said. “It’s casual but polished — you can walk right in with your 10 friends and we can generally get you a table right away.”
To celebrate the new location, Tu Madre will be holding a grand opening event on Saturday, Oct. 22, during which they will offer a $1 El Sativo margarita or a $1 Don Julio Paloma per person for guests who follow them on Instagram. The restaurant is open every weekday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; from 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays; 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.