This Upland Vegan Mexican Restaurant Added Eggs and Dairy to Their Menu During the Pandemic, and Now They Have One of the Inland Empire’s Best Breakfast Burritos

0

Welcome to LA TACO’s newest column, “The IE Spin,” where we’ll bring you the latest snack bomb spots and things to know when driving to visit family who’s moved there or to relax. in the high desert or the mountains. Our first story takes us to the big bad…Upland.

As a vegetarian andsquint in the early 2000s, Desayuno, before school, was a scrambled egg, half a slice of American cheese, a strip of MorningStar Veggie Bacon and a squirt of Del Scorcho, sneaking out of a wheat tortilla, rolled up in a tight little flute. It was a breakfast burrito, but it wasn’t a full breakfast burrito. A Breakfast Burrito, as it’s called up and down Califas, is the size of a baby; a pillow of eggs, the crunch of hash browns, a slice of bacon, stuck together with a hug of cheese and wrapped in a flour tortilla.

I knew the difference, even if I couldn’t taste it. I could get closer, of course, no bacon, no problem. Add avocado and call it a compromise. Yet when you eat BBs, you navigate every bite, guess every chew, and pray there’s no chorizo ​​stowaway. (In the best places, there always are.)

AT Mother Tierra in Upland, there is no doubt. Their Veggie Breakfast Burrito is heaven for vegetarians across the deep Southland.

Madre Tierra opened in Upland in 2018 as a 100% vegan restaurant, serving traditional Mexican dishes and Mexican sushi. But this burrito was born in the summer of 2021, when MadreTierra owner Leo Gomez expanded the menu to include dairy and eggs.

Madre Tierra’s story begins over 20 years ago in Lynwood, where Leo grew up after immigrating from Mexico with his family. Before Leo and before the plant-based menu, his parents, Irais and Lalo Gomez, operated loncheras outside of T-shirt factories in Los Angeles. They are immigrants from Toluca, Estado De Mexico, and the pan dulce and coffee strategically sold by the Gomezes at 1 a.m. to migrant cemetery workers looking to warm up with something familiar.

Over time, they learned the factory break times and were ready to warm the bodies at every bell. The loncheras sold an assortment of familiar dishes, including tacos, burgers and pupusas, as well as coffee and pastries.

Leo’s food journey began as a child on these loncheras, helping his father pre-pack agua frescas in the summer for workers to grab and then return to their break. At 18, Leo started driving trucks on his own. Three years later, in 2016, Leo and his family moved to IE, ready to open a restaurant. Irais suggested the name, Madre Tierra. “My mother inspired the name itself,” said Leo Gomez. But Madre Tierra wasn’t the first restaurant the Gomez family opened in the Inland Empire. Before that, GuasaveRoll, which serves Mexican sushi in Ontario, a few blocks from what is now Madre Tierra.

“The location was too big and the sushi was selling out, but not enough,” Gomez said. To save the business, Leo’s sister Cinthya suggested adding vegan sushi to the menu to attract customers. At the time, she had been a vegan for two years, running her pop-ups to save the business.

Cinthya offered to help with the recipes, and together she and Leo created three new 100% plant-based items inspired by their most popular non-vegan rolls. The replacement sushi was a hit. “Eventually we started to outdo regular sushi with vegan food, so we got rid of the real stuff,” Leo Gomez said. Still, the family decided to leave GuasaveRoll behind.

Outside of Madre Tierra.

Enter Madre Tierra’s Veggie Breakfast Burrito, a wave of melted cheese that gives way to crispy hash browns, then a scrambled egg drop. It’s an ooey, gooey bite that finally reveals the smoky crunch of meatless bacon.

The burrito includes eggs, cheese, hash browns, avocado, homemade vegan gravy, and vegan bacon. The “bacon” doesn’t overpower the bite and adds a depth and smoke that most counterfuns can’t capture. Avocado can only be described as a speed bump, a glorious globe of creamy grease begging you to slow down and enjoy every bite.

The burrito includes eggs, cheese, hash browns, avocado, homemade vegan gravy, and vegan bacon. The “bacon” doesn’t overpower the bite and adds a depth and smoke that most counterfuns can’t capture. Avocado can only be described as a speed bump, a glorious globe of creamy grease begging you to slow down and enjoy every bite. The house sauce is savory but gets lost in the hash browns, a salty pocket of crunch and fat that’s familiar and brings the burrito home. Everything is wrapped in a fluffy flour tortilla for seamless delivery.

But the Vegetarian Breakfast Burrito wasn’t much of an idea in the early months of Madre Tierra. In March 2020, after 11 months of continued success, Madre Tierra was still committed to a 100% vegan menu. In 2020, when COVID started to sweep through California, Leo decided to shut down a week ahead of the government’s mandate. For months, the company made the necessary adjustments to stay in business in accordance with the government, going through periods of closing its doors due to labor shortages or COVID spikes.

In the winter, despite their best efforts and a decent summer, the family was almost forced to close for good. “Last December, I was ready to close, and there was no money. Luckily with the PPP we were able to survive a bit longer,” Gomez said.

The conditions make it harder every day for Madre Tierra to stay competitive. And yet, Leo says his main motivation for adding dairy and eggs to his menu wasn’t financial. “As someone who is neither vegan nor even vegetarian, I never felt comfortable running a vegan restaurant and was losing inspiration with vegan food,said Gomez.

With the help of the Paycheck Protection Program, enacted as part of the CARES Act in 2020, Madre Tierra was able to secure a loan in January 2021 that kept them afloat. Although helpful, the loan was not enough to tackle a protracted pandemic crisis.

Since January, Leo has uncovered new issues, including ingredient supply shortages, labor shortages, ongoing COVID risks and rapidly rising production prices, which have only aggravated the issues. conditions. Moreover, he noticed that a new labor market demands higher wages. “I saw that McDonald’s was paying $24 an hour. As a small business, how can I compete with this? But at the end of the day, people have to make money,” Gomez said.

The conditions make it harder every day for Madre Tierra to stay competitive. And yet, Leo says his main motivation for adding dairy and eggs to his menu wasn’t financial. “As someone who is neither vegan nor even vegetarian, I never felt comfortable running a vegan restaurant and was losing inspiration with vegan food,said Gomez.

However, their menu is already inspired even beyond the Vegetarian Breakfast Burrito. In addition to the burrito, I try a series of Leo’s favorite vegan dishes: enchiladas suizas, coconut shrimp tacos, and a signature cocktail, the Tizoc. I also get a vegan breakfast burrito, to be fair. The enchiladas have jackfruit which is miraculously tough and not sour and a green salsa which is balanced with a flavorful bite. The vegan cheese is believable and the cashew cream is smooth. This is an instant favorite as a plate combined with beans, I know for sure they don’t have lard.

Shrimp tacos: So crispy! Fresh, tangy, crunchy, with a tasty corn tortilla and excellent chewy shrimp. And the Tizoc, named after a film of the same name, starring Pedro Infante, was prepared to perfection by Sarai at the bar, with tequila, triple sec, lime, cucumber, jalapeno and of Grand Marnier.

For vegans, the vegan burrito is excellent, and it goes where a tofu scramble wouldn’t dare. Egg is a soy-based fried egg substitute that I had never tried before.

Leo is happy with his decision to expand his menu and he sees vegetarian food as a more accessible bridge for diners to cross. “For every vegan, there are a hundred non-vegans, and it’s easier for them when there’s cheese and eggs,” Gomez said.

Although it’s easy for him to say, many of Madre Tierra’s most committed vegans disagreed and spoke up when the official announcement was made on Instagram, but Gomez accepts it. bluntly: “The backlash was expected. A lot of people were upset, and they were leaving bad comments, bad reviews, and I get it.

Throughout our conversation, I sense that Leo takes pride in his food. He wears a baseball cap with the MT logo on the front. And he should be proud. He’s only 26 and he’s already survived a pandemic as a restaurateur. The food is great, and the monster of a burrito that brought us together is the culmination of not just recipes, but an ability to move when the time is right, even when it seems wrong.

Madre Tierra is still going, but so is COVID. I ask Leo how he can keep his spirits up despite all the ups and downs. His response: “What I appreciate the most are the people who have stuck with me throughout the pandemic. The same core that’s been here from the start is the same core that’s still here.

220 N Central Avenue, Upland, CA 91786

Share.

Comments are closed.