By Greg Thilmont
Set on a prominent corner location in leafy, walkable Kierland Commons, the recently opened Tocaya Organica is a head-turner.
With abundant picture windows, hanging globe lamps, gleaming tilework and attractively potted greenery, the aesthetically pleasing eatery makes for an inviting spot to dine on what it terms “modern Mexican fresh-casual” cuisine. The menu, which covers lunch and dinner hours, is filled with healthy ingredients ranging from free-range chicken, USDA prime skirt steak and a spicy house blend of Beyond Meat vegan picadillo to jalapeño cabbage, quinoa and pomegranate seeds.
According to restaurant founder Tosh Berman, the colorful array of healthful offerings were brought together to meet contemporary consumer demand.
“For the first time ever, masses can crave healthy food,” Berman says. “We have found a way to make healthy food craveable, and people almost don’t even realize they’re eating healthy.”
Founded in 2016 in Los Angeles’ eclectic beachside neighborhood of Venice, this marks the first Tocaya Organica location in Arizona. (A second destination in Scottsdale Fashion Square is now open, too.) Berman notes that he created the restaurant collection from a personal commitment to healthy dining.
“Even in the way we cook our food, we think of it in terms of how we cook for ourselves and our families, he says.
As Tocaya Organica has a focus on Mexican food traditions, tortillas are to be expected. Indeed, the restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes made with the foldable Central American flatbreads. First up, tacos galore. The menu features four flavor combinations including the spicy Cali with housemade avocado-onion salsa and the mellow Barrio with roasted tomato salsa. Guests top up the corn tortillas with the protein of their choice—10 varieties of chicken, beef, turkey, fish and vegetable-based fillings—plus five different kinds of cheese (two of which are vegan). Butter lettuce shells are also available for the carb-conscious.
There are also substantial burritos on the menu; they come with classic plain wheat or jalapeño-enhanced tortillas. The house standards include a version stuffed with black beans, cilantro-lime rice, diced red onion, cilantro and árbol chili pepper salsa. There’s also the veggie-packed fajita burrito replete with sauteéd peppers, cilantro-lime rice, black beans, vegan chipotle crema, guacamole and pico de gallo. The seasonal menu includes an astounding gluten-free burrito made with a low-carb coconut and cassava flour tortilla crafted by the Siete Family Foods company. It’s rolled around Spanish-style cauliflower rice, black beans, tri-color bell peppers, jalapeño cabbage and vegan chipotle sauce. Just like with tacos, they are finished with diner’s choices of proteins and cheeses.
Tocaya Organica’s tortilla-centric selections round out with quesalitas — quesadillas made with cornmeal disks. Fillings include a combination of mushrooms with jalapeño peppers, as well as green chilis with onions. Again, protein and cheese favorites are added in.
The savory side of the menu also includes enthusiastic salads like the Summer of Love: a cornucopia of romaine lettuce, pomegranate seeds, cucumber, organic strawberries, grilled corn, chipotle-dusted almonds and mint brought together with strawberry-sherry vinaigrette. The green shredded kale and quinoa salad is bursting with white beans, avocado, chipotle-dusted almonds, lime-enhanced pepitas, pico de gallo and red wine vinaigrette. A quartet of bowls includes the popular Fajita del Rey with sizzled peppers and onions, as well as a keto-friendly assembly featuring the eatery’s fragrant cauliflower rice and sauteed Brussels sprouts. Add in proteins and cheeses, too.
For sides, Tocaya Organica’s roster includes bowls of guacamole with pomegranate seeds and pepitas; street corn with cotija cheese and chipotle powder; tortilla soup with tomatoes, roasted bell pepper and avocado; and green chili-white bean soup with roasted corn niblets.
When it comes to dessert, choose among the Barrio fruit bowl with zesty Tajín powder and lime juice; a sweet corn tamale with roasted tomato salsa; and churro-style waffle bites with either vegan Callebaut chocolate or strawberry dipping sauce.
There’s also a kids’ menu with burritos, tacos, quesadillas and chicken strips served with a child-sized glass of agua fresca — fruit coolers in watermelon, mint-cucumber and strawberry-basil flavors.
This brings on Tocaya Organica’s extensive beverage service. There’s a full line of coffee, from cold brew to cappuccinos, plus teas and chai. Icy glasses include coconut-ginger green tea and a crimson berry infusion. In true Mexican style, horchata is offered, both cold on ice and steaming in a latte. To rehydrate after epic shopping, reach for coconut water from Harmless Harvest, or revivify with cold-pressed juice sips from Little West. Get effervescent with Topo Chico or San Pellegrino sparkling water.
For adult beverages, the cocktail selection includes the seasonal special Skinny Coco-Piña margarita with ginger- and coconut-infused Casamigos tequila, pineapple, lime and stevia for a sweetener.
Seating choices are varied at Tocaya Organica. Up front, a breezy patio and adjacent interior open space are both perfect for quick solo visits or informal get-togethers with friends. For larger gatherings like business lunches or leisurely family dinners, the spacious back dining room features a display kitchen behind a glass wall. The action-packed view makes for a vibrant vibe while experiencing the restaurant’s exciting healthy fare. ν