Guac This Way

Organic, fast-casual Mexican arrives in Venice

Tacos in a lettuce shell
On the curated menu at Tocaya Organica are organic tacos, burritos, wraps, tamales and more. (Photos: Ryan Forbes)

June 29, 2017

When the organic, upscale Mexican spot Toca Madera opened last summer, we gushed about everything from the pomegranate seed-studded guacamole to the super-sexy scene.

Now, Toca’s new fast-casual sister restaurant Tocaya Organica has arrived in Venice (coming also to West Hollywood soon)—and it’s a (plantain) chip off the old block.

Tocaya is considerably more laidback than Toca, with an order-at-the-counter format and a beach-shack vibe. The menu is much more informal, with customizable bowls, salads, tacos and burritos. But the conscientious sourcing, super-fresh Mexican flavors and abundant vegetarian and vegan options prove that this organic apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

The interior of Tocaya Organica
One look at the modern interior and you’ll know Tocaya isn’t your typical madre’s Mexican cantina.

With rare exceptions, Tocaya’s produce is certified organic and local; it’s the driving force of the menu. All of the dishes start off as vegan (and gluten-free, except for the flour tortilla-wrapped burritos), and then you add your protein and queso (cheese) of choice.

We especially loved the arugula salad ($12)—tossed with tequila-soaked raisins, crunchy marcona almonds and chipotle honey-lime vinaigrette—and the sweet potato-green lentil bowl ($12), packed with garbanzo beans, cilantro-infused brown rice and pickled onions. Taco-wise ($3), standouts include the fresh-tasting “Cali green,” a butter lettuce “shell” stuffed with jicama slaw, and the “barrio style” option, a corn tortilla filled with tomatillo salsa, avocado and red onion.

What goes on top? Vegans can opt for soyrizo (ground soy “sausage” with spices and chilies) or chipotle-dusted tofu (both non-GMO), along with a choice of surprisingly tasty vegan cheeses made from tapioca and arrowroot. Meat eaters can choose from wild-caught mahi mahi or free-range meats including organic chicken (grilled or stewed with chilies), organic chipotle ground turkey or that Toca favorite, grass-fed carne asada (+$1.95); add organic queso fresco or pepper jack cheese.

And, much to our delight, you can get Toca’s insanely good guacamole ($3) here, too—with plantain chips, naturally.

Tocaya Organica
1715 Pacific Ave., Venice
(424) 744-8692