Healthy Modern Mexican Cuisine at Tocaya Organica

If there is one cuisine that is synonymous with California, it is Mexican food. But, one thing you usually don’t hear is healthy Mexican food. That is, until you eat at Tocaya Organica.

I have been passing different Tocaya Organica locations a lot lately. I see them everywhere, which makes sense as they have grown to twelve locations across Los Angeles and into San Diego and Arizona since starting in Venice in 2016. I finally ventured inside the Santa Monica location and was greeted by the welcoming signature fresh, bright, modern decor with teal and gold touches and lots of greenery on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

Tocaya Organica is a fast-casual concept serving up “modern organic Mexican” food. The menu features locally sourced produce as part of their commitment to serve natural and sustainable ingredients. All meats and fish served are fresh and 100% free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics. Using the highest quality ingredients, Tocaya Organica serves flavorful dishes rooted in traditional Mexican recipes, such as tacos and burritos. And, no matter your dietary restrictions, Tocaya Organica has something for you as many of the dishes are vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-free.

A popular location, the line was almost out the door when we arrived. At Tocaya Organica, you order at the counter and then take your number to a table. We sat at the bar and I started with a refreshing glass of strawberry basil limeade.

And, of course an order was placed for guacamole (because I can never not order guacamole). Fresh chunks of avocado were topped with pomegranate seeds, lime pepitas, jalapeño and cilantro and we enjoyed with corn chips, as well as house-made plantain chips.

Whether you chose salads, bowls, tacos or burritos, you can also choose your protein. Each item comes with a suggestion from the chef but you are free to select Diablo chicken (grilled free-range chicken breast tossed in signature buffalo sauce), chicken tinga (shredded free-range chicken breast stewed with chipotle en adobo, tomatoes, onion & poblano chiles), achiote chicken (orange spice marinated grilled free-range chicken breast), turkey picante (free-range ground turkey with spicy chipotle, habanero peppers & cumin), carne molida (all-natural ground beef sautéed with onion, garlic, tomatoes & spices), carne asada (USDA prime grilled skirt steak with cilantro jalapeño marinade, coriander & cumin), halibut (chipotle-rubbed seared halibut), adobo tofu (marinated with tomato, garlic, yellow onion & chipotle adobo) and vegan picadillo (a signature blend of beyond meat, vegetables & spices). You can also select the cheese you want, from queso fresco, jalapeño jack and queso manchego to vegan mozzarella and vegan pepper jack. 

The Tostada Salad is a heap of shredded romaine and butter lettuce on a crispy corn tortilla layered with black beans, roma tomato, diced red onion, corn salsa and spicy citrus dressing. While the chef recommended turkey picante, we opted for chicken tinga and then topped with quesa fresco. I could eat this salad for dinner every night. It has all the flavor that I love in a typical tostada but without all of the sour cream.

We also enjoyed a couple tacos. There are four taco options and we followed the chefs recommendations on the proteins. Do note that when they say something is spicy, it is. The Cali is avocado onion salsa with achiote chicken and manchego. The Barrio is roasted tomato salsa, avocado, diced red onion & cilantro with carne molida and jalapeño jack.

The Baja is shaved cabbage, sweet chipotle sauce, cilantro and vegan chipotle crema with halibut and jalapeño jack. The Tulum is charred bell pepper, red onion & habanero, with arbol salsa and grilled pineapple and chicken tinga and queso fresco.

Affordable, casual and full of flavor, next time I pass a Tocaya Organica, I will be heading inside.

Tocaya Organica Locations