Tocaya Organica: Inclusive Dining for Every Eater
This contributing writer attended a complimentary media introduction to Tocaya Organica
Photos and Story by Molly Cerreta Smith
The newest restaurant to join the ranks of Kierland Commons’ list of on-trend, healthy yet posh dining is Tocaya Organica. And I could not be happier. Because if you know anything about my cauliflower rice obsession, I’m excited to share that I’ve found my motherland.
Let me start from the beginning… but I promise, I’ll circle back to the cauliflower (it’s my favorite topic). Tocaya Organica is a healthy, quick-casual order-at-the-counter style restaurant dressed up to fit right in with Scottsdale’s finest. A far cry from the dark, red interior of its former inhabitant, Ra, the space has received a face-lift so it’s much more open, light and casually contemporary. The brand comes to us from California, with the intent to offer healthy organic-based and Mexican-inspired cuisine to all types of diners. What does that mean, you say? Well, the menu is naturally about 98 percent gluten free, with just three items that don’t fall into that category (the scrumptious Churro Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich among them).
There are also a number of ways to order so you can just as easily dine there if you are vegan, vegetarian or a keto-loving carnivore… and pretty much anything in between.
With multiple Mexican-inspired salads, bowls, tacos (with butter lettuce wraps as a light and refreshing “shell” alternative to traditional corn tortillas) and burritos to choose from, Tocaya keeps the choices coming with multiple options in the “proteins” and “queso” categories for diners to design their dish exactly as they like it. Ample protein choices include Diablo Chicken, Chicken Tinga, Carne Molida, Carne Asada, Turkey Picante, Halibut, Adobo Tofu and even Vegan Picadillo and queso toppings include Queso Fresco, Jalapeno Jack and Queso Manchego as well as Vegan Mozzarella and Vegan Chipotle Jack.
Instead of just serving up rice and beans to accompany the mains, Tocaya’s “Sides” category is decidedly more sophisticated with choices such as Street Corn, which can be made vegan, Sweet Potato Bravas, Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Guacamole with Hand-Cut Plantain Chips (which are almost see-through thin, super crispy and downright delightful), and… wait for it. Cauliflower. And here we are, back to the cauliflower. I always come back to the cauliflower.
The Diablo Cauliflower is roasted and tossed in Tocaya’s signature buffalo sauce, and the Spanish Cauliflower Rice makes the perfect bedding for their seasonal Keto Bowl, which we sampled the day I visited. This dish was visually delicious — with tri-colored peppers, red roma tomatoes and bright green avocado slices — and surprisingly indulgent. The Chicken Tinga I chose as my Protein added just the right amount of spice, and Spanish Cauliflower Rice could easily pass for Spanish rice rice, especially when combined with all the other flavors in the bowl. I could eat this bowl any day of the week.
We also sampled the Tostada Salad, a crispy plate of shredded romaine and butter lettuces piled high atop a crunchy corn tortilla layered with black beans, roma tomatoes, diced red onion, corn salsa and spicy citrus dressing. We chose Carne Asada for the protein on this one and it was just the right addition to transitions this salad from a starter to a hearty lunch or dinner.
On another visit, I enjoyed some tacos with their “chef recommendations.” The “Cali,” features avocado, onion and salsa, with the chef recommended achiote chicken and queso manchego; and the “Barrio,” with roasted tomato salsa, avocado, diced red onion, cilantro and the chef recommended Carne Molida (all-natural ground beef with onion, garlic and tomatoes) and jalapeno jack cheese toppings. I selected the butter lettuce “shell,” which made for a filling meal without that “heavy” feeling Mexican dining sometimes leaves behind.
To wash down those tacos, Tocaya features a refreshing selection of flavored iced teas and agua frescas (the Watermelon Limeade and Strawberry Basil Limeade are my favorites!), as well as specialty coffees, and a beer and cocktail selection with a killer happy hour from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily featuring $5 margaritas, $6 select wines by the glass or $20 by the bottle, $3 cervezas and $2 select menu bites. And let’s not forget Taco Tuesday! Guests can enjoy $2 tacos and happy hour drink prices all day on Tuesdays.
I’m so happy to have Tocaya right in my neighborhood and it has already become a regular hot spot for me to meet a friend or grab a quick bite to go. But if Kierland Commons isn’t on your radar, you’ll be pleased to know that the brand is quickly expanding with a second Arizona location set to open this spring. For more, check out www.tocayaorganica.com.