Tocaya Organica upgrades the Hercules Campus dining scene with healthy and stylish Mexican food
By Shanee Edwards
“We’re saving the world one taco at a time,” says Tosh Berman, co-owner of the entirely organic Mexican fast-casual restaurant Tocaya Organica.
A rapidly growing franchise, Tocaya Organica celebrated its Playa Vista opening on July 7 with a ribbon cutting fiesta conducted by the LAX Chamber of Commerce. With locations already thriving in Venice and Santa Monica, Berman says coming to Playa Vista was the perfect next step.
“Since we’re developing the only real 100% organic fast-casual brand, Playa Vista seemed like a good fit for high-end, quality cuisine.”
Berman notes that there were other factors at play for choosing Playa Vista, including its close proximity to the freeway and, of course, the hungry workforce coming into the area during the week. And he just didn’t think healthier cuisine was being well represented here.
According to Berman, Tocaya’s food isn’t special just because it’s healthy and organic: “The reality is we’re just great Mexican. It checks all the boxes for people who want healthy food, but it also checks all the boxes for people who just want great food.”
The concept behind the menu is to first choose your dish: a salad, bowl, tacos or burrito. From there, you choose your protein: carne asada, turkey picante, chicken tinga, seabass, vegan picadillo or chipotle-dusted tofu. (An upcharge may apply for the beef and fish options.) Desserts include a churro waffle ice cream sandwich and cinnamon chia pudding.
The restaurant is located in the smartly remodeled space that was formerly home to Chicken or the Egg, a breakfast/lunch concept that unfortunately failed to hatch. The poultry-based eatery lasted less than a year.
Exuding confidence, Berman claims he isn’t worried his restaurant will meet the same fate. In fact, the Playa Vista location had the biggest opening two days in the history of the entire brand — and their soft-opening only included lunch service.
Additionally, Berman says 35% to 40% of his business comes from third party to go/take-out services like Postmates, Grubhub and Eat24 — “perfect for all the residents who live in the area and the thousand plus workers in the neighborhood.”
Berman says the Playa Vista location is his favorite store design, and it’s easy to see why. Ball jars painted turquoise-blue serve as utensil holders, and small succulent arrangements reflect the desert landscape. But the true gem is the indoor sign that reads “Barrio Style” spelled out with globe marquis-style light bulbs.
While the indoor area of the restaurant is inspired and inviting, Berman is now turning his attention to the outdoor eating area.
“The patio is going to be amazing. We have these sunshades and heat lamps, and I think at night this will be a really fun destination if you want a casual hang-out spot where you can have some great food. And, eventually, we’ll have a liquor license to serve beer, wine and margaritas.”
He estimated adding alcohol to the menu is four or five months down the road, but all the paperwork has been filed.
Tocaya Organica is at 12150 Millennium Drive, Ste. 101. The restaurant currently validates tickets for the building’s parking structure. (424) 289-6105; tocayaorganica.com