Now there's a healthier option for a casual bite near Venice Beach with Tocaya Organica. Beach goers can enjoy organic, non GMO, hormone free, fresh ingredients, made to order.
I've written about Barnyard Venice on Pacific Avenue not once, but twice here and here. Things started strong when Chef Jesse Barber was in the kitchen, but after he left, the place never achieved great success, even though it's in a pretty high traffic area. Given that it's a hot space right near the beach, the property was snatched up and a new restaurant has already opened, Tocaya Organica.
Tocaya Organica isn't entirely new. There's a Tocaya restaurant in West Hollywood and a flagship Toca Madera in Beverly Grove with a full sit down healthy Mexican menu. What they're doing at all locations is working with local farmers, which I believe is now a prerequisite when opening a restaurant in Los Angeles, but they're going a step further.
You'll find only fresh, sustainable, and where possible, organic ingredients at Tocaya. They don't use GMOs and are 100% free from hormones, steroids and antibiotics. Nothing is fried or frozen, and everything is cooked to order. All of this is in pretty stark contrast to the other neighboring Venice Beach options, where you can get a free side of steroids in most places.
The space is very casual at Tocaya Organics. You order at a counter from a tight list of salads, tacos, burritos and bowls. It's a build your own type set-up where you pick your protein from organic cilantro jalapeno skirt steak to orange spiced free-range chicken breast to vegan soyrizo and chipotle dusted tofu. You can also pick your own queso like jalapeno jack and three different types of vegan cheeses.
If you want to check out some sides, then grab a taco combo ($10.50) that includes two choices like quinoa salad, sweet potato hash with vegan jalapeno and guacamole with pomegranate, lime pepitas. Some pretty addicting homemade plantain chips come with the guac and you also can get a side of them on their own, and you should.
Tocaya Venice is now serving beer and wine, and they also have an interesting selection of agua frescas and iced tea.
I think turning this spot into a more casual restaurant is a good idea. Venice Beach goers can walk-in and grab a quick bite to bring back to the sand, or eat there, inside or out. The food is healthy, but flavorful, with a reasonable price point, so I can only hope Tocaya Organics is here to stay longer than their predecessors.