First off, a bit about this newish One Paseo thing happening Carmel Valley. It’s a 23.6-acre mixed-use development at the southwest corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real. It’s across the street from the Cinepolis I frequent when I’m in the mood for a luxury movie experience. Its soft opening was in March 2019 and when done will have a total of 96,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, 280,000 square feet of office space and 608 luxury apartments and it looked like all that was close to being completed on my visit recently.
Tocaya Organica is one of several restaurants in the booming fast-casual segment and their differentiator is modern, organic Mexican food with many vegan and vegetarian options though there is meat to be found on the menu. Tocaya Organica features tacos, salads, bowls, and burritos made with organic produce, hormone-free meat and sustainable seafood.
Let’s start with the breakfast burrito, a low-carb, gluten-free tortilla stuffed with organic cage-free eggs, black bean puree, tricolor peppers, caramelized onions, poblano peppers and tomatillo salsa. It’s a healthier, yet just as delicious way to do a breakfast burrito and that is their angle here, all the flavor of your favorite Mexican joint with none of the guilt.
There is a selection of salads but we started with the bowls for something a bit more substantial. The bowls offer something light without being a salad, packed with fresh vegetables and beans or street corn. The Keto Bowl includes Spanish-style cauliflower rice, sautéed peppers, jalapeño cabbage, avocado, black olives and salsa. I added some carne asada, which of course is high-quality grass-fed skirt steak grilled with a cilantro jalapeno marinade, coriander and cumin. It’s very tasty.
I should probably back up here and explain the ordering process. First you pick your salad, taco, burrito, bowl or quesadilla, of which there is a plethora of options. Next pick your protein and queso (cheese). Proteins include Diablo Chicken, Chicken Tinga, Achiote Chicken, Carne Asada, Beef Chorizo, Turkey Picante, Catch of the Day fish, Tomatillo Shrimp, Cilantro Lime Vegan Chick’n, Adobo Tofu or Vegan Picadillo. Queso options include Fresco, Oaxaca, Cotija, Jack and Vegan Mozzarella and Jack. You’ve seen this formula before at other fast casual joints so it’s easy to navigate and there are a lot of delicious combinations to create.
The side dishes are equally impressive with a fabulous guacamole that comes sprinkled with pomegranate and lime pepita seeds and a combination of tortilla and plantain chips. Street Corn with cotija cheese and chipotle powder is another solid pick. Other options here include Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Spanish Cauliflower Rice, Tortilla Soup and the vegan friendly Spicy Chick’n Soup.
While they don’t have a full liquor license yet, the bar also serves up margaritas and wine. The alcohol base of the margaritas is Sabe Blanco sake and is 6% ABV. I’ve been seeing this happening more often in restaurants without full liquor and it’s a nice option. Sabe Blanco originates in Jalisco, Mexico, where a master distiller heightens the crisp, clean flavors of slow cooked agave. This blanco tequila is blended into craft produced saké and then finished with natural flavors. Margarita flavors include Prickly Pear, Passion Fruit, Tamarind, Spicy and Strawberry. We sampled a few and they were all quite tasty.
Non-alcoholic beverages include Mexican Coke, which is the cane sugar version and, in my opinion, the superior Coke. Watermelon, Cucumber Mint and Strawberry Basil Aquas Frescas are happening along with Iced Teas and Horchata.
Please save room for dessert as it is definitely worth it. The Churro Waffle Bites with a choice of vegan Callebaut chocolate or strawberry dipping sauce are amazing and addictive. The Barrio Fruit Bowl tossed in lime and Tajin is really good as well. My favorite though was the Sweet Corn Tamale served with roasted tomato salsa. It was like a super moist cornbread and I could have eaten a few of those.
Tocaya Organica has a “bohemian and Tulum-inspired design aesthetic” as they put it, with plenty of natural wood and materials, green plants and succulents. It’s kid-friendly and the space also features a large outdoor patio with fire pits.
For more information and the full menu, visit tocayaorganica.com.
Coast News Lick the Plate columnist David Boylan is celebrating 10 years and 500 columns with the Coast News in 2019! His feature covers the ever expanding North County culinary scene that includes restaurants, culinary personalities, trends, observations, tributes and his popular takeover column where area businesses, bands or teams contribute to the column. Lick the Plate has also been a popular radio show for the past eight years in San Diego on 100.7 KFMB, and on stations in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan. Besides the column and radio show, David runs Tatonka Digital & Analog, a boutique marketing agency headquartered in Oceanside, California. Reach him with show suggestions at email@example.com or www.lick-the-plate.com