A bartender making a fiery Los Muertos cocktail.
A common Latin American expression resonates for those who have been to Toca Madera, a Southern California-based concept: “Ves burro y se te antoja viaje.” Loosely translated it means, “You see a donkey and now you want a trip” or, in other words, if someone has something appealing, we crave it too. They have seen the hauntingly sexy decor, tasted the rich Oaxacan mole negro made with more than two dozen rich ingredients, sipped on a fiery Amante Picante margarita ($17) and jammed to the sounds provided by a DJ every night of the week. Now we do not need to travel across state lines to experience it, as another one just opened in Scottsdale Fashion Square. (At this moment, it is totally OK to knock on wood since that is what toca madera means.)
According to one of the concept’s co-founders, The Madera Group CEO Tosh Berman, we are in for a truly tantalizing adventure. “Toca Madera is superunique,” he explains. “It’s what I like to call high-end, high-energy fine dining. It [is] more than just dinner service. It’s more of an experience—almost a show!” He should know: Toca Madera’s sister restaurants, the fast-casual Tocaya Organica, has been a hit with locals since it opened at the mall and in Kierland Commons within the past year.
Along with an indoor-outdoor dining room, the newly constructed Toca Madera will have some elements the California sites do not, including an interactive ceviche bar where patrons can watch chefs infuse Mexican magic into the traditionally Peruvian dish with the addition of ingredients like avocado and pomegranate seeds. But the brand’s signature tableside guacamole ($15); hot rock plates with proteins including American wagyu and marinated tofu ($32 to $95); vegan-friendly dishes like the cilantro “chicken” tacos ($13); and the decadent churro volcano ($15)—an ice cream sandwich with caramel and chocolate sauces—remain. Lest we forget the tableside beverage cart and its “farm-to-glass” mixology program, which invites ingredients like charcoal, prickly pear and butterfly flowers to the party.
Vegan mushroom soyrizo tacos
Those planning to indulge in excessive amounts of smoky mezcal might want to learn one more Mexican expression, in case they hear it being uttered in their presence: “Estar hasta las chanclas.” Though there is no literal English translation, it means something along the lines of getting so drunk that you lose your shoes and end up in flip-flops. Thankfully Toca Madera’s Fashion Square Mall address means it is a straight shot to Neiman Marcus. Drink up. 4736 N. Goldwater Blvd., 480.478.0157
Sashimi Mexicano with ahi tuna, sliced cucumber, radish, avocado, pomegranate seeds, leche de tigre, chile de arbol
Photography by: Photos courtesy of Toca Madera