Dinner May 19, 2016 – Toca Madera – Los Angeles

Part of the beauty in living in the very hip 3rd Street area is all of the new fun dining spots coming in, Toca Madera doesn’t disappoint. Its fun, lively happening with the best Mexican inspired food that I have found in Los Angeles. On top of all of that, if you’re interested in seeing the young beautiful, hipster crowd you’re definitely in the right place.

Toca Madera opened in 2015, Toca Madera features a menu designed by Executive Chef Raymond Alvarez. The menu is designed as a creative, shared-plate format offering modern organic Mexican cuisine with fresh seasonal cocktails as well as a full, separate vegan menu with gluten-free options providing an array of options for every eater. Toca Madera is part of the group EDL (EveryDay Life), owned and operated by Tosh Berman and Amrou Manaseer, EveryDay Life is a team of artist-engineers dedicated to realizing the evolution of hospitality. Founded in 2013, EDL’s principals have collectively owned and operated an impressive portfolio of boutique hospitality venues across the U.S. and Mexico. Current venues include Cake Nightclub in Scottsdale, AZ and Toca Madera in West Hollywood, CA with exciting projects coming to San Diego, CA and Los Cabos, Mexico. www.edlmg.com.

Toca Madera, which translates to “knock on wood,” is an intimate 120-seat space that features a creative take on traditional Mexican cuisine designed by Executive Chef Raymond Alvarez. Chef Raymond refers to his culinary approach as “Barrio Style Fine Dining,” influenced by traditional Latin flavors, classical training and his favorite childhood dishes. Providing an array of options for every eater, Toca Madera’s menu incorporates a shared-plate format offering locally farm-sourced ingredients with an emphasis on organic as well as a full, separate vegan menu with gluten-free options.

“Toca Madera is a personal evolution in hospitality for Amrou and me,” says co-creator Tosh Berman. “Stemming from a passion for service & design along with our extensive history in nightlife, this venue is a representation of our maturity within an industry that we have made our life’s work.” “Toca Madera was conceived around a communal dining philosophy, and the menu was designed to have choices everyone can agree on, drinker or non-drinker, vegan or paleo,” says co-creator Amrou Manaseer. “There’s something primitive about sharing a meal with friends, old and new, under the stars and by the light of a fire – it’s something that we lost a long time ago but don’t realize how much we miss.”

Here’s What I Tried:


I skipped the wine at this wonderful tasting, hey when in Rome!! Each and every cocktail below were outstanding. Name your pleasure and you will not go wrong with any of these lovely well thought cocktails below!! Featuring a 100 ft. crystal-quartz island bar, Toca Madera offers the finest tequilas and mezcals, as well as a rotating selection of the world’s most interesting wines.

Toca Margarita with el jimador silver, combier, agave, lime, orange.

El Guapo/La Guapa with avion silver, Fresno chili, basil, lime, smoked sea salt.

La Bonita with herradura silver, strawberry, basil, lime, black pepper, alderwood salt rim.

Ghost Rider with el cartel blanco, mint, lime, agave.

East Los with el silencio mezcal, house citrus mix, guajillo-mango shrub, aperol, agave.

Amante Picante with don julio silver, serrano pepper, cilantro, lime, agave, tajin.

Agua Fresca with charred pineapple and cinnamon-infused ketel one, lemon, and coconut water.


Guacamole with locally sourced avocados, pomegranate seeds, lime pepitas, jalapeño and cilantro mixed tableside served with house-made crispy plantain chips. The plantains are such a better idea then typical tortilla chips. They also serve there freshly made tortillas in a box with honey butter and fresh made salsa, so all is good with this Mexican staple.

Cerviche, with fresh sea bass. Nice cubed pieces of sea bass and the avocado on top adds to the simplicity of this nice menu item.

Grilled Calamari with sautéed Spanish chorizo, garlic and chile flakes with white beans, in lime beurre blanc and toasted cotija crouton. It has lots of great garlic flavor, almost like an Italian calamari dish, but with more flair.

Sweet Corn Tamales with roasted pasilla chiles and fresh sweet corn,
served with fire-roasted tomato salsa and avocado tomatillo sauce. Sweet but not too sweet, these are simply the best corn tamales ever!

Taquitos al Gusto served with jalapeno cabbage slaw, queso fresco, avocado tomatillo salsa, pickled onions and crema, vegetable braised short rib. Large hearty taquitos, one of my favorite dishes, these gems will make you want more, they are delicious.

Truffle Chicken Tamale soft fluffy corn masa stuffed with chicken machaca and panela cheese with salsa diablo, corn relish and chipotle crema. The minute this dish hits your table you are overwhelmed with the truffle aroma, but in a good way, your taste buds will be tantalized.


Achiote Chicken Chopped Salad with grilled achiote chicken tossed with butter lettuce, spicy citrus dressing, poached tomato, red onion, white beans, and cucumber and toca queso. There is so much going on with this salad, the corn, bean, chicken and cheese make for a very memorable experience and the tangy dressing is equally pleasing.

Chipotle Caesar with baby kale, butter lettuce, shaved manchego, lime pepita seeds with jalapeño cilantro bolillo croutons, tossed with vegan chipotle Caesar vinaigrette. This is a very humble take on a well-known salad, extremely light and healthy as well.


Mushroom and Sweet Corn with garlic lime sautéed cremini and chanterelle mushrooms layered with corn relish, sweet chipotle, queso fresco and black beans. There are many layers to this vegetarian taco and all are amazing.

Carne Asada with cilantro jalapeño marinated grilled skirt steak layered with guacamole, cilantro, red onions, sweet chipotle sauce and cotija cheese. Each bite has a different flavor and texture, super delicious.

Cochinita Pibil with spiced citrus and banana leaf braised heritage farm pork topped with guacamole, jalapeño cabbage, pickled onions, grilled pineapple and mango salsa. For the pork lover this taco is got to be the one, the sweetness of the mango, pineapple accompanies this dish perfectly. Who doesn’t want to have a little but of sweetness with their pork?

Ensenada-Style Seabass with crispy beer-battered Chilean seabass, habañero, cucumber radish slaw and lime crema. This taco was my favorite with the sea bass being crispy and beer battered; it just makes all the difference in the world.

Shrimp Dulce with sweet chipotle-spiced shrimp, jalapeño cabbage slaw, garlic mojo and micro bulls blood greens. I loved this taco as well, with its lovely spices.


Mahi Veracruz with sautéed line caught mahi mahi, with tomatoes, onion, green olives, capers and cilantro served over cilantro rice and banana leaf. For the fresh fish lover this would be a go to item, very mellow flavors with nice fresh mahi mahi.

Shrimp Picante with seared jumbo shrimp, served with sautéed garlic and pear tomatoes in a spicy white wine reduction with a crispy black bean dumpling. These are huge shrimp and they will entice your every sense, delicious and heart warming.


Enchiladas De Suizas with organic free-range chicken tinga and queso fresco rolled in soft corn tortillas served with crema, micro cilantro and red onions. This is a melt in your mouth kind of enchilada, but all of the ingredients are very pronounced. You don’t get your typical heavy red enchilada sauce, so it is a very refreshing type of enchilada.

Achiote Chicken with orange spiced marinated grilled organic free-range chicken, pickled vegetables (escabeche), avocado puree, and citrus salsa. It almost is like a tandoori chicken but Latin style, a happy medium.

A La Roca with American Wagyu beef topped with cilantro and onions, seared at your table, with habanero salt and grilled takin vegetables, served with three dipping sauces: jus de vino rojo, diablo salsa and chipotle crema. This dish is the showstopper, the steak continues to cook and sizzle while it is in front of you, all I can say is wow!


Street Corn with roasted corn served off the cob with cotija cheese and chipotle powder. For once this dish is done without the whole Cobb, no effort just good eating.

Grilled Tajin Vegetables seasonal. The perfect side dish with great flavor.

Mixed Mushroom Bowl with sautéed garlic lime cremini and chanterelle mushrooms. Who doesn’t love mushrooms and the way this is prepared you will just become a mushroom lover if you hadn’t already done so.


Assorted Sorbets with mixed berries. For the healthier palate this will cleanse and harmonize your experience.

Chef’s Famous Chocolate Tart with homemade blackberry chocolate kiss, raspberry jam, and pulled cocoa. Chocolate lovers come one come all and get a hold of this very decadent tart.

The Churro Ice Cream Sandwich with warm cinnamon and sugar churro filled with dulce de leche ice cream with spiced Mexican chocolate shavings. Another spectacular accomplishment for Toca Madera.

The interior is very fun and whimsical, with lots of attention to detail. I would say it is rustic modern, wood floors, wood furniture, Edison style light fixtures, and lacy type hanging fixtures over the bar area. Fully equipped with a world-class sound system, the 4,500 sq. ft. restaurant and lounge includes a retractable roof and interior patio, creating an open-air dining environment. Architectural features include Arabesque accents, handcrafted custom woodwork and numerous fire elements, There is a very warm vibe, literally with flames coming out of the glass paneled walls, and the art work is all about embracing the female form Day of the Dead style photos with topless women adorning the walls, adds to the over all sexy vibe of Toca Madera. Every detail is covered, even the music is sold on there website and adds to the overall atmosphere: Ruexx, The Full Moon Sessions.

They offer full catering as well, specializing in custom event creations, with an experienced team of highly trained chefs, professional servers, and event coordinators available to help you organize every aspect of your party. This includes staffing, menu planning, entertainment and live music, rental needs, location selection, logistics, scheduling, accommodations and transportation, floral arrangements and décor, lighting and staging, as well as the overall floor plan and design in any event space desired.

The service is impeccable, with Danielle as my guide I had the best tasting, her support staff including Raul, were equally fantastic, I never had to hail a staff member down for anything, they were just always around.

Be sure you make a reservation; this place is so hot if you don’t have one you won’t get in! But it is worth the time and effort to do this. With the amazing sexy hipster crowd your going to see quite a show, the whole time I was there it was very very busy, what an exciting scene!

Toca Madera West Hollywood
8450 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
p: 323.852.9400
Monday – Friday: 5:00 pm – 2:00 am
Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Brunch – Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Happy Hour from 5 pm – 7 pm offering $8 specialty cocktails and wine, $4 draft beers as well as an $8 food menu.
* note some content taken from Toca Madera website.


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