WEEKEND BRUNCH AT TOCA MADERA
CHIC MEXICAN RESTAURANT NAILS IT!
It’s funny how a restaurant can do two things so differently—and we’re talking night and day, literally. While I had mixed feelings about dinner at trendy Toca Madera on Third Street, I must say that they really do a bang-up job at brunch.
Toca Madera, which translates to “knock on wood”, really impressed me with its weekend brunch—from its fare to its cocktails. Whereas dinner can be pricey and a bit hit and miss, brunch is affordable and quite spectacular. Cocktails at brunch, just like at dinner, are crafted by head barman and leading mixologist Juan Martinez. While the brunch drink menu has been scaled down somewhat, it’s still very daring and extremely pleasing.
Brunch usually screams Bloody Mary but at Toca Madera it goes by Bloody Maria and let me tell you that she is wicked spicy. Made with chile de arbol infused Milagro tequila, escabeche, cholula, worchestershire, tomato, and celery salt, this drink is not for the faint at heart. During my second visit for brunch, Martinez scaled the spiciness back but it was still pretty fiery. You better be a fan of spice if you order one of these.
The brunch item that really caught my eye and I was looking forward to the most was the Churro Waffle, yup, a waffle made out of churro batter. Where has that been all my life? It sounds too good to be true but it lived up to my expectations. The Churro Waffle is made from churro batter pressed into a waffle and dipped in cinnamon and sugar and served with mixed berries, chantilly crema, honey butter, and maple syrup. You would think it can’t get any better than this but you’d be wrong.
They also serve Chicken & Waffle with crispy chipotle chicken strips served atop the cinnamon churro waffle served with honey butter, maple syrup and tangy hot sauce. This waffle is not as sweet as the regular waffle as it has less cinnamon, which is probably best since it’s paired with savory chicken. While I loved the churro waffle, I think you’re better off with the chicken and waffle, unless you want to split the waffle with friends just to experience the taste.
Other hearty brunch options include the fine Machaca Scramble with braised short rib tossed with scrambled egg, cherry tomato, pasilla peppers and onions over mojo potatoes and topped with toca queso, guacamole and chipotle crema served with house made flour tortillas.
Another brunch favorite of ours was the Huevos Rancheros with soyrizo and cheese enchilada dipped in black bean puree topped with a fried egg and covered with red and green sauce. It’s delicious.
A Mexican breakfast staple that really sores are the Chilaquiles served with your choice of chicken machaca or braised short rib, and prepared with corn chips tossed with avocado tomatillo sauce, scrambled eggs, caramelized onion and toca cheese with cilantro, crema, and pickled onion. This is a classic dish for a reason.
If you’re a fan of a breakfast burrito, then you’ll probably dig on the Burro prepared with your choice of carne asada, achiote chicken or chipotle tofu, egg whites, sweet chipotle sauce, crema, toca queso, black beans and mojo potatoes served with fire roasted tomato salsa. It’s quite the beast but I prefer the more classic Mexican items.
So while you have your brunch menu entrees working for you, there are just so many fine libations to choose from. If your survived the Bloody Maria and want a second drink or you’re not a fan of spice but definitely want a cocktail, start with the But First, Coffee drink as it’s a fine mix of vanilla infused El Jimador tequila, Stumptown cold brew, caffe lollita, and cinnamon. I really liked this drink and I’m not a coffee guy or a fan of vanilla and yet I think this cocktail kicks ass.
The Break in Oazaca drink made with chamomile infused Illegal mezcal, chocolate bitters, maple syrup, and lemon, and egg white is fantastic. I love the mix of mezcal and chocolate bitters. This one is just perfect for day drinking.
Likewise, the 3rd Street Locos made with Veev, Ancho Reyes liqueur, watermelon, mint, lime, mango guajillo shrub is so damn refreshing and I’m not a big fan of vodka drinks. I find vodka drinks to be a waste as I’d rather have gin or a more daring spirit, but this one is really nice and great for drinking while the sun is out.
Other drinks that are pretty bold include the Paloma with Casa Noble Crystal, Aperol, Fresno chili, grapefruit, lime, soda, and Himalayan pink salt – think smoky grapefruit. In the same vein, the Mexican 69 with Avion Silver tequila, pomegranate, La Pinta, prosecco and lime is quite complex. It can be stiff and the flavor really changes and becomes delicious when you get the pomegranate with each sip.
An absolute must-have drink is the Adios Felisha. I can’t think of a better dessert cocktail, especially for brunch. Made with Don Julio tequila, cucumber, mint, tajin, and a seasonal paleta, like lime, mango or strawberry, this is pure genius. Bravo to Juan Martinez! This is a drink that comes with a Popsicle and the flavor of the paleta changes as it absorbs more alcohol. If you’re with a group, order them all and share. These are really fun and just so damn tasty.
Toca Madera is offering one of the best brunches in town—from value to fare and cocktails. The food is hearty and tasty and perfect to absorb copious cocktails that will absolutely delight. It’s a meal like this that makes brunch one of man’s best creations.
Toca Madera is located at 8450 West 3rd Street. Brunch is served from 11am to 4pm. Call 323-852-9400.
Story by Jose Martinez
Some Photography Courtesy of: Toca Madera