It’s so rare that I write blog posts.  Honestly it’s also probably been years since I’ve dedicated a blog post to one restaurant, but this one is worth.  On June 18th, the fourth location of Toca Madera opened in Houston and I could not be more excited.  Originally started in Los Angeles, Toca Madera is a high end Mexican steakhouse known for their great food, cocktails, decor and entertainment.  Since opening their first location, they expanded to Scottsdale and Las Vegas.  Somehow, I have been to all of the locations and literally screamed when I heard that the next location would open right here in Houston.  I had the privilege of attending the private preview before the official opening day, and it truly lived up to the hype.  Here are the Toca Madera Houston details.

Location

Toca Madera sign

Located on Allen Parkway near the Federal Reserve Bank, Toca Madera is part of a new mixed use space anchored by the Thompson Hotel.  There are other restaurants over here, a coffee shop and even a gym, but Toca Madera is expected to be the major draw.   As you arrive, the buildings have a futuristic feel.  You will immediately notice Toca Madera as it is close to the street and has a large bird nest like structure that covers the front of the building.

As far as parking goes, when I visited the Thompson hotel some months back, we lucked up and found free parking in the lot connected to the hotel.   I think this lot is intended to serve the gym members, but it worked for that day.  It would be a bit of a walk over to Toca, and honestly I would be shocked if it stays free!

On the day of my Toca Madera visit, I opted for valet in front of the restaurant.  It was about $10 dollars and allowed you to call for your car using your phone, so your car would be there waiting for you once you head outside.

The Vibe

Patio area Toca Madera

This restaurant is beautiful! There is a team of doormen to greet you in the patio area.  They check for your reservation even before allowing you to open the door.  Once inside, you will see the fancy hostess stand that leads into the bar area.  The main bar isn’t huge, so I would not depend on slipping in whenever without a reservation to sit at the bar.   However it is very much the place to be.

There is a built in DJ booth which should tell you the vibe they are going for plus an area for the fire breathers evening performance.  Did I mention there are fire breathers?  Yes, they dance around the restaurant with fire.  It’s very cool to see.  There was also a guitar player accompanying the DJ at different points.   There is SO much going on in the restaurant, but it all seems to fit without seeming kitschy which is hard to do.

The main dining room is on the other side.  Here there are large trees that hang over the large booths.  The space is also dark in a sexy fun way.  There are large areas for bigger groups too, making it the perfect spot for a birthday dinner.  Then, near the bathrooms you will find a large members only speakeasy.   It is not open just yet, but we got a sneak peek.  It will be the perfect space for private parties.

The Food & Drinks

For the menu, there is truly a little bit of everything.  As a Mexican steakhouse they serve many of the popular cuts of beef, seafood and typical Mexican dishes.   The menus vary between the different locations and if memory serves me correct, Scottsdale and Los Angeles seemed to have more Mexican food while Las Vegas was definitely a steak house.  For Houston, this menu is huge and I think you are getting a little of everything.

I was here for a tasting allowing us to try A LOT Of stuff.  So please note, that this restaurant is expensive and on a normal visit, I probably would not order all of these things! The queso fundido is a must order on every visit to Toca Madera.  It’s served with tortillas, tons of mushrooms and the perfect cheese pull.  Their house salsa, chips and guac are a great quality too.  For entrees and apps, my favorite bites were the lobster taco, scallops and steak.   Lots of flavor and decent portions.  Some dishes however, like the table-side wagyu, doesn’t live up to it’s $85 price point.  With the sides, I actually liked the mac and cheese, but if you are not a truffle fan you may want to skip it.  We were greedy and tried all of the desserts and the whole table was impressed.

For drinks, I kept it simple and ordered the margaritas because I figure, if you are a Mexican restaurant, you’ll knock these out of the park.  And they did! I loved the passion fruit margarita out of the two I tried.  They also love bringing over the ghost rider shots which they light on fire so be prepared for that.   Matter of fact, most of the drinks are set on fire after being doused with cinnamon, so if you are not a cinnamon fan keep that in mind!

Takeaway

We’ve talked about vibe dining over here before, and I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that Toca Madera is the epitome of vibe dining. Their entire vibe including being open till 1am are the very definition of vibe dining.  However, Toca Madera does it so well! What generally happens with vibe dining restaurants, they are doing too much and unable to do several aspects well.   That is what makes Toca Madera stand out, all aspects of this restaurant are done at the top level from the food, to the entertainment.

Be sure to check out my Instagram Reel with all of the visuals from my first visit.  Also keep in mind that their reservations are booking up fast.  They release them 30 days in advance so mark your calendars.