The concept will open its second location in Preston Center, in the old Lala's Mexican Café space. If all goes well, the restaurant will open in August.
Toluca is from TJ Frank, co-founder of Southpaws Grill, and features local, organic, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free offerings, with a goal of being both vegan-friendly and non-vegan-friendly, as well.
Their fresh-Mex menu features salads, tacos, bowls, and burritos, with a versatile approach that allows for customizing dishes to your liking.
Frank says that expanding has always been part of the plan, and that they're the right concept during these difficult times.
"We've wanted to take this to the next level and offer more options for something that's healthy and convenient," he says. "Especially with the coronavirus and everything that's going on right now, where being safe and convenient is a top priority."
That location at 6030 Luther Ln. has had its share of turnover. Prior to Lala's Mexican Café, which lasted two years, it was occupied by Cedars Xpress, and before that, Grip Mediterranean.
But Frank knows Preston Center well, due to his involvement with Southpaw, which opened on Berkshire Lane in 2007.
"Southpaw has enjoyed 13 years at Preston Center," Frank says. "This area has treated us so well. I love the people and the neighborhood. It was an easy decision to open."
This even despite recent closures such as Snuffers, Roti Grill, and longtime staple California Pizza Kitchen.
"Preston Center is tricky," he says. "It's very hands-on. You need good food, but equally important, you need a good team that's friendly and accommodating, like Houston's, like R&D Kitchen, like Muchacho, who all crank up the service level."
Toluca's sibling Southpaw also has a healthy profile, but the experience is different, he says.
"We might see a customer 2-3 times a week, but you get get burned out, and this brings in different flavors and tastes," he says. "The priority with Toluca is incorporating vegan and other dietary options so that when you have a group friends, you ask, 'Where do you go to dinner?', Toluca is there for all. Dietary restrictions have become a much bigger deal in our culture."
The location will serve alcohol, but unlike their Uptown original which has a full bar, Preston Center will be beer and wine only.
"We'll lso do some elevated wine-based cocktails and sangrias," he says. "We just want to make sure we can accommodate for that dinner customer who wants to have a beer with some tacos."
And of course to go. "We've always been pretty good at to-go and it's a huge deal for us," he says.