Tinga (522 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; 310.451.9341) is hitting Santa Monica with all its taco deliciousness. Replacing long-time tenant Renee’s Courtyard Café, the funky Mexican spot from La Brea is serving beginning today. Decked out with antique and vintage store finds like T-shaped plant installation, lamps resembling agave blooms, and murals of raining tacos, this is your new Westside spot for artisanal cocktails and Mexican food.
They’ve kept the classic tacos and nachos on the menu and added some creativity with dishes like chicken and waffles with buttermilk fried chicken, horchata buckwheat waffles, maple syrup and borracho sauce; Tacos Al Pastor de Jerry with guajillo-rubbed and pineapple-marinated pork with Caribbean kick and grilled pineapple lime salsa and scotch bonnet peppers; and Agua Chiles with prawns, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, lime and chiles. Other signature dishes reflect the interpretation of the restaurant name with TINGA Tacos with chipotle steeped shredded chicken, shredded lettuce, crema and pickled red onions; TINGA Tostada with long braised hand-shredded chicken chipotle, roasted tomato and garlic, homemade tortillas, salsas and tapatio with vine ripe tomatoes, fresh chiles; and Bacon Guacamole with fresh avocado, Nueske’s Apple Smoked Bacon and Chicharones. Whole menu here.
The menu also offers vegan and vegetarian options like Chickpea and Broccoli Falafel Taco with salsa suegra and tequila salsa; Elote Especial with grilled sweet corn, creamy lime, chili and poblano puree; and Chile Relleno Burrito with arroz con crema, refried beans and chipotle salsa.
Joel Black (Comme Ça, Cana Rum Bar) is behind the cocktails with different takes on margaritas, and their famous Dirty Horchata is coming west too. They also have Constant Gardner (La Purita Mezcal, lemon, sage, cucumber, kale juice, chia, house-made orange Curacao, a pinch of salt), There Will Be Blood (Illegal Joven Mezcal, lime, house-made ginger beer, drip of sweet sangrita), and Jamaica Me Very, Very Happy (Agavales Blanco, house-infused with Jamaica flowers, lime, Black’s Jamaica infused curaçao, prickly pear). With three bars in the venue, you will surely get a cocktail in hand.
Open 5:30 pm-2 am, (serving until 1:30 am).