Friday, November 12, 2010

Tinto Tapas, Weho - authentic & unassuming

I really don't like eating a heavy meal too late in the evening. I don't like going to bed feeling uncomfortably full. So after getting out of a movie at 8.30pm, I really needed some food but not a full-on meal. Tapas are perfect for a night like this. Portions are small so you'll quench your hunger without committing to a large entree. So we made our way to Tinto Tapas on Santa Monica in West Hollywood. I've never been but my colleagues frequent the restaurant.

It's located on a street that's kind of dead and a bit gritty with a couple businesses and a nude bar a few steps away. But when you enter the restaurant, you really do feel transported into a Spainish establishment. It's dark, a bit goth with chandeliers, brick walls and bright red accents. Even the bartender has a Catalan accent. They also have live music on Thursdays.

Albarino Salneval 2008 and Rioja Ramón Bilbao 2005 to start.

Tapas are around $10 except for the cured meat. They have Ibérico (Black Footed Spanish Pig - 24 Month-Cured Ham) for $28 and the Ibérico de Bellota (Acorn Fed Only) for $42. I was tempted to order but maybe some other time. Apart from tapas, they also offer entrees such as paella, fish, lamb chops and arroz negro.

Tabla de Ibéricos - 4 kinds of regional Spanish cured meat: Chorizo, Catalana, Lomo Embuchado & Salchichón. Served w/olives, capers and garlic
I thought the cured meat was nothing special. Some of the meats seemed a bit sweated. I did enjoy the pickled garlic which had a strong vinegary taste.

Croquetas de Jamón - Authentic Spanish ham croquettes.

The croquettes were filled with bechamel and little chunks of jamon. The jamon added a distinct cured pork flavoring. I was afraid that the croquettes would be too heavy and creamy, but instead they were fluffy like mash potatoes.

Escalivada - Roasted eggplant, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes & garlic, seasoned w/ olive oil & Sherry vinegar. Served cold.
This reminded me of Italian antipasto. I'm not a bell pepper fan but it seemed to be stewed and rendered to a point that it lost most of its bitterness. It's good to see a vegetarian dish that is both substantial and flavorful.

Gambas al Ajillo - Shrimp sautéed in white wine w/ garlic, chili flakes & parsley
This was my favorite dish. The sauce really made this dish. It was rich, buttery and great to dip bread into. I also liked the slices of garlic and the heat from the chili flakes.

I liked the food at Tinto Tapas but I still prefer my favorite Westside tapas joint, Bar Pintxo. Tinto's dishes are more authentic yet simple while Pintxo's are more unique and exciting. Take for example, Pintxo's grilled octopus and potato salad, or pork belly with grilled peaches. With that said, Tinto Tapas is a great place to get the whole Spanish experience from the Spanish bartender, to the live Spanish music and the classic tapas. It would also be a great place for happy hour where tapas are priced at $5.

Hits: shrimp, ambiance
Misses: cured meat
Rating: **1/2

Tinto Tapas
7511 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood CA 90046
(323) 512-3095


Banana Wonder said...

Meat seemed sweated? That's weird! I do love tapas, you make me want croquettas - must find hot spots in P town.

bagnatic said...

nudey bars?

i can't eat too late either, but sometimes you must.

stuffycheaks said...

anna - u know.. when the meat is damp. yuck. There's also another tapas joint (in Samo) called Manchego.. if you are ever in town. Sangria??