BBE Editor's Pick
(two locations) 142 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles (Mid-City West)
, 522 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica (Santa Monica)
Chef and owner "JB" Baker resurrected the patchwork space formerly conglomerated by Renee's Café, and Tinga’s eclectic decor—an arched-ceiling bar with hand-drawn bottles, a Spanish-tiled open-air courtyard—is matched by an inventive spin on Mexican-inspired cuisine that distinguishes it from just any old taco shack. Start off with something refreshing—the watermelon lemonade tastes like someone squeezed the fruit right into your mouth, while a simple horchata becomes the risqué-sounding espresso- and rum-spiked Dirty Hor-chata. Move on to the guacamole, rising like islands from a sea of mild salsa, and ramp up the heat with the bomba (crusty rice and chorizo balls), imparting fire from chopped jalapeños. The cochinita pibil tacos, filled with slow-roasted orange/achiote-marinated pork, corn, and pickled onion, feature an insidious habanero salsa, while the substantial prime flatiron steak burritos, boasting chunks of iceberg, tender beef, and refried beans, are finished with "grasshopper salsa" made with muddled chapulines—an uncommon touch, as you might expect from JB.
Prime flat iron steak burrito
Cochinita pibil tacos
view full menu here
... on the side
eye for design
The space was acquired room by room over a period of years, and each is unique—most of the art features line drawings directly on the walls featuring animated tacos. Look closely at the drawing of the taco monster in the courtyard—JB’s initials appear on its collar. Is he the artist or the monster? You decide.
here and there
If you’re loyal to Tinga’s La Brea location, you’ll be happy to know that your 30% off is honored there, too—even for their newly added beer menu.
Low—it’s a casual, laid-back spot where you won’t have to shout above the din.
Sun–Wed 11:30 AM–11:30 PM; Thu–Sat 11:30 AM–2 AM
$7.75 (Tinga Tacos) to $14.50 (flatiron steak quesadilla)
(two locations) 142 S. La Brea Ave. (between W. 2nd St. and W. 1st St.), Los Angeles, CA 90036; 323-954-9566
522 Wilshire Blvd. (between 5th Ct. and 6th St.), Santa Monica , CA 90401; 310-451-9341