Eat The Menu: Tinto
Tinto moved? Wait. You mean the place with great margaritas? I thought they were on Lake Street.
They were and they did. Move, that is. Tinto Kitchen was in Uptown, but has found a new home in the Lynnhurst neighborhood of southwest Minneapolis. And if my trip a couple weeks back is any indication, it’s likely to become your new spot for margaritas, tacos and a lot more. Right there on the corner of 50th and Penn.
My confidence rests firmly on the knowledge that wife-and-husband team Rebecca Illingworth and Thierry Penichot are at the helm. Rebecca’s track record as a successful restaurateur, combined with her passion for Latin cuisine pairs perfectly with Thierry’s talents as a truly world-trained chef. This dynamic duo’s skills are on full display the moment you walk through the door.
The dining room and bar nestled within are both comfortable and casual. The ideal place for impromptu happy hour with friends or a quiet date night with somebody special. Eventually, you’ll even be able to grab tortillas, tacos and a range of prepared foods to go. For now, grab a seat and indulge.
The menu at Tinto reflects a knowledge and respect of traditional Latin cuisine while completely embracing the adventurous spirit of Chef Thierry.
We began our culinary adventure with a few of Tinto’s signature appetizers. Obviously, you can’t go wrong with the satisfying crunch of housemade chips dragged through creamy guacamole. Beyond basics, do yourself and everybody at the table a favor and order the ropa vieja. These bite-sized bundles of chipotle braised beef, queso fresco, pickled onion and spicy aioli atop sweet plantains were the odds-on table favorite.
The barbacoa empanada deserves special attention, as well. This piping hot pocket of pulled beef is stuffed inside a crispy pillow of masa, instead of the typical flour-based dough. That’s because this dish, as with everything else on the menu, is gluten-free.
If ceviche is your jam, you’re in luck. There’s an embarrassment of seafood riches at Tinto and the shrimp aguachile was a highlight. The vibrant mix of fresh shrimp, jalapeno, cilantro, cucumber, avocado, red onion and lime light up the crispy plantain chips that accompany it.
Moving onto the main course, we inhaled one of each of Tinto’s signature tacos. With reckless abandon. While there are six to choose from, the crispy, unctuous pork carnitas, as well as the spiced, ancho chili-braised beef tacos are simply magical. Each one offers a clever, balanced combination of flavors and textures.
While it’s hard to believe there was any room left for dessert after such a thorough meal, there was. And how. Especially upon learning that everything is made in-house. Let’s start with the flan. For a full-fledged fan, I’m always skeptical when I see it on a menu. Often it’s an underwhelming mouthful of sweet scrambled eggs. Chef Thierry’s creamy coconut flan, however, is delicate, yet rich, topped with crunchy granola and pepitas. The chocolate cake is easily another hands-down favorite. This flourless torte is topped with vanilla ice cream and a decadent caramel sauce.
How’s that for a culinary journey?
In a world where tacos and margaritas are ubiquitous, Tinto Kitchen and the team behind it offer them up with an uncommon level of passion and skill. In a setting that’s approachable. And just around the corner.
4959 Penn Ave. S.