I couldn't possibly eat everything I wanted without paying for it, hence my Yoga practice, though I don't think "paying for it" quite describes it correctly since I genuinely do love Yoga. I only mention my Yoga because it is the place where I was told about Tinga. Arriving at the Yoga studio minutes before my class I chatted it up with the very friendly front desk person, on this particular day we were talking of food and he mentioned Tinga, a yummy but small Mexican restaurant on La Brea with interesting flavors that was inspired by La Superica located in Santa Barbara. At the mention of Santa Barbara and La Superica my ears perked up and he now had my full attention, "I used to live in Santa Barbara, La Superica is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants there!" I say to him, "oh! You should totally go to Tinga then" he says to me, and so I make a mental note.
A few days later Brother Charlie and I visit Tinga on La Brea, located next door to Midi Cafe. Tinga is small with a couple tables outside and tables inside. A huge black-board is the menu, the interior is very urban and the first thing that runs through my mind is that this "hole-in-the-wall" Mexican food restaurant is very Los Angeles. I read through the menu and my first feeling is that the food here is interesting and reads most nothing like La Superica, but I try not to get disheartened, reminding myself that this is a new experience and so I must have a clean slate at which to judge.
We order in line at the register and sit down with a number, "11", and this is very odd I now realize because this is the third time that the number 11 has come up on The Adventures of Tummy. Brother Charlie orders a watermelon juice, it is not sweet but a bit sour- Yuck! I do not like it. Tummy ordered a Horchata, the color is funny, it is a little bit too white, I take a sip and then another and realize that my Horchata lacks in that milky and cinnamony taste and that it is instead too sweet for my liking- I am sad, this is not looking too good.
But my negative thoughts of Tinga are diverted as they were beginning to form for lunch was brought to the table. My order of Tinga Tostada which comes in pairs. Crispy corn tortilla on the bottom, Tinga marinated shreds of chicken, shredded lettuce, pickled red cabbage, feta cheese. I eat and realize that the tostada is difficult to eat, the chicken is tangled together and I am eating more chicken than I like, half way through the first tostada I've already eaten all the chicken and all I am left with is the crispy tortilla shell. Aside from the pleasant saltiness of the pickled cabbage and the feta cheese, the Tinga Tostada made me very sad. "This is nothing like La Superica" I say to Brother Charlie.
Brother Charlie opts to order a side of Elote, a grilled corn mixture that contains spices, feta cheese, sour cream and guacamole. It is pleasant to eat as it has a rustic feel from the flavor of the slightly charred corn. But it too, does not blow my mind.
Maybe I came with too high expectations, I heard La Superica and got excited, I imagined the little shack on the corner with a line outside it's door, the cerveza, the freshly made corn tortillas, the authentic Mexican comfort food... I came with all this in mind and realized no, Tinga was not at all like La Superica. Instead of authentic Mexican comfort food with it's deep, saturated yet simple flavors I received Mex-L.A., and it wasn't even a very good impression at that. Trying a little too hard I found Tinga to be too exotic to be considered Mexican, after all, no one really wants mushrooms in their quesadilla, no bean on their tostada, nor cinnamon-less horchata. Thus, if you are looking for Mexican food this is definitely not the place to go.
The Damage: $30.00 +/-
1 Watermelon juice
1 Tinga Burritto
1 Order of Tinga tostada
1 Side order of Elote Special
142 S. La Brea
LA CA 90036