After buying our bikes, my husband Paul and I would spend our weekends exploring the neighborhood on two wheels, our little bells clearing the path ahead. It’s amazing how quiet the streets can become when you tuck into the residential paths and away from the major intersections and highways of the city. I tend to brag that our local area has a lot to offer and with the constant construction we are never lacking in places to eat, drink, shop, and gather. Now with bikes, we’ve made it a habit to visit new places any chance we get. Along a particularly thriving block found below Hollywood is a tiny Mexican restaurant called Tinga. We both happened upon this spot after reading rave reviews about their gourmet tacos. In Los Angeles we’ve entered a new wave of serving artisan tacos in place of the omnipresent street varieties and it’s an everyday occurrence to find things like ginger, shitake, peanuts, and grilled octopus piled high on handmade corn tortillas. Tinga fits this description, but the charm of the small kitchen is that they lack the pretentious quality of those other taquerias. The walls of the restaurant are covered with comically designed tacos acting out various tasks like sailing pirate ships and lounging blissfully under a cartoon sun. The crowd is usually small, the booths are cozy, and it’s once of the few places to eat that has a relaxing environment free of noisy guests. There is usually one person greeting and serving and they’ll often give you a batch of their homemade chips to snack on if you’re waiting for takeout.
Paul and I like to visit in the early evening on the weekends when we have nothing to do and are in the mood to be casual. Sharing a beer with lime, guacamole, and a few of the house Tinga Tacos is all we need to drift blissfully through a day with nothing to do. It is one of those places that makes me feel like we live in a tiny city in the big city, a casually gourmet spot that is hard to spot by speeding cars and meant to be visited by those in the know. With our bikes chained to the rack outside and quiet neighborhood streets nearby, those Tinga trips remind me to forgo the car and stay local during those long summer days.