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Let's Do Lunch: Tinga

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There are some great lunches to be had in this town, and we want to celebrate the midday meal. So, let's do lunch, shall we?

Fast, fresh, satisfying, and doesn't break the bank often equal criteria for a good midday meal. Those were a few of the items on our lunchtime wish list recently, which led us to grab a friend and head to Tinga, a new casual taco-centric Mexican restaurant on La Brea.

Run by a husband-and-wife duo who also operate a catering company, Tinga is a tidy hole-in-the-wall with contemporary sensibilities. The same menu is offered the entire day, which means our fab, fast, and flavorful lunch can also be had at dinnertime.

The philosophy at Tinga seems to be about quality and consciousness. Handmade tortilla envelop colorful fillings of deliciously seasoned meat and veggies and come served on plates made from fallen leaves from VerTerra. Outside, the restaurant makes use of the abundant sunshine and vertical wallspace to boast a hanging pocket garden, and offers patrons a few shaded sidewalk seats.

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Inside, the vibe is relaxed, bright, and cheery. At the counter is a staffer with a cheeky sense of humor and an infectious smile who will take your order from the small but appealing menu of tacos, quesadillas, and specialty dishes, including ones penned on the mirrored wall (don't forget to glance to your right to check them out!).

The Tinga is a pair of tostadas topped with tender, stewed chicken, greens, crema, and pickled onions ($7.50). Their tacos come stuffed with lemon brined chicken breast (Pechuga), potatos and peppers (Paps Bravas), pork (Cochinita Pibil or Grilled Cumin & Garlic Rubbed Pork Loin) or beef (Short Rib or Flat Iron Steak). A pair of satisfying, savory, stuffed-to-the-gills tortillas range from $5.50-$8.50 and are served with fresh chips and a fiery salsa on the side.

Extra sides include a tangy White Bean salad, and other more traditional options such as creamy rice (Arroz con Crema) or grilled corn with lime and spices (Elote Especial). To cool off the heat and to get a little bit of sweet in your lunch, go for the Watermelon Lemonade or the tantalizing Cantaloupe Agua Fresca ($3.75 each).

If you can't make it for lunch, no worries--Tinga has the same menu all day, so you can check it out for dinner, too.