The Tantalizing Tinto

One of the coolest things about living in Rancho Mirage is that I’m smack dab in the middle of the Palm Springs Valley, which has an amazing collection of places to eat—and we all know I love to eat!  I can go east to Indio for amazing Mexican fare.  I can meander down to The River for burgers, barbeque, continental, Chinese, or cheesecake.  And if I head west, there are even more options.

Recently I was invited to join some friends at the newly open tapas restaurant called Tinto (“red wine” in Spanish) in the very colorful The Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs (formerly known as The Holiday Inn).  Although I had heard the buzz about this place, I wasn’t prepared for the scene I encountered.  Sure it was a Saturday night, but this place was hopping crazy busy—in a good way.  The restaurant is beautifully designed, with dark wood finishes, comfortable booths, and nicely spaced tables.   When presented with the menu, we were given a little “primer” on how to order.  Most of the dishes are “small plates” intended for sharing and snacking, especially over cocktails or as a preamble to some of the larger dishes.

Marinated olives, Serrano ham-wrapped figs, smoked Marcona almonds (OMG I could eat them all day), and a wonderful selection of smoked meats, sausages, and cheeses could easily fill you up.  But don’t miss the amazing soups (how about truffled chestnut with duck and mushroom hash topped with a fried quail egg?), a choice of mini-brochettes, and canapés.   The menu is very creative without being fussy.  Although we were encouraged to share some of the larger plates—especially the excellent seafood and fish dishes, as well as meats such as the New York strip steak, and succulent lamb chops—I would order my own in the future and advise others to do the same.

This is a special place.  Not outrageously expensive, but certainly not cheap.  Start small and build from there.  If you’re still hungry after your initial samplings, let your waiter know and order more.  Oh, and don’t forget to tour the hotel itself before or after dinner.  Another fun thing is to start with cocktails at bar El Jefe off the lobby.  I can see myself Tinto-ing often.