Jerry Baker in one of three newly remade bars at Tinga in Santa Monica.
Tinga restaurant owners Jerry and Chris Baker have transformed the dark and funky spot in Downtown Santa Monica formerly Renee’s into an equally funky, but much brighter setting as an authentic Mexican-themed restaurant with a twist.
Tinga’s new Santa Monica digs on Wilshire and 6th comes off the success of Tinga on La Brea, which opened in 2010. The couple opened their first restaurant at the time after leading a successful catering business since 1994 now called The Food Matters.
The handmade tortillas, roughly 500 per day, and salsa loaded with tasty meats make up the signature tacos on which Tinga and their original catering business built its reputation.
“We have men who have to leave their macho-ness behind and make tortillas,” says Jerry, who likes to show off the restaurant’s three bars and outdoor patio area. The staff has been adapting to some of the new quirks as well like the air outtake in the kitchen that sends tickets flying through the prep kitchen and into the dish washing area.
“The first night was very funny trying to chase the tickets down. It was very keystone cops,” Jerry says.
The crew plans to soon begin delivery service on electric bikes in the neighborhood and a pick-up service you can text ahead. Tasty favorites include the Lamb Adobado with cerignola olive and piquillo peppers with fried Serrano and queso fresco as well as The Genisis, an original concoction Jerry fashioned since 1983 with grilled cumin and garlic rubbed pork loin, poblanos and pepper jack cheese.