Tasca del Tinto: Iberian Bistro Adds Unique Flair to Holly St.

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Tasca Del Tinto, the new bistro on Holly Street, is helping to redefine downtown Bellingham dining. The menu, curated from the Iberian Peninsula region of southern Europe that includes Spain, Portugal, and Andorra, guarantees to fill your table with exotic flavors found nowhere else in our area.

The kitchen prepares traditional sausages, cheese, shellfish, hams, and sides, all imported to excite your senses and allow you to truly experience the flavors of Iberia. The libations are also excellent; they have to be to tempt you away from eating the food. Unless you have visited Iberia, it is unlikely you have ever tried any of the wine, beer, or traditional plates that Tasca Del Tinto offers.

The drink menu constantly rotates and lets Bellinghamsters tap into Iberia’s most finely crafted wines and other regional beverages. The wait staff is knowledgeable and will use a map of the region to point exactly where your grapes or grains were sown, harvested, brewed, and bottled.

During a recent visit by two members of the DDB team, Tasca’s menu was featuring red wines from the 1,200-year-old viticulture tradition of the Rioja region in Spain. These celebrated juices inspire the annual Batalla de Vino in Rioja, in which thousands of participants compete to drink and douse each other with wine.

And while we believe Tasca’s wine selection should be shared and reveled in, the Tasca staff asks that you visit the Rioja region itself if you intend to douse your dining companions with wine.

Tasca Del Tinto imports authentic Iberian experiences, like popping the cork on a bottle of traditional Rioja wine, directly into downtown Bellingham.

Tasca plates their selections in the style of communal tapas. The term “tapas” is derived from the habit of Spanish and Portuguese workers covering their wine glasses with small plates (some say to keep flies out of the wine) that often had portions of meats and cheese on them, and the term itself literally means “cover.”

The plates at Tasca follow the tapas tradition and are meant to share with friends. I shared a plate of Morcilla Blood Sausage and Chorizo with my fellow DDB writer Kathryn, which satiated our hunger with a satisfying and exciting combinations of new flavors.

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Another term Tasca del Tinto uses in the classic sense is “tortilla,” which translates as “small cake.” Their Tortillas  are traditional cakes of fluffy egg, meats, and flavorful olive oil with an aroma reminiscent of a traditional Iberian dining experience.

Pork lovers should drop whatever they consider more important and visit Tasca Del Tinto for the ham unto itself. Two full legs of traditional Serrano Hams (pictured below) hang over the bar. These large legs are cured over one to three years and are a delicacy in Iberia. Jamón Ibérico, a pork from pigs fed purely on acorns and described by Tasca’s owner as “The Ferrari of Serrano ham. Like caviar in Iberia,” is also featured at the bistro.

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The menu rotates every two weeks, and staples like the pork, seafood, and tortillas make Tasca Del Tinto something to crave and of an endless interest. Tasca is currently in summer spirits, plating marinated tomatoes with white cheeses and Mediterranean anchovies among other seasonal plates. Ask for suggestions and the staff can pair wine or beer from Spain and Portugal with your food.

Your loyal DDB reporters enjoyed the Tinto de Verano, or the “Drink of Summer,” a sparkling red wine mixture which was the perfect match to our cheese, meat, and tortilla.

Alongside the offerings direct from Iberia, Tasca Del Tinto stresses organic and farm-to-table connections. Seafood like fresh clams and shrimp are sourced locally from Coupeville, and draft beer is delivered from Bellingham’s best local breweries such as Chuckanut and Aslan.

At week’s end the bistro features Paella, which translates as “Spanish rice.” Paella is traditionally passed around in huge two-handed pans, with spare handles to share the bounty with friends.

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The spiced rice is loaded with shrimp, sausage, chicken, and other options to try. Paella nights will regularly feature flamenco musicians and dancers. Contact Tasca to find out when the next Paella night is happening, and make a reservation, because each night has been a full party from open to close. Visit Tasca’s Facebook page to make a reservation  (Tasca Del Tinto – Facebook).

I was fortunate to spend a half an hour with owner Miguel Losada. He explained his bold approach to the bistro as we shared a tapas plate of Serrano ham with premium cheese and olives.

Miguel was born in Brownsville, Texas, and raised in the Northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula. He served in the U.S. navy for nine years, took a post on Whidbey Island, and then discovered an entrepreneur’s life in dining. Now he works diligently to ensure Tasca del Tinto goes beyond your typical dining experience.

He related his communal counter-approach and contrasted it to the fast and narrow mentality behind the typical dining experience. “Come in, talk, drink, have some tapas, relax, and have a good time. There is no rush,” he explained, “there is so much more to be enjoyed.”

At Tasca Del Tinto the tables are welcome to rearrangement, the food is meant to be shared, and the atmosphere is sparked with the potential for an engaging dining experience. The goal is to let the delectable offerings and ambiance persuade diners to share and discover new tastes.

HOURS:

  • Tuesday – Wednesday: 4:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Thursday: 4:30 PM – 10:00 PM
  • Friday – Saturday: 4:30 PM – 11:00 PM

Phone: (360) 927-6236

Address: Downtown Bellingham; 111 W. Holly Street, Bellingham, WA.