When Tinga Tacos (308 W. McDaniel St., Springfield, 417-831-8007, open Tues.–Weds. 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m., Thurs.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 a.m.) opened up in downtown Springfield boasting funky tacos and clever side dishes, much of the chatter revolved around their (very welcome) hours: The door stays open until the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, making it one of not-nearly-enough late-night, post-bar dining spots.
I haven’t been to Tinga Tacos that late, though. Instead, my husband, Eli, and I visited one afternoon for a late lunch date, and the scene was pretty quiet at that time of day. There were just a few other diners in the small restaurant when we walked through the door. Service was friendly and quick, and by the time our food arrived at the table we were the only diners left in the place. We decided to relish the quiet time (we have two kids at home whose volume levels tend to fall somewhere between “exaggerated shout-whisper” and “banshee”) and tuck into our lunch.
We started with chips and queso, which is technically a side but served as our appetizer. The queso is thick and features tender chunks of peppers in every gooey bite. After our first few crunchy dips, our tacos arrived.
I ordered the Fu Yu taco in a crunchy shell with a side of garlic-cilantro rice. The rice was tasty (heavy on the cilantro but perhaps a bit too light on the garlic) and I ate every bite of it, but it was the taco that won me over big time. It’s filled with tofu, mango habanero sauce, cabbage, cilantro and pickled carrots and onions. The menu just said “tofu,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the protein. It was the pickled veggies and mango habanero flavors that piqued my interest, to be honest. Turns out, that tofu is incredible. It’s so delightfully seasoned, with a heavy dose of flavorful spices and an acidic tang. I asked what the seasonings were, but the staff was tight-lipped about what the specific ingredients are. I would go back just for a bowl of the tofu, truthfully. It was that good.