It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s already been two years since beloved Downtown dining spot Tinoco’s shuttered its longtime location in the Arts Factory and moved into the Las Vegas Club casino. If you aren’t familiar with Tinoco’s Kitchen, you’ve been missing out. If you were a regular visitor, you may have been a little worried about the relocation, or afraid the restaurant’s artsy charms and creative menu would be compromised by Fremont Street. (Restaurants tend to aim low there; we can admit it.)
Don’t be. With its vintage surroundings, Tinoco’s 2.0 may be even more charming. And while there are some more mainstream breakfast and lunch options added in, the stunners are still here. It’s more than worth the sometimes confusing trip through this constantly changing casino to get at Tinoco’s food, which always looks, tastes and feels more fresh and vibrant than at any other Downtown three-mealer.
Seafood always has been a strength for Enrique Tinoco and his crew, and my favorite fish dish here comes at breakfast. Eggs Chesapeake is a delightful upgrade on the traditional Benedict, with poached eggs perched atop crab cakes in a tingly, bright red-pepper sauce. Tinoco’s crab cakes could only be improved by adding more of them to my plate. They are all crab and very little cake, with great chunks of sweet meat mingling with the richness of the runny egg yolk.
For lunch, it has to be lobster ravioli, more fresh sea treasure tucked inside delicate pasta with mushrooms, juicy shrimp and a familiar-yet-still-appreciated garlic white-wine sauce. Dinner brings some heavier fare, like a flat iron steak, rack of lamb or solid chicken parmigiana, but I’ll stick with the seafood again. There’s a trio of salmon, halibut and ahi tuna; crab-stuffed shrimp with lemon, risotto and asparagus; or simple orange roughy done scampi-style over angel hair pasta. It’s all classy, colorful cuisine, and it makes Tinoco’s the easygoing star of this Downtown casino.