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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Sun–Wed 11:00am–10:00pm
Thu–Sat 11:00am–midnight

Features Date-friendly, good wines, live music, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


River Oaks
2015 W. Gray St.
Houston, TX
(713) 522-1330
Pricey twists on traditional tapas, but at least you can stay still for the night

Tintos refers to its food as “Spanish influenced.” Meaning that, while the menu is pretty faithful to Spain’s various dialects of tapas, there are some fruity Caribbean accessories and modern American twists. Indeed, the gridded black exterior looks decidedly (1980s) American, and the inside’s polished, catalog-ish décor is hardly reminiscent of Madrid’s intimate tapas bars. On sweltering evenings, it’s nice to sit outside and listen to live flamenco with a terrific trio of gazpachos that are quite refreshing. Beyond that, stick with traditional tapas.

We’ve enjoyed some great caracoles (snails) here, as well as plump mussels in addictive broth, and albondigas (meatballs) in a spicy almond-tomato sauce. Paella is reliable, with enough saffrony depth. Homemade chorizo is good and not greasy, but piquillo peppers lack bite, and shrimp have sometimes come mealy and not so fresh smelling. Octopus tends to be tough, if well integrated with its flavors. The menu is priced for River Oaks, so go with a group if you want to try many different things, or risk leaving hungry and broke.

The wine selection is extensive, which means you can find a sensuous, rustic, terroir-driven wine, if you pad around the menu a bit. Or stick to the sherries, which grew up with much of this food and, in many cases, can actually improve it.

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