The Downtown Fort Worth view from the lush second floor patio of Tinie's. (Photo by Courtney Dabney.)
Tuna tostada with avocado, chipotle aioli and cilantro.
Blue banquette seating flanks the right-hand wall at Tinie's. (Photo by Courtney Dabney.)
Artistic faux finish near the stairs that lead up to El Escondite Bar. Photo by Courtney Dabney.
The double doors leading to the patio. Photo by Courtney Dabney.
Greenery, twinkle lights and lounge seating await. Photo by Courtney Dabney.
Sarah Castillo seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
The owner of Taco Heads graduated from her food truck four years ago into an underestimated Fort Worth space on Montgomery Street. The two tiny buildings with a wooden patio spread in between, now finds itself one of the nearest neighbors to the city’s brand new $540 million showcase Dickies Arena ― whose front door sits just across the street.
Right place. Right time.
The following year, in 2017, Castillo announced plans to open a second brick and mortar restaurant called Tinie’s Mexican Rotisserie in an area nobody had given any thought to for well over 50 years ― a little place called South Main Village.
Castillo and her partners will be hosting a Sip and See of that new restaurant and bar this Friday, February 28 from 8 pm to midnight. The public is welcome to sip one of two specialty cocktails that the finally-opening Tinie’s will be serving at the event. The long-awaited eatery will officially open March 10, with a soft opening beginning March 5.
The SOMA development at 125 South Main Street was originally expected to open in January of 2018 ― two solid years ago. If it had opened according to that original plan, Tinie’s likely would have been one of the very first things to open on South Main, and would have had to go it alone for years, in a neighborhood transitioning from well-worn warehouses to the hippest new area of Fort Worth.
As everyone now knows, South Main has exploded in the past year. But thanks to some serious construction issues (like failing brick walls that had to be completely reengineered and remortared) Castillo’s Mexico City dream was far from the first thing to put South Main back on the map. Her Tinie’s Mexican Rotisserie can now join the bustling ecosystem that has emerged all around it.
Right place. Right time.
Building on Success
In the meantime, while Tinie’s was ever-so-slowly taking shape, Castillo opened another stylish Taco Heads in Dallas’ Knox-Henderson neighborhood, and solidified plans to open a little bar which will be called The Sidesaddle Saloon in the reimagined Mule Alley in the Fort Worth Stockyards. She expects that new watering hole will open this summer.
Tinie’s took root in a former industrial manufacturing space owned by landlord Laurie Henderson. Castillo and her business partner Glen Keely (who also owns Thompson’s Bookstore and Poag Mahone’s Irish Pub) have now completely transformed it into a family-friendly restaurant downstairs, with a sexy, adult bar upstairs ― complete with a lush and tropical patio and impressive views.
“Our menu will be served family-style, large-format,” Sarah Castillo tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “I love the idea of a family-style meal,” she says. Christian Lehrmann, who is also her partner on Taco Heads, will serve as Tinie’s chef.
“What started as a rotisserie chicken concept has evolved. I patterned it after Mexico City eateries and bars,” Castillo says. She’s serving chicken with mole sauce and seasonal ceviches, like the one Tinie’s is opening with ― featuring mango, serrano pepper, jicama and Tiger’s milk broth. The menu includes tamales, tacos and hand-made empanadas as well.
Choose a large format protein like Mexican rotisserie chicken, achiato roasted pork, slow braised goat, a Veracruz style fish called Pescado a La Plancha with green olives, roasted tomato and capers, or a bone-in-strip served with chimichurri sauce. The meals are all served with fresh tortillas, picante beans, roasted peppers, pickled vegetables and house salsa.
The Tinie’s interior is rustic and refined. The brick walls appear to have a pickled finish, but in reality that was just an artistic application of mortar. The right hand wall is flanked by navy blue banquettes and wooden tables, with milk glass pendants overhead, lending a vintage appeal with concrete floors under foot.
The rest will be scattered tables with arched, ladder-back chairs. A U-shaped bar stands out as the focal point towards the back of the restaurant, where you’ll find the kitchen as well.
Castillo had a little help in the design. Her mother is an interior designer who, as luck would have it, works with Joseph Minton and he lent his advice throughout the process. The entire wall below the staircase, that leads to the bar, has been faux finished in rust tones by artist Shawn Marshall.
El Escondite (which literally translated is “the hideaway”), is a snug and sexy escape on the second floor. The candle-lit space will have the red glow of its signage and features rustic wooden stools and benches for seating, as well as along the bar and at high and marble top bar tables. Wood flooring, ceiling planks, natural wood window casings and the addition of wallpaper resembling antique book bindings add age to the space.
Up a few steps and out the double doors, you’ll find the patio filled with greenery and vegetation. The oasis overlooks the downtown Fort Worth skyline. A limited menu of tapas will be available upstairs.
Ambient music will set the tone, as will the scent of Mayan incense.
“Copal reminds me of a Catholic Church. . . it will give a distinct sense of place,” Castillo says. Along with craft cocktails, and beers, El Escondite will serve an array of different tequilas and mescals, and will feature a wine list of entirely Mexican, Spanish and Latin American vintages.
Call it an escape within an escape. Right place. Right time.