Tin Marin leaves its Spanish flavors all over Riverdale
Once in a while, a restaurant opens that has beautiful food, an incredible vibe and all the finicky elements that make it worth coming back time and time again. But it is indeed rare that a neighborhood legend opens—and people from all over the globe come to the northern borough of New York City to play in its kingdom. Well, Tin Marin is that place.
“I was born in the Dominican Republic and came over to the U.S. as a pre-teen, and I’ve always been in and around the hospitality industry,” says co-owner Henry Gonzalez. “My partner, Kenia Castillo, was born in the Dominican Republic, but we met here in the U.S., where we raised our family. Like every couple, we struggled but we worked hard, and we saved because our goal was always to open up a place of our own."
Tin Marin is the brainchild of these two lovebirds, and now the establishment is going on five years as it has evolved like a “living, breathing, beautiful thing,” says Gonzalez affectionately. “To me, Tin Marin is a body. I’d like to think that I’m the head, but I know that I share this spot with Kenia. She is also, without a doubt, the heart of Tin Marin. Her work ethic, diligence, organization, planning and business savvy have brought to life ideas, and notes scribbled on a page.”
“I’ve always dreamed of an establishment that reflected, in part, who we are as a whole community of Latinos,” says Gonzalez. “But more than anything I also wanted it to feel inclusive: a place where you can bring your family, a date, your mom, your co-workers, and everyone will feel at home and taken care of.”
That’s precisely the energy here: good and sometimes surprising food and wine, surrounded by all the right kinds of people.
The menu itself is straightforward—it’s their unique version of tapas. But it’s never just that simple. “Our menu changes based on the chef’s creativity, customers’ suggestions and the seasonality,” says Gonzalez. “We also like experimenting. Every weekend we come up with a few dishes that are served in addition to our menu.”
The appeal is all in the mixing up of seasoning and cooking styles. “We borrow from all of the Spanish cultures and infuse it all with our own Tin Marin style, giving you a taste fusion of Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain’s tapas style of eating,” says Gonzalez.
One of the most sought-after elements of Tin Marin, which is the Latin American version of “eeny, meeny, miny, moe,” is the wine list that is ever-interesting and always inexpensive. “We focus on regions of Spain, Argentina, Chile and the U.S. We really try to give our customers an experience by giving them a wide range of choices that are out of the norm but that pair well with their meal and particular tastes,” says Gonzalez.
“Our cocktails are based on the traditional go-to drinks: Mojitos, Sangrias, Margaritas, Caipirinhas. These drinks might be traditional, but there’s nothing ordinary about them,” Gonzalez adds. They are, in fact, right about now working on revamping that very menu by adding a combination of some new classics: like “The Last Word” and an Oaxaca Negroni plus their own signature cocktails.
Here, right up in Riverdale, you can be one of those diners who like to sit all night and chat, or you can come and grab a quick dinner before heading home to your apartment. Or you can have a glass of Spanish wine after a long stressful day. As Gonzalez says, “Whatever your reason, the Tin Marin staff are here for you.”
Tin Marin’s favorite recipe to share is not part of the tapas, but just a simple grilled rack of lamb.
For the sauce: a red wine reduction that consists of brandy, thyme, rosemary and, of course, butter.
Served with: sautéed carrots and string beans plus mashed potatoes.
And some pairing advice for Spanish flavors and cooking from Felix E. Abarca, the general manager at Tin Marin?
“At Tin Marin we have defied the common staple of pairing reds with red meat and white wine with chicken and fish. One of our favorite grapes is Mencía, which has floral notes, it’s dry, has medium body and elegant tannin, it pairs well with practically any dish on our menu. Mencía has the range to enhance the subtle flavor of our salmon dish and also complement the strong and spicy flavors of our Spanish chorizo.”