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As you enter the dimly lit Tinto Wine Bar on 20th and Sansom, it feels as if you really did take that holiday to Spain. Nestled in Center City, Tinto's black bent wooden chairs and visible tapas preparation offers a romantic, rustic atmosphere for any couples looking for an escape from Penn's campus.

Tinto is the second venture of chef Jose Garces, who also opened Old City's famed Amada tapas bar in 2005.

Although the Spanish menu might seem a bit eclectic and intimidating at first, the waiters are extremely friendly and will help you order your pintxos, which are the Basque-region in northern Spain's version of tapas. It is suggested to order about six of these small tastes to equal a meal for two people.

And the sophistication of the atmosphere was only surpassed by that of the food. For more refined palates, Tinto offers everything ranging from Basque-style paella with chorizo and braised rabbit ($14) to marinated hojiblanca olives ($4). All of the tapas range between $3 and $18, with all desserts at $8.

Since there is no differentiation between appetizers and main courses at this Spanish abode, the menu is divided into a top half that displays the lighter fare and a bottom half that lists the meats and fish, which are of a more substantial proportion.

Start with one of the 10 cheese selections that range from Boucheron, a earthy goat's milk cheese to the traditional smokey-flavored Idiazabal sheep's milk cheese. All of the cheeses are served with sliced apples, bread and drizzled honey.

Other small appetizers include sandwiches and serrano ham-wrapped figs ($5) and marcona almonds ($4).

The shellfish, meats and vegetables overwhelming filling despite the appearance of small portions. The tubot fish with baby fennel and citrus ($18) had a great combination of fresh flavors, although for the price there are many other options on the menu worth exploring. The wild mushrooms with shallot and parsley ($12) had a very meaty texture and are a great option for vegetarians.

And for those of you who are 21 and older, Tinto has a selection of more than 50 wines from Spain and France to complement the pintxos. You can also order a special wine pairing ($30) where the restaurant will match wine's to your tapas selections.

While you probably won't be hungry for dessert after this fare, if you are, the chestnut profiteroles with canela gelato ($8) are sweet without being too sugary and is the only dessert option that is served warm.

While the little dishes can pile up the price for college students, if you order carefully you can indulge in high quality European cuisine without digging too far into your wallets.

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