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Tango's Tybee therapy
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When I arrive at Tango, I notice a few things: I notice the large, colorful umbrellas above the tables…the intimate, yet festive atmosphere…the singer doing Sinatra standards over in the corner.

Wait a minute: Sinatra? At an island restaurant? Shouldn’t he be belting out Buffett or something?

This is my first clue that Tango is anything but typical.

Then, after Mr. Savell… er, I mean Tim (which, as I was informed by Rob the bartender, is the only thing anyone ever calls him) and I sit down to talk, it is not long before I realize that the owner is as eclectic as the restaurant itself.

“The ideas for the décor and most of the menu items came from my travels in the West Indies, the Philippines and the Virgin Islands,” Tim says.

And then he begins to tell his tale.

“The day after my high school graduation, I flew to Jamaica. I sailed all around the Caribbean and the Indies, living on my boat, before somewhat settling on the small Jamaican island of Port Antonio. That’s where I stayed, until the locals took over the island and hijacked my ferry.”

He begins to go on with his story, so (naturally) I have to stop him and ask him to repeat himself… and elaborate.

“The island was run by this New York business man, and he wasn’t real well-liked by the locals. He overworked them, and underpaid them, and they decided to revolt. The owner ordered all his guests off of the island, and as I returned from taking the last guest over, a group of islanders boarded, drunk and wielding machetes. They ordered my friend and I off of the boat,” says Tim.

“Being visibly American, we knew we were not safe on the island,” he continues. “We got a friend to ride us to the mainland on a dinghy. Later that night, my friend had an attack of pancreatitis, and we were air-ambulanced to Miami,” he continues.

“She recovered, but after that I decided to move to St. Johns, U.S. Virgin Islands,” Tim says. “Somehow having that U.S. in the name made me feel a lot safer."

Wow. What a tale. So, to bring things up to the present, after leaving St. Johns and returning to mainland, he began to travel to all the different beaches of the East Coast, eventually making his way to Tybee, an island he describes as a "quiet gem".

Having owned his own restaurant in St. Johns, he decided to give it another go, and five years ago, Tango was born.

So what’s in the name?

“The tango is a very passionate, sensual dance,” Tim explains. “That’s how we feel about our food. We’re passionate about what we do."

The menu at Tango isn’t vast, but it includes dishes from many nationalities. With appetizers like Hawaiian Coconut Calamari (served with a spicy roasted red pepper aioli), salads like the Thai Beef Salad (grilled beef skewers over mixed greens, with oriental dressing and toasted cashews), entrees like the Argentinian Fillet Mignon (grilled and served with a Tango chimichurri sauce and O-rings (small, thinly sliced fried onions)), and nightly specials created by chef Brian Richard, Tango still has a lot to offer.

The drink menu at Tango is highly specialized as well, featuring wines from small boutique vineyards, unique tropical drinks made with exotic fruit juices, and a variety of different martinis.

“I believe in quality over quantity,” Tim says. “I would rather make sure that every item on my menu is top notch than to include just anything.”

Another thing Tim believes in is therapy… Tango style.

“When you come here, we want you to forget about your troubles,” says Tim.

“If people arrive with extra luggage in the back of their head, of what they’ve done today or what they’ve got to do tomorrow, we want to be their therapist… their exorcist. We want to get all that out.”

Tango Restaurant and Tropical Bar is at 1106 Highway 80, next to Sea Kayak of Georgia. Hours are 5:30-10 p.m. Monday, and Wednesday thru Saturday. Brunch Sunday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner from 6-10 p.m. Closed Tuesday. Enjoy live entertainment on Wednesdays and seasonally on Saturdays. Reservations recommended. Call 786-8264.