Close friends know that I often lament on the lack of genuine hearty Mexican food in Singapore. Sure, there are Tex-Mex and Cali-Mex, but the craving for authentic Mexican grub won't subside. Maybe it's because the Mex dishes that I've tasted previously lacked a certain finesse. Before resigning to overstuffed home-cooked tacos, a glimpse of hope shines on Seah street in the form of Papi's Tacos.
Launched in July, the eye-catching Hispanic eatery serves made-to-order Mexican staples such as tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and the indispensable nachos with guacamole. Employees Only, a notable New York-inspired speakeasy at Amoy Street, is the brainchild behind this venture. A restaurant is only as good as its chef. So it's safe to declare that Papi's Tacos is in good hands with executive chef and partner, Mauricio ‘Papi’ Espinoza.
Respecting the nature of every ingredient, Mauricio satisfies appetites with nostalgic recipes from his hometown, Tlaxcala—a small state in Central Mexico. The amiable chef puts his years of international culinary experience on display with an open show kitchen. Unobstructed by the vintage taco truck-inspired setting and graffiti streets of Mexico, the intimate 16-seater bar top section allows diners to strike a conversation or marvel at Mauricio & team's skilled Mexican cooking techniques in a comfortable space.
Each dish on the rustic menu represents a piece of Mexican culture prepared by Mauricio. His signature dish is Tostadas de Pollo—crispy homemade corn tortillas with refried beans, pulled chicken slow-cooked with chipotle and fresh tomatoes, pico de gallo and queso fresco. Don't stop at that. Order Tacos de Asada, juicy marinated steak on housemade corn tortillas, and Burrito de Carnitas, which consists of slow-braised pork and Mexican rice too.
What's Mexican fare without Margaritas? Concocted by bar veteran Steve Schneider, choose from a rotating selection from lime to strawberry, spicy mango and pineapple. Beer fanatics will be pleased with the thirst-quenching private label beer, Trouble Brewing.
Previously a night-only eatery, Papi's Tacos recently introduced their lunch service with a straightforward menu of three sets—each consists of a hero main dish, toasty chips and the refreshing Pico de Gallo.
1. Papi’s Set No. 1 ($18): A basket of three tacos making it the perfect sharing portion for two. Taco lovers can choose between the crowd favourite taco fillings—Tacos De Pollo or Tacos De Pescado.
2. Papi’s Set No. 2 ($15): A spotlight on quesadillas—served in slices of four, diners will have a choice of either the meaty chicken quesadilla or the cheesy mushroom quesadilla.
3. Papi’s Set No. 3 ($14): A medley that'll appeal to health-conscious individuals with its salad bowl main that includes poached Mexican cactus, red onion, red radish and Oaxaca cheese.