Just a few years ago, there were only a handful of Mexican eateries across the island. But there are now over a dozen bona fide Mexican and Tex-Mex joints to choose from, and we couldn’t be happier. We’ve rounded up some of the best to try, from good ol’ mainstays to a few newer kids on the block. Buen apetito! (Psst! Looking for a quick bite? Head here for the best Mexican takeaway spots…)
3D River Valley Road, #01-12
No expert in Mexican cuisine, I expected the menu here to be made up only of hard tacos and burritos, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a wide variety of dishes under the Mexican umbrella – most of which are delicious. Señor Taco has everything from enchiladas ($22) to flautas ($21) and ceviche ($21), but it’s their tacos for which they’re truly known. My favourites were the Chicharron Salsa Verde ($7), a semi-firm taco with some crispy greens and onion with crunchy pork, and the Carnitas ($7) with pork belly. Another popular choice is the Al Pastor ($6), marinated pork or chicken with pineapple atop a corn tortilla; and, if you’re not into meat, there’s the Baja ($8), consisting of beer-battered fish, red and white cabbage, pico de gallo and a chipotle-mayo sauce.
I was very confident that I could handle the “hot” side sauce and dipped into it generously, only to find that it really is hot! The guacamole ($13) was delicious, made from perfectly ripe avocados – Luis, the Mexican manager-chef and maître d’, is very particular about his avocados, I was told. All the little dishes were very filling and we didn’t seem to eat much before we were full.
I enjoyed the house margarita ($15) but found the mojito ($15) a little too sweet for my taste – then again, I never add sugar to anything. My friend had a Corona-Rita ($24), a margarita with a bottle of Corona in it, which was quite an interesting combination!
With a casual dining area outside, Señor Taco is set up as much for diners as it is for those looking to enjoy a night out. In fact, there’s a “real” Latin band that performs four times a week, as well as international DJs spinning throughout the week. We were there on a Friday, and it was great to see a totally mixed crowd, with people on the little dance floor salsa-ing away as soon as the band started. It’s the kind of place that’s good for a date night but also very popular with groups, thanks to affordable food, live entertainment and dancing – if you’ve brought your shoes with you…
Free chips and salsa? You’ll have to get an order of the Totopos (fresh tortilla chips and salsa) for $5 to get your fix.
Go there for: A choice of 10 different types of tacos, and live Latin music.
Señor Taco has happy hour every day from 5.30 to 7.30pm, offering $9 bottled beers, $11 margaritas, $12 mojitos and $9 white sangria, among other drink specials. On Taco Tuesdays, get one-for-one tacos from 6pm onwards.
53 Boat Quay
In the name of research (and a strong curiosity), my friend Stephanie and I worked our way through four different margaritas at Hombre Cantina, which is easy enough to do while catching up at this casual eatery located midway along the Boat Quay strip. It was a tough decision, but ultimately the tingly and unusual flavours of the Tamirindo (fresh tamarind and chilli; $15) won us over; the Fruta (passion fruit; $15) and Tropico de Menta (pineapple and mint; $15) were equal runners-up. To accompany the drinks, we tucked into chips and three tasty salsas – the pineapple-chilli was our favourite.
Hombre’s clever, one-price ($15), personalise-your-meal concept works like this: choose your main (burrito, taco, quesadilla, nacho, salad bowl or rice bowl), your filling (fish, pork shoulder, beef, chicken or roasted vegetables), plus a salsa and any additional toppings like cheese, guacamole or quinoa. It was difficult, but we chose well: three soft corn tortillas arrived stuffed with tasty fried dory and pico de gallo; and the quesadilla filled with Hombre’s burnt cheese blend and spicy pork was filling and delicious.
This is definitely a place to return to, with great daily drink specials, friendly staff and fresh, tasty food the big draws.
Free chips and salsa? Chips with one salsa are $7; an order of chips and three salsas is $10.
Go there for: Bang-for-your buck prices.
Hombre Cantina offers happy hour daily from 5 to 7pm, including $8 margaritas, $3 tacos, $8 Mexican bottled beers and free chicken chicarrones. From 7 to 9pm, take advantage of specials like one-for-one tacos on Tuesdays, one-for-one margaritas on Wednesdays, $8 Mexican beer and house wine on Thursdays, and $5 tequila shots on Fridays.
Cha Cha Cha
32 Lorong Mambong
Cha Cha Cha has been whipping up Mexican dishes in Holland Village for over 20 years, which makes this vibrant spot something of a dining veteran in Singapore. The key to their success is the fuss-free menu of Mexican classics – from rice and stew to tacos and burritos. Kick off with the deep-fried jalapeño rellenos ($10), jalapeño peppers stuffed with cheese, and cascara de papa ($9), potato skins layered with chilli con carne, cheese and sour cream. Yeah – those on a health kick need not apply.
Cha Cha Cha’s specialty is fajitas ($21), which was great, because I’ve never had the willpower to order any other Mexican dish; they featured piles of sliced beef squeezed into warm tortillas alongside all the sauces and edible accessories I could get my hands on. My other half always orders the menu’s most exotic dish – with crab meat enchiladas ($18.50) being the “out there” choice at Cha Cha Cha. They were soft and tangy, served with green salsa and rice, and he saw them away in a few minutes, before sneaking his fork into my huge pile of beef. I was able to fight him off with the promise of churros ($7) – delightful doughnut strips layered with hearty vanilla ice cream.
Naturally, we chased the calories down with lovely, sweet frozen margaritas ($10.50, or $45 for a jug), moving through the colours of the rainbow, from blueberry to mango.
Free chips and salsa? Yes – with hot, zingy salsa.
Go there for: A festive, laid-back atmosphere.
El Mero Mero
30 Victoria Street, #01-20 Chijmes
El Mero Mero serves an extensive selection of fabulous flavours from all corners of Mexico – and with a modern twist. Dishes are thoughtfully prepared and presented, and the ambience is fun and laid-back. The space itself is chic, with a sleek open kitchen and jars of brightly coloured pickled chillies lining the walls, lending a homey feel. There’s also plenty of outdoor seating with great music, and an alfresco bar serving up a wide range of tequilas, mezcals, cocktails and Mexican beers.
We started off with a delightful range of appetisers (there are so many good ones, it was difficult to choose) including grilled baby corn skewers ($11) – charcoal-grilled to perfection with Cotija-chilli mayo for dipping; crispy crab cones ($14) topped with guac and salmon roe; and, my favourite, donas de huitlacoche ($9), savoury smoked corn and mushroom donuts served with cotija-chili mayo, that’ll leave you wanting more. We also ordered the queso fundido ($21), a pan of melted cheese, tomatillo-serrano salsa and jalapeños served with flour tortillas – and we definitely weren’t sorry. We’re told the pulpo a las brasas ($28) – grilled octopus, corn cream and black garlic paste – is another fan favourite.
For mains, El Mero Mero offers a wide range of hearty meat options like the slow-cooked pork carnitas ($32) and ever-popular rib-eye ($65), though I went loco for the enchiladas suizas ($28), cheese-smothered corn tortillas stuffed with prawns in a soup-like tomatillo-serrano salsa (I wanted to slurp up every last bite with a spoon) while my husband enjoyed his pescado costero soft tacos ($39) – market fish, shishito, onion rings and chipotle mayo on flour tortillas – accompanied by a signature El Mero Mero cocktail ($18) – mescal, orange, fresh lime and agave.
Though we were over-the-top full, we somehow managed dessert. Our pick? Deliciously sinful chocolate ahumado ($16) – rich chocolate ganache and creamy passion-fruit milk topped with crispy churro pieces; the crispy caramel crepes sounded amazing too.
While the food at El Mero Mero doesn’t come cheap, the portions are quite generous; in any case, for food this good, it’s so worth it.
Free chips and salsa? No – you’ll need to order the salsa sampler ($14), a selection of four salsas and dips, which comes with tortilla chips; an order of guacamole ($14) comes with paper-thin tortilla chips too.
Go there for: An extensive selection of delicious modern Mex dishes.
El Mero Mero is now offering a daily happy hour special from 5 to 7pm: $9.90 for margaritas, El Mero Mero cocktails, sangria, red and white house wine, Corona and draught beer, with complimentary snacks passed around.
15 Duxton Hill
Although Lucha Loco means “crazy fight” in Spanish – a reference to Mexico’s zany masked wrestlers – this taqueria keeps its décor rather tame. Only a smattering of Mexican knick-knacks and motifs liven up its sleek wooden furnishings and rustic walls.
As we soon found out, the real punch lies in its flavour-packed Mexican street food. Served in a cute glass jar with corn chips sticking out of it, the ceviche de mango ($21) was fresh and juicy with a powerful tropical zing. The tostaditas de res ($16) was just as memorable: bite-sized tortilla chips generously topped to the edges with tender Australian sirloin steak and green tomatillo, and laced with smoky heat.
We were told that the single-serving tacos were on the smaller side, but the palm-sized Baja fish taco ($11) arrived bursting with a hunk of well-battered red snapper, mango salsa, and a refreshing mint and cabbage slaw. It proved to be a messy (but fun) affair to eat, and I would’ve gladly ordered another if I weren’t saving space for dessert. We settled on the helado de maiz ($6), a scoop of dense, buttery salted caramel and corn ice cream, topped with crunchy caramel popcorn. Being a fan of salty-sweet desserts myself, this hit all the right notes.
To wash down the food, Lucha Loco has a wide menu of drinks, including fresh fruit margaritas, mezcal and tequila. The guava and blood-orange margarita ($16) was nectary enough to hide its potent kick – a perfect start to an all-night bender, I reckon. And judging by Lucha Loco’s lively crowd (on an otherwise quiet Wednesday night at Duxton Hill), their regulars feel the same way.
Free chips and salsa? No. They can be ordered for $6 ($12 with both, salsa guacamole).
Go there for: Fresh ceviche and strong margaritas.
30 Merchant Road, #01-03 Riverside Point
This Clarke Quay favourite has a menu packed with Tex-Mex treats like giant steak, chicken and fish burritos, tacos, chimichangas, fajitas and queso fundido, not to mention great margarita specials. Sit on the terrace for a riverside view of Clarke Quay.
El Patio Mexican Restaurant and Wine Bar
34 Lorong Mambong
This brightly coloured, indoor-outdoor Holland Village eatery has been going since 1986, offering tasty menu items like jalapeño poppers, smoky ranchero wings, lamb, chicken, beef and shrimp burritos, quesadillas, tacos and fajitas, plus churros with chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream.