Day or night, the atmosphere at Papi’s Tacos on Seah St. is electric. This hole in the wall taqueria dishes out explosive flavours and vibes that will transport you to Mexico, reeling you in from the first bite.
Fresh off a holiday in Mexico City, my Amigas (friends) and I cautiously looked to get our Mexican fix knowing well Singapore is not synonymous with the cuisine. As a regular of Papi’s Tacos now, I understand why it came highly recommended by the foodies circle and why you need to get in on the experience too.
On my first visit, I met executive chef Mauricio ‘Papi’ Espinoza. He happily shared (between tequila shots) how Papi’s Tacos is attempting to recreate a genuine taqueria dining experience in Singapore. With intimate seating around an open kitchen, family recipes, an Ofrenda (home altar) and an enthusiastic crew that never lets your cocktail glass go empty, it’s no surprise I find myself going back for the people and the delicious fuss-free food.
A standard order at Papi’s for me would start with The Holy Trinity: tortilla chips accompanied by Guacamole and Pico de Gallo (salsa). It’s so addictive and makes a great side as you knock back some tasty cocktails (P.S. $10 margaritas at happy hour, 3-7pm daily). Then I’ll get the Esquites (grilled corn) with smoked chipotle aioli and Mexican cheese – they go the extra mile by getting the corn off the cob!
For mains, I’d debate between the crowd favourite Suadero (beef) taco – brisket cooked to melt in your mouth perfection garnished with pickled red onions and herbs, or what I personally believe to be the best Pescado (fish) tacos I’ve had to date. The smoked chipotle aioli sauce that accompanies the perfectly grilled fish and topped with fresh cabbage for crunch is to die for.
For something comforting, I’d opt for the Chorizo Quesadilla packed with a spicy filling, generous amounts of cheese for the perfect cheese pull and sour cream to cut the heat and balance the whole dish. While it’s big enough for sharing, I could easily polish it off solo.
Because you’ve made it this far, here are some insider tips only Papi’s regulars know:
- Make friends with DJeff, the bar manager. He’ll let you try his off the menu experiments like his now-famous hibiscus margarita (code name: La Diabla); or even tequilas and mezcals not to be found anywhere else in Singapore.
- If you like spice, order their homemade salsas. These come in 4 levels of spiciness, so have fun experimenting and finding the one that pairs perfectly with your food.
- Always make a booking! Especially on Taco Tuesdays (3 tacos for the price of 2). While you’re at it, reserve a slice (or more) of their tequila-frosted Tres Leches cake as it sells out quicker than you can say Uno, dos, tres.