Bringing the recipes from his hometown of Papalotla, Mexico, Chef Mauricio Espinoza (or Papi) runs one of the most authentic and flavourful Mexican taquerias in Singapore.
Papi is a colloquial term for “daddy” in Spanish. (But don’t anyhow call him daddy.)
Other than a popular outlet at Seah Street (opposite Raffles Hotel), there is a brand-new Papi’s Tacos at Tanjong Pagar.
With several Korean BBQ restaurants in the same stretch and Five Oars Coffee Roasters Heritage as neighbours, the contrasting pop of carnival colours make it quite enticing to pay a visit.
Reflecting the informal street dining culture of Central Mexico, Papi’s Tacos represents authentic, fuss-free Mexican fare.
The no-frills restaurant comes complete with vibrant décor, loud music, and fun vibes.
There is both indoor and outdoor seating, and thankfully the seats outside is still considered cooling and not that hot.
Well, nothing cold Margaritas cannot solve.
The menu is divided into Antojitos, Tacos, Burritos, Burrito Bowls, Ensaladas, El Plato Fuerte, Quesadilla, and Sides.
The basket of nacho chips was crispy (very thankfully), and addictive when paired with the refreshing chilled salsa dip.
I just wasn’t overly sure about the sides such as Pickled Jalapeño ($3) and Guacamole ($5) which cost quite a bit for the small serving.
Sure, avocados are getting much expensive and making fresh guacamole is labour-extensive, but it does feel pricey when you add all that up with the Nachos (considering some eateries do give their jalapeño complimentary with a meal).
The line-up of simple and unassuming tacos are mouth-watering and honest. They are served on corn tortillas in sets of two, which may not be enough.
There are various Tacos options which come with marinated pork shoulder, grilled grass-fed Australian beef, marinated chicken, fried dory fish, grilled zucchini, to plant-based meat.
You can try the Al Pastor ($13) with taco filled with pull-apart marinated pork shoulder, and a tangy Guajillo sauce to accentuate the spices used for the pork.
It is based on shawarma spit-grilled meat and has been a crowd favourite. The pork is being marinated in special spices and skewed onto the spit-grill, then slow-grilled for hours.
The crunch of the taco was unmistakable, and I especially savoured the different dimensions brought by the grilled pineapple and red onions.
The Pescado ($14) is a well-reviewed item and I can understand why after taking that first bite.
With fried dory fish taco with red cabbage, pickled carrots, and a chipotle aioli to finish, the flour tortilla which is made in-house from scratch was light-tasting with a lovely crisp.
You get a mix of vibrant flavours from the savouriness of the fish and tanginess of pickled vegetables. Probably my favourite item here at Papi’s Tacos.
There is also Asada ($15), a grilled grass-fed Australian beef taco. Pollo ($11) is a marinated chicken one, and there is even Impossible Tacos ($18) if you are vegan.
Tacos aside, do not underestimate dishes such as the Burrito de al Pastor ($16), Chicken Fajitas ($29) and Chicken Quesadilla ($14).
If you enjoy seafood, the Shrimp Cocktail ($18) and Aguachile de Barramundi ($24) can be up for consideration.
Come during the weekends, and there are brunch specials of Huevos a la Mexican ($13) which are scrambled eggs with jalapenos, Mama’s Pancakes ($15), Chicken Enchiladas ($23), Chicken Chilaquiles ($21), Breakfast Burrito with Chorizo ($18).
The Beef Enchiladas ($25) had grilled beef in a rolled tortilla, then topped melted Mexican cheese and sour cream. (Due to some confusion in the kitchen, they left out the verde sauce unfortunately.)
I appreciated the saucy fillings, though would have preferred if the tortilla was slightly thinner. Also wished for items here to be either bigger in portion or a tad lower in price.
Decked out in cultural memorabilia and eye-catching graffiti, the vibe at Papi’s Tacos is undeniably awesome.
Ask for some ice cold Margaritas to go to complete the experience.
Papi’s Tacos – Tanjong Pagar
33 Tanjong Pagar Road, #01-01, Singapore 088456
Opening Hours: 5pm – 11pm (Mon – Tues) 12pm – 2:30pm, 5pm – 11pm (Wed – Thurs),
12pm – 2:30pm, 5pm – 12am (Fri – Sat), 11am – 2:30pm – 5pm – 11pm (Sun)
Papi’s Tacos – Seah Street
39 Seah Street, #01-01, Singapore 188395
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm, 5pm – 10:30pm (Sun – Thurs),
12pm – 2:30pm, 5pm – 11pm (Fri – Sat)