Papi’s Tacos is a cozy and rustic Mexican taqueria located on Singapore’s bustling Seah Street.
A vibrant eatery reflecting the informal street dining culture of Central Mexico, Papi’s represents the long-awaited arrival of authentic, fuss-free Mexican fare in the Lion City.
Along with a convivial atmosphere and honest food steeped in tradition, diners are welcomed with heartfelt hospitality from a kitchen helmed by Head Chef and Partner Mauricio “Papi” Espinoza, who hails from the small town of Papalotla, Mexico and brings his heritage to an array of simple, yet mouthwatering tacos and native dishes.
And because no taqueria is complete without the requisite selection of high-quality tequilas, guests are treated to a straightforward menu of bebidas and refreshing margaritas from the gurus behind the legendary cocktail bar Employees Only. Papi’s Tacos is open all day for walk-ins and available for catering + private events.
Whether it’s lunch, dinner, happy hour, midday margarita, or a late night taco -- Papi has a seat for you.
Papi’s Tacos was like a shining star on Tanjong Pagar Road, the moment they opened their second branch in this buzzy foodie district. It was a Friday night when my sister and I visited, transported to Mexico the moment we walked in.
Rainbow lights in the background, loud hip hop music and the vibrant atmosphere. Wow the whole place was pumping! My mood was uplifted immediately, a great state of mind change if you ever want one in a second.
Led to our table, we were served a welcome drink of Tajin (Aqua Frescas - non alcoholic), a mini version of watermelon. It was an absolute palate awakening drink - sweet from watermelon, sour from lime, spice from a Chamoy sauce, balanced by agave nectar and topped with fresh whipped cream and a gummy bear for effect!
Antojitos (Mexican snacks) were served while we ordered our drinks. Holy Trinity, a must order item at a Mexican restaurant ~ homemade tortilla chips served with fresh tomato salsa and guacamole. Small chunks of avocado rather than a smooth paste was my preference.
Mixed with pickled onions and coriander which really enhanced flavour and freshness. For a world-famous signature dip like guacamole, it was easy to spot good quality in details like this. Not surprised as Papi’s has been known for its authentic Mexican food since a long time.
I chose a different Aqua Frescas, Tamarindo, to pair with my meal. It was an icy cold drink with a simple tamarind paste, tamarind syrup and agave nectar. The highlight was a sour candy ribbon on a stick which was served to go with the drink ~ I was told to have a bite of the ribbon with a sip of the drink. Fun!
It’s such an interesting combination of tangy sweet flavours. My sister went for lime margarita shaken, rather than the usual frozen style. For those who love mangoes they have a spicy mango flavour which would be fun to try if you are into funky margaritas!
The next snack Elotes, grilled sweet corn on the cob, topped with strong punchy cotija cheese crumbs, chipotle powder, homemade Aioli, garnished with refreshing chopped coriander. It was the best company for an icy cold drink! With these funky drinks, Mexican snacks and the sensational vibe all around, I was in Mexico! Didn’t take long did it?
We chose Aguachile de Barramundi for the ceviche starter which were soaked in the most exotic refreshing sauce made with jalapenos, radish, coriander, habanero & lime. The sophistication of layered flavours could escalate this to a fine dinning dish.
So refreshing with the right spice kick of jalapenos and habanero. It really was a star winner, one if you are looking for an extraordinary Mexican delight apart from the usual popular items like tacos and burritos.
Mains of mushroom quesadillas, Al Pastor (pork) tacos and Asada (beef) tacos hit the table. Mushroom quesadillas were simply yummy comforting good food. The juicy mushroom and melted cheese could never go wrong. It was almost like a mini version pizza but in a light and delightful form. This could be a perfect main for kids. Apart from mushroom, there were also other fillings - chicken, beef, pork, mixed cheese to kid’s corn!
Asada Tacos made with generous grilled grass-fed beef, homemade verde salsa, pickled and red onions where Al Pastor tacos were served with marinated pork shoulder inMexican spice, grilled pineapple, red onions, coriander and Guajillo sauce.
Different Taco flavours at Papi’s came in different homemade sauces and garnish created for different meats. Specifically chosen to ensure a harmonised combination of flavours which would pop in your mouth like no other tacos would. One great standout for Papi’s Tacos!
On top of these scrumptious Mexican treats I just have to brag about the homemade habanero sauce! If you love spicy food this is a whole new level and dimension of spice we are talking about. It really blew my mind! I was on fire but absolutely happy and…….. couldn’t stop. I could not stop despite the level of heat which was burning my mouth out. A glorious place to be. You must try it cautiously with a tiny drop first just in case you can’t handle it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Last but not least, we ended our wonderful meal with Tres Leches ~ homemade 3 milk cake with mixed berries. A Mexican version of sponge cake although the texture was very moist and dense. Not surprising as it was soaked in three kinds of milk – evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.
Sounds like heaven doesn’t it? The texture was also a bit like bread pudding but not so buttery. It certainly contained all the elements for a sweet end to heavy flavoured Mexican treats.
The first Papi’s Tacos on Seah street was opened in 2018. A tiny stall with a few counter and outdoor seats only, it catered mostly for takeaway orders. Celebrating its success through Covid they decided to open a bigger branch with many more indoor and outdoor seats for dining-in customers. What exciting news for Papi’s Tacos patrons!
Keeping most of its popular choices on the original menu at Seah street, a few more additions catering for vegans and vegetarians can be found at the Tanjong Pagar branch. The first impossible taco by Papi’s was launched, with plant-based meat, guacamole, homemade tomato salsa, lettuce, coriander and guajillo hot sauce in a corn tortilla. There’s also a “cheat on meat” burrito with the same plant based ingredient.
Upon leaving Papi’s that night my sister and I decided to host a Mexican party at home so we contacted the manager for some take away items a week later. The party was a great success, we had beef fajitas, “the Gringo” chicken burritos, more quesadillas and refreshing cactus salad! All condiments were generously provided with of course, the special habanero sauce creating some sparks over dinner, just the way I liked it.
I realised many people in Singapore are fond of Mexican food because it symbolises fun food and a great vibe but not many know where to find a real authentic Mexican restaurant. Papi’s Tacos is absolutely the one I would recommend.
As a first resort, I would recommend getting a table for dine in, just to experience the fun Mexican atmosphere and vibe hard to reach elsewhere! I guarantee you will fall in love with Papi’s Tacos and get hooked like I did.
Don’t skip dessert, and end your meal on a sweet note with the Tres Leches cake. Papi’s also has some great vegan options on their menu, making it a perfect option if you have varied diets in your household.
Flo Sander reviewed Papi's Tacos – 5 star on Facebook