Señor Taco Makes a Sizzling Return to Clarke Quay


The catchphrase “never let a good crisis go to waste” has often been heard during major crises and it rings particularly true in the curious case study of Mexican food in Singapore. If not for the 2008 financial crisis, we might not have Señor Taco today.

When the Mexican company he worked at in Singapore shut its office here, lawyer Alejandro Blanco made his move to fill the local gap in Mexican street grub. In 2009, Señor Taco was born as a taco kiosk at Clarke Quay. Fast forward 15 years and a few moves and closures in between, the taqueria has come full circle with its return to the heart of Clarke Quay, overlooking the central fountain. The new 3,500 sq. ft. diner is big and bold–not only in its flavours, but also in its vibe.

Señor Taco at Clarke Quay. Photo © Fen Chia.

The brightly coloured interior of Señor Taco is spacious and welcoming. It is casual yet fashionable at the same time in its red and white colours.

Señor Taco only opens from 5 pm onwards for drinks and dinner and on this evening, it is a tough call at first whether to dine alfresco or head to the interior. Both welcome different personalities, but as it turns out, indoors offers as much opportunity to people watch as much as outdoors.

It was a Wednesday when I went – and that means bachata classes from 7.30pm to 8.30pm against the groovy beats of live Latin American music. Indeed, there is something going on most days, be it salsa, kizomba or afrobeats and Latin dances by professional instructors and the music by the live band could be Reggaeton, Mariachi, Latin Pop, Corridos, and Norteño music. A mouthful for the uninitiated, but it is an all-round sensory journey to discover South America, with Mexican cooking, piñata and agave master workshops to come. It also turns out that Wednesday is Ladies’ Night with free flow drinks from 5.30pm to 8.30pm! The guys are not left out though–there is happy hour everyday (5pm to 8.30pm) for drink deals.

The indoor space is huge and features not only a bar but also a live band and a dance floor for latino dance classes. Photo © Fen Chia.

We begin with the drinks – we are not heavy drinkers, but there is a huge range, including several non-alcoholic ones. In any case, we each pick a choice as Latino as possible as it is our first time in eons having a Mexican night out–one tequila cocktail and one mezcal.

The Jarrito tequila cocktail (S$21) contains grapefruit juice, lime juice, salt, bubbly grapefruit soda, tajin (a spice mix of chili peppers, lime and salt) and chamoy (a pickled fruit condiment) while the Spicy Mezcal Margarita (S$21) is made with orange-infused mezcal, lime juice, agave and sliced jalapenos. Both are fresh and fruity and there is just a little heat from the spices, with the mezcal giving a tad more kick with the added peppers to chew on. These drinks are sweet, salty, sour and spicy all at once.

L-R: Jarrito and Spicy Mezcal Margarita. Photo © Fen Chia.

What better to whet our appetites than the starter that arrives with our drinks–Nachos Queso Dip (S$22), featuring warm and crisp tortilla chips that we dip in my favourite chilled guacamole, polishing the bowl off completely as members of today’s avocado generation. The dish also comes with melted cheese (queso), pico de gallo (a salsa made of tomato, onion and peppers) and pickled jalapeños. We are amazed to learn that Bianco also started a factory that is now one of the suppliers of tortillas to many other notable Latin American restaurants here as well, a savvy business move that benefits us consumers so that we get freshly made tortillas instead of frozen ones.

Is the star of Nachos Queso Dip the tortilla chips or the guacamole? Both are awesome, but we love avocado! Photo © Fen Chia.

I am a raw fanatic and cannot contain my excitement in finishing most of the next dish, Aguachile Ceviche (S$24) by myself. A note of caution for those expecting fish: that is what you mostly get when ordering Peruvian ceviche, but the Mexican version frequently features prawns, like the one here. Black prawns are cold-cooked in a chilli lime juice marinade with sliced cucumber and red onions, served in a mortar accompanied by a rich chipotle mayo dressing. I enjoy Kung Chae Nampla in casual Thai eateries, so this dish does not faze me at all as it does my companion.

Aguachile Ceviche features cold-cooked marinated prawns. Photo © Fen Chia.

We are delighted at the arrival of our tacos next, which Señor Taco serves in a pair. For variety we decide try both beef and pork, but are convinced that the two pork-based recommendations are completely different, so we proceed with both. And the textures are indeed distinct.

The Al Pastor (S$16) is kurobuta pork marinated with more than 30 spices and spit-roasted with grilled pineapple, onions and coriander. Although it was flavourful, we are more taken with the Chicharron Salsa Verde (S$16) which was more tender. Perhaps it could be the fact that many of us love pig skin and lard usually in Asian cooking and I also particularly appreciate pulled pork for its tender texture. In the Chicharron Salsa Verde, the meat is slow cooked in green chilli sauce and topped with crunchy pork rinds for that contrast. This is my favourite dish of the evening.

Al Pastor. Photo © Fen Chia.

Chicharron Salsa Verde. Photo © Fen Chia.

The Crunchy Fish (S$17) is a bit more prosaic, but still offers a surprise as it comprises a deep fried tortilla, closed unlike the other two, filled with stir-fried cod fish topped with sour cream, a hot sauce and vegetables. This is probably a safer option for the less adventurous, but as always a dip in the chipotle (mayo based salsa made with chipotle chiles), habanero (an intriguingly apricot-coloured spicy salsa creamy sauce made of orange habaneros) or guacamole sauces that come with most of the dishes make them dance more on your tastebuds. For the vegetarians, there are also intriguing pulled jackfruit and grilled cheese tacos, and for other meat-lovers, tenderloin beef and grilled chicken. Even picky eaters would be spoilt for choice.

The Crunchy Fish tacos are closed and smothered in vegetables. Photo © Fen Chia.

By this time the live band is in full swing and the number of very enthusiastic gyrating humans on the dance floor is growing. Indeed if this mid-week crowd is anything to go by, the musical vibes must be even more upbeat on weekends. If you are not a dancer or people-watcher though and are looking to have a good long conversation with your friends, it would be better for you to opt for outdoor seating.

Our mains, the Birria (S$28), took quite a while to arrive and for good reason–the lamb is slow-cooked for 48 hours, with dried mild mexican chillies, crispy corn tortilla with mozzarella cheese, served with fresh chopped onions and coriander. At this stage the lamb is extremely tender and does not come across as too gamey with the spices. In any case, the sauces help to temper any of the flavours that do not suit your palate.

Birria, the only lamb dish on the menu. Photo © Fen Chia.

As we are really keen to get some beef as well (since we covered the spectrum of proteins tonight), we also ordered the Torta de Milanesa (S$24), a hearty steak sandwich filled with grilled cheese, avocado, beans, tomato and mayo. I find this wholesome but rather heavy for us at this point as the beef is breaded–it would work great on another occasion as the centrepiece of a light dinner, with just another starter or taco order and a drink.

Torta de Milanesa. I love those jalapenos! Photo © Fen Chia.

After the last dish of an extremely flavourful and diversely-comprised Mexican meal, we have just a little room left for dessert, but unfortunately not churros despite how tempted we were. The classic Latino treat for the sweet-toothed, the fried dough sticks in chocolate sauce would have tipped us over into a purgatory of decadence and we are already teetering at the edge of it.

We wisely opt for the Chamoyada (S$15), made of fresh mango and mango sorbet, sweet and spicy chamoy, topped with a bit of tajin chilli powder. The tart and refreshing icy burst from the mango and sorbet is just the perfect thing to end the day after a delicious but indulgent Señor Taco meal.

The tangy mango-based Chamoyada. Photo © Fen Chia.

Definitely another drink was calling, but we leave that to another day, with good reason to return given the numerous dishes that we have not tried but wanted to try. Maybe swivelling our hips to salsa the next time would be a good mid-meal break next time.

Señor Taco
Block 3C #01-09A
River Valley Road
Singapore 179022


About Author

When not checking out new hotels or restaurants, Singapore-based writer Fen spends her time reading obsessively about and travelling to destinations with unpronounceable names. She also can't stop getting sentimental about vanishing trades and documenting them for posterity.

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