Nested along the rows of bars at Seah Street is Papi’s Tacos. Opened by the crew behind the famous Employees Only, this back-alley taqueria blends fun with food to serve up only the best and most authentic Mexican delights.
From excellently done burritos to tacos, mezcal to a range of tequila-forward cocktails, this humble joint is not only great for a quick taco fix, it is also perfect for winding down after a long workday.
Adorning the shirts with “Papi knows best” on them, the chefs display what real Mexican food is like while they scoop black beans over their tomato rice, toss giant bowls of salsa and fold burritos like it’s nobody’s business—right from behind the open counter.
We ordered Papi’s Classic Margarita (S$15), Steak Quesadilla (S$15), Burrito de Carnitas (S$15) and a set of Tacos de Pescado (S$13).
It didn’t take long for the margarita to arrive. The margarita was a zesty lime cocktail that was nicely balanced without the tequila overpowering the flavour of the lime. We had ours shaken instead of frozen so it diluted a lot less quickly and retained the tang for much longer.
What’s different here is that they use coarse rock salt to line the rim of the glass instead of fine grain salt, which while was an interesting change-up, to some it might make the drink too salty to enjoy.
While it’s much smaller than the likes of Stuff’d, the Burrito de Carnitas is still an extremely generous portion meant to satiate the hungry. It was filled with slow-braised pork, Mexican rice, black beans, shredded cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream.
Not to be daunted by the amount of rice and black beans in it, the pico de gallo was extremely fresh and tangy and provided that acidity required to cut through all the flavours.
The Tacos de Pescado is a set of flour tortillas topped with grilled white dory, fresh cabbage, and smoked chipotle aioli.
It proves that size doesn’t matter here as, despite its small size, they were handheld pockets of flavour. The firm juicy white fish flaked off beautifully and was complemented by the creamy rich aioli, which was slightly spicy without overbearing.
The fresh cabbage provided a good crunch to add on to the layers of texture in the dish. Our only pity was that we devoured them too quickly.
Our last dish was the quesadilla. Within the tortillas were good honest strips of steak cooked till slightly pink in the middle and covered in cheese, served with homemade salsa and sour cream.
We had a hard time deciding if we liked the taco of the quesadilla more. The meat wasmoist and tender while the cheese provided that savoury umami taste that left us feeling guilty and sinful but still wanting more.
As the eatery is a small dining space with only 16 seats, do try to make your way down before peak hours to snag a good seat—be it over the counter to watch the chefs at work, or to dine alfresco and enjoy a good smoke.
39 Seah Street
(Closed on Sundays)
Mon to Sat: 5pm – 11.30pm
Nearest Station: City Hall
For more recommendations, read our guide on 20 Mexican Places in Singapore with authentic Mexican food.