Lower East Side Taqueria
A casual, cute restaurant offering snacky Mexican dishes and a good tequila and mezcal selection.
This Mexican eatery offers items like octopus and squid burrito ($18) and chilli con carne tacos (from $13)—in three levels of spiciness—which you can wash down with milky horchata ($5), craft beers (from $7) and tequila tasting flights (from $28).
The buzz: The team behind Spathe Public House have just launched this open air Mexican eatery on East Coast Road, nearby other hip spots like Rabbit Carrot Gun.
The vibe: It’s a funky colorful space, with bright green, blue and yellow accents. The ceiling is decorated with a “chandelier” made of chairs, and there are raw zinc walls (salvaged from shipyards) and faux mounted animal-head decorations.
The food: Dig into plates such as the charcoal grilled beef with grape and green apple salad ($28), as well as snacky items like the octopus and squid burrito ($18) and chilli con carne tacos (from $13), which come in three levels of spiciness. (Warning: They’re serious about their chilli. Level one provides a comfortable heat, level two is pleasingly tongue numbing and level three is truly incendiary, and will leave your mouth burning long after the meal.)
The drinks: Wash down all that grub down with milky horchata ($5)—that should quell the flames—craft beers (from $7/half pint; $12/pint) and tequila tasting flights (from $28). There’s a good happy hour deal too: draught pints go for half pint prices before 8pm.
Why you’ll be back: It’s a chilled-out, affordable spot to chow down on creative Mexican eats and throw back cold craft brews in the East.
The restaurant’s signage and website loudly proclaims it “Mexican inspired”—a smart move, given how strangely finicky Singaporean diners can be when it comes to the authenticity of Mexican food.
Unfortunately, though it’s a cute and inviting space with a healthy crowd of smiling east-siders, a meal here turns out to be neither Mexican nor inspired. Classic snacks, like chilli con carne tacos ($18) and our waitress’s personal favorite, pork carnitas quesadillas ($11) are so very basic; they tick all the boxes but don’t do anything more.
Same goes for burritos like the cumin grilled chicken and lime rice ($13) and the squid, octopus and green apple ($15). Despite their brilliant-sounding ingredient combos, these are some of the most watered-down tasting burritos we’ve tried in Singapore. The accompanying pots of condiments and salsas ($2.50 per additional serving) are just as lackluster.
All that said, it’s a great place for some serious boozing in the neighborhood—beer bars abound in Katong and Joo Chiat, but there aren’t many good specialty liquor places—as Lower East Side has a pretty comprehensive tequila, mezcal and cachaça list. In particular, the tequila and mezcal tasting flights (from $29/trio, but goes up to $61 for the premium pours) sound great. Their happy hour (until 8pm) isn’t too shabby either: 1-for-1 cava ($19), sangria ($14) and draft beer ($15-16/pint).
When nice and plastered, one can opt for braver plates like cuello de pollo (deep fried chicken necks slathered in lime salt, $7) or taking up their level 5 hot sauce taco challenge (eat 3 tacos in 5 minutes and they’re on the house), which are good clean mouth-searing fun. Meanwhile, sweet-toothed drunks would love the churros ($8), which look off-puttingly phallic but are delicious, all hot and crunchy and dipped in a Nutella-like substance.
When the weather is good, eating outside can be a truly enjoyable dining experience. These joints with charming open air areas are just the place to dine on breezy evenings.