Vibrant, rich in flavour and loaded with spices, Mexican and South American cuisine has so much to offer. There are the familiar favourites: tacos topped with a multitude of fillings; guacamole and salsa served with tortilla chips, and quesadillas oozing with cheese. But also on the table is a spectrum of lesser-known dishes, perhaps not as easily found in Singapore, but every bit as delightful. From the simple tlayuda, a variation of a tortilla from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, to the hearty arroz con mariscos, a Peruvian rice dish stewed in seafood broth, an array of culinary offerings from the region remains, to most Singaporeans, yet unexplored.
Mexican and South American cuisine is incredibly diverse, but what these dishes have in common is their striking colours and complex flavours. With a frozen margarita on the side, a good Latin American meal is always a joyous occasion—ideal for both large get-togethers and casual gatherings.
The Latin American culinary scene in Singapore might not be the biggest, but it’s certainly an increasingly robust one. Joining some of the country’s most established Mexican dining concepts—such as the ever-popular Lucha Loco—are innovative restaurants that afford us something exciting and different. Canchita offers a taste of what Peruvian cuisine has to offer, Papi’s Tacos brings to our shores the convivial spirit of an authentic Mexican taqueria, while Nixta distinguishes itself with its exceptional reinventions of Mexican food.
From charming eateries to upscale establishments, Vogue Singapore rounds up some of the best Mexican and South American restaurants on the island.
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With a deep respect for Mexican culture and cooking, Nixta takes pride in the way it embraces all the rich flavours that make up the essence of Mexican cuisine. Within the restaurant’s beautifully-designed space, you’ll find juicy meats roasting over a wood-fired rotisserie and salsas ground by hand in traditional volcanic stone molcajetes.
Look forward to stunning creations such as the unique Duck Barbacoa, a slow-roasted duck leg in hoja santa leaf, as well as the Tlayuda de la Casa, which features sweet roasted corn, fresh herbs and Mexican cheese over a crispy tortilla in a style reminiscent of a pizza. Accompanied by a refreshingly light Nixta Salad that perfectly balances out the heavier flavours on the table, the dishes here put an elevated twist on comforting Mexican fare while still staying true to the region’s abundant culinary traditions.
Nixta, 116 Amoy St, Singapore 069936
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Canchita Peruvian Cuisine
Step into Canchita Peruvian Cuisine and you’ll find that the restaurant’s joyous salsa music, lush backdrop and diverse range of modern Peruvian dishes all reflect the vibrant energy of Latin America. Led by husband-and-wife chef-owner duo Daniel Chavez and Tamara Chavez, it’s one of the few places in Singapore which serves up authentic Peruvian cuisine.
When it comes to the country’s culinary specialties, you can’t miss out on the ceviches. Here, the Ceviche Clásico puts a spin on the classic dish with its use of white tiger’s milk alongside fresh fish and raw red onions. As for mains, go for the Sudado Amarillito, a moreish Peruvian fisherman soup, or the Arroz Con Mariscos, the restaurant’s signature seafood rice dish with perfectly balanced flavours—cooked similarly to a paella.
Canchita Peruvian Cuisine, Dempsey Road 9A/9B, Dempsey Hill
Enquiries: 8028 1994
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As an ever-growing list of contemporary new joints celebrate all the creative ways in which Mexican cuisine can be reimagined, Lucha Loco remains a beloved mainstay that’s long been known as one of the best Mexican restaurants on the island. Seated within the bustle of Duxton Hill, the restaurant—with its hidden garden and festive fairy lights—has been serving up the best of authentic Mexican fare for a decade now.
You can’t go wrong with the Baja Fish tacos, topped with crispy crumbed barramundi and brightened with chilli mango salsa and mint. Pair it with the Elotes—smokey cobs of barbequed, street-style corn served with chipotle mayo, cotija cheese and lime—and you’ll have yourself a winning combination.
Lucha Loco, 15 Duxton Hill, Tanjong Pagar Singapore 089598
Enquiries: 8798 1035
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Bursting with exuberant character, Papi’s Tacos is the place to head to for reliable, unpretentious Mexican fare. Boasting warm service and the perfect setting for a lively get-together, the quaint taqueria is helmed by none other than chef Mauricio Espinoza—who melds his Mexican heritage with over a decade of international culinary experience to bring to life nostalgic recipes from his hometown.
His signature dish, the Tacos al Pastor, features tender marinated pork and house-made corn tortillas roasted on a traditional Mexican spinner with fresh pineapple, seamlessly blending sweet and spicy. For a lighter bite, the Tacos de Pescado remains a steadfast crowd favourite. With fried white dory, smoked chipotle aioli and fresh cabbage atop a flour tortilla, this humble dish packs a vibrant, flavourful punch. And to round off the night, the minty lime Agua Fresca proves a refreshing treat.
Papi’s Tacos, 33 Tg Pagar Rd, #01-01, Singapore 088456 and 39 Seah St, #01-01, Singapore 188395
Enquiries: 9127 4922 (Tanjong Pagar), 6258 0701 (Seah Street)