Mood for Food: Vatos

Everyone knows to head to Margaritas at Dempsey for a classic Mexican food meal. However, for the Mexican food-lovers who are bored of the classics and want a taste of something new, Vatos Urban Tacos is the perfect option.

The popular Seoul-based chain is relatively new to Singapore – it only opened in December of 2015. The Singapore outlet is located at 36 Beach Road, tucked inside the South Beach commercial building. A large outdoor seating area welcomes guests to the restaurant, and although closed during the day, I have no doubt this area would be packed on any given night.

Two more seating options are inside: high leather-covered swivel chairs line up along the bar, and smaller leather-covered stools surround wooden tables in the main seating area. Leather seats, pipe decor, and wire ornaments create an industrial aesthetic. Dim lighting and upbeat music contribute to a lively but laid-back atmosphere. Vatos is the kind of place that would be fun to eat and hang out at no matter the time of day.

The three-page fold-out menu carries a huge variety of tacos, quesadillas, french fries, burgers, and drinks. Because of its Korean origin, Vatos calls itself KoMex cuisine. Options range from the classic Just Cheese Please Quesadilla to the more unique Kimchi Carnitas Fries.

Nine types of margaritas were offered, along with seven other types of special margaritas called Vatos Ritas. Jeane and I opted to share a virgin Strawberry Margarita ($14). Initially, I was skeptical to order this because of the steep price. However, the portion was easily shared between the two of us, and the drink itself was tasty and cooling – proving to be well-worth the price.  

Because Vatos is known for its Urban Tacos, Jeane and I ordered two types of tacos – the Chimichurri Chicken and the Baja Fish. Each taco came with the option of 2 tacos for $11 or 3 tacos for $15. We chose the two-taco portion – a choice I recommend, especially if you plan to order more food, as the two were extremely filling.

The Chimichurri Chicken taco was a great option for someone who wants a classic Mexican option. This taco featured all the classic ingredients – chicken, lettuce, sour cream, cheese – plus chimichurri salsa. For someone who loves spice in small doses, this taco had the perfect flavor. I would definitely recommend this option to anyone who is craving a classic Mexican food meal.

Personally, I’m not a fan of seafood in my Mexican food. So when Jeane suggested the Baja fish taco, I was hesitant. But this taco changed my life. Seriously, I was in awe. The fish was beer-battered pollock – a little crunchy on the outside and very soft on the inside. Spicy chipotle mayo, salsa, and coleslaw accompanied the fish. This taco was the highlight of my meal. Even if you think you don’t like seafood in your Mexican food, try this taco.

In addition to our two tacos each, Jeane and I ordered Kimchi Carnitas fries (18$). For me, this was the most underwhelming dish of the meal. I was expecting regular fries with a cool dip, but instead, I got fries hidden under a mess of chicken. Despite all of the sauce and cheese, flavor was lacking. The portion was huge, so I can see why the dish was priced the way it is. But for me, the price was not worth the taste.

Jeane and I were pretty full from our feast, but we couldn’t leave Vatos without trying the Nutella Nachos ($10). The dish features churro-chips, vanilla ice cream, nutella, and cinnamon. While delicious, the portion was so large that we couldn’t finish even half. If you come to Vatos with friends, don’t skip this dish – it can easily be shared by 5 people.

The bill came out to a steep $82.39 for two people, four dishes, and one drink. However, given the top-quality dishes and admirable atmosphere, Jeane and I were more than willing to pay the price. We left full, smiling, and making plans for our next return. To see more of Vatos, check out their Facebook page and Instagram.

Author: Jenna Nichols

Jenna Nichols is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Eye and part of the Morning Show production staff. The senior is enjoying her third year on staff and her seventh year at SAS. When she’s not writing articles or reporting for the newspaper, she’s probably watching The Office or eating Thai food.

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