Vatos Urban Tacos – Glorious Mexican Food, With Love from Korea: Vegetarian Dining Review
Vegetarian Friendly Factor –
Vegan Friendly Factor –
What’s in a name you think? With a name like Vatos, plenty. Vatos is Mexican slang for dudes and is a Ko-Mex (Korean and Mexican fusion) den founded by three Koreans from California and Texas. The story only just begins here.
These guys grew up surrounded by Mexican influence – fellow immigrant friends sharing lunch boxes, jobs in Mexican restaurants in high school (this is So Cal we are talking about) and easy access to tortillas to wrap left over home cooked Korean food.
So when the Korean friends found themselves back in Korea for work, they conjured up this fantastic new palate that merged Kimchi from Korea in a burrito from Mexico and voila, you have Ko-Mex – a cuisine unique to Vatos!
Vatos Urban Tacos came to Singapore in 2016 and has since then been dishing out some mean tacos and cocktails.
The Vibe at Vatos Urban Tacos
When I stepped in for a Saturday night date with the beau, I knew I had picked the right spot. Housed in an alley, with low lights and brick wall interiors, Vatos has a relaxed and upbeat ambience – just right to catch up and unwind.
The Drinks at Vatos Urban Tacos
Let’s dive into the drinks menu. While Vatos has a selection of the go to Mexican cocktails – Daiquiris and Margaritas, what puts them on the map is their ‘Vatos’ Ritas’. Combining a frozen Margarita with… an inverted Beer (yup, I’m not kidding). This concoction is one delightful (and strong) drink both visually and for the tastebuds.
While you can choose from an assortment of flavours, I went classic with a CoronaRita ($30) which is a frozen Lime Margarita paired with a Corona from Mexico. As the beer slowly emptied into my frozen margarita, I could taste the marriage of the two alcohols. Quite a combo indeed.
The Ko-Mex at Vatos Urban Tacos
As you sip away at your drink, dig into a gorgeous plate of Nacho Mama’s Nachos (S$25). This huge portion with every Mexican ingredient you can imagine (think beans, hot queso, bechamel, jalapeños, pico de gallo and some very fresh guacamole) is absolutely delicious and one of the best such plates I’ve had in Singapore. The chips are crisped to perfection, the beans are rightly seasoned with a variety of spices and the heat level is just perfect.
Now if you would prefer a lighter chips starter, opt for the 3 Amigos (S$12, no bets on the inspirations for the name). The quintessential combination of roasted corn and bean salsa, Guac and pico de gallo served with warm chips on the side is the perfect way to whet your appetite for more.
Now don’t go over stuffing yourself with chips, cause the dish that came up next is a MUST TRY for all vegetarians.
This, my friends, is the Tamales (S$16). If you are a Food Network addict like myself, then you must have watched quite a few tamale rolled into the corn husk, stuffed with meat. I have always wanted to try a meat free version. Imagine my surprise when I saw a vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom version on the Vatos menu. I had to have it.
The Tamales have a traditional Mexican ring to them, the way I believe Mexican grandmas would make it. And I loved it. Buttery, with the wholesome taste of maize, the tamale almost reminded me of a quiche. I cranked up the heat level with the spicy Chimichurri sauce served alongside. Add a dash of sour cream, and you’re good to go.
For main course, vegetarians can chose from Burrito bowls, Quesadillas, Tacos and Burritos. On this trip, I decided to go for the in-house special, Vatos Style Burrito (S$18).
In the Burrito, you can taste the Korean influence through the addition of Kimchi and an Asian slaw with a soy-sesame dressing. Spicy and stuffed with rice, beans and toppings, this burrito is grand and filling. The interesting addition here is large cut French Fries. When I questioned its presence, Sid exclaimed that fries go everywhere in California.
The above portions could easily serve 3-4pax and by the end of this meal, you are happily stuffed. So, if you are craving Mexican, but are tried of the usual fare, head to Vatos for a change and be impressed.
Vatos Urban Tacos: 36 Beach Road The South Beach, Singapore 189766, Singapore. P: +65 6385 6010
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Aruna Rao is a nomad at heart, always on the lookout for new adventures, be they related to food, places or experiences. A full-time working mother to 3 gorgeous kids, she’s lived in 4 countries and declares that ‘home is where her kitchen is’.