When El Mero Mero first opened its doors five years ago, it quickly became the go-to place in the city for hearty Mexican food. But this isn't your dingy back alley tacqueria – the airy space is thoughtfully decorated and you can choose between marble tables or a seat by the open kitchen.
The food is equally inviting. There are the usual suspects like guacamole ($12/$18), baja fish tacos ($14) and hamachi and coconut ceviche ($21) done right, as well as rarer sights in Singapore such as tortilla soup ($14), a comforting bowl of tomatoes, garlic, onion and chilli blended together with flamed corn tortilla.
The cocktails aren't an afterthought either, with a drinks list that offers a variety of mezcals and tequila neat as well. Try the Horchata Bachata ($18) made with homemade horchata, a milky drink made from nuts or rice, spiked with cinnamon-infused rum.
Original review by Natasha Hong on December 4 2014
CHIJMES’ Mexican rep Señor Taco returns as El Mero Mero (Mexican slang for ‘the main man’) to sustain interest for the bright, hearty cuisine in a refined setting.
The multi-national kitchen team (none of whom are from the Central American motherland) is corralled in an open kitchen, where everyone can observe their quiet coordination and catch glimpses of flames dancing inside the Josper oven.
Take the polished décor as an indication of the prices. A meal here is not cheap (appetisers $15-$28, mains $26-$135), but a good workaround is to enjoy a leisurely lunch instead. You get two generously portioned courses for $28, and an extra $4 will nail you a small dessert.
Appetisers all tease with citrusy sharpness. Butterhead leaves come with a mango dressing in the ensalada verde, and Caesar dressing with heat in the El Mero Mero, also served with tender cubes of pork belly.
The restaurant makes all its salsas and sauces in-house, the best of which is the chipotle-spiked mayo. In the shrimp (available at lunch) and pescado corn taco trios, it adds a deeply satisfying, almost hammy background to the dish’s clever mingling of textures and blend of seashore and pickle.
The expertly cooked globs of sweetbread – crunchy outside, almost melting on the inside – came with a too-salty brown sauce with a hint of Japanese curry, and bitter clumps of corn fungus huitlacoche. At best, it’s an acquired taste. The tentacle of octopus benefits from the lick of Josper smoke and creamy accompaniment of corn and black ash. If the appetisers are too fussy, call for a slab of beef, available in four cuts ($39- $65). The arrachera (side skirt) is rich in gamey flavour, but sliced lengthwise and chewy instead of a more forgiving against-the-grain cut.
Outside, the garden seating is positioned as a post-work drinks spot, offering only bar bites ($7.50- $68) and a substantial menu of bottled Mexican beers ($13-$15), wines ($15-$19/glass), tequila and mezcal ($13-$28), and cocktails ($16-$26). Try the namesake El Mero Mero to get acquainted with tequila’s underrated, smouldering hot brother – the addition of mezcal lends the sour-style mix of lime, orange and spirit a saline-smoky backbone. The tropical option, Latin Lover, is a coconut-rich rum cocktail that’s decanted into a wide wooden bowl, not unlike the ones you’ll find at the spa.
Insist on making a reservation, because we almost missed out on dinner – and on getting to know our new main Mexican squeeze.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
What the stars mean:
★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional