After reading so many reviews of this Spruce offshoot, singing its praises and heralding it as the greatest thing since sliced bread, we took the opportunity to try it for lunch today, since we had the afternoon off work (the Taqueria is only open on weekdays from 12 to 3).
It certainly was not what I expected. I thought it operated from the same premises as Spruce, but it turns out it’s within the same compound but slightly further up the hill. Honestly, being a Spruce establishment, I was expecting something with at least some chi-chi vibe, so the reality couldn’t have been further from what I imagined.
It’s literally just a shack, almost like a trailer. A couple of metal tables and chairs are outside, and there’s also a bar counter lining one side of the trailer. You place your order at a window, and a lone cook fires up your tacos inside.
We started off with 2 sets – one with a pork carnitas (a traditional pulled pork) quesadilla, and one with grilled snapper tacos – both served with a drink, tortilla chips and salsa, for $9 each.
I wanted to try the snapper taco because I’ve read so much about Californian fish tacos so I thought I’d find out what the fuss was about. I think it’s an acquired taste, because although this was quite good, it didn’t really blow me away. I think I expected something a little more fresh and clean tasting, and I found the snapper quite heavily spiced and seasoned.
The quesadillas were hot pockets of cheesy goodness. They were crisp, tasty and just the right amount of cheesy without being overwhelmingly heavy.
Both sets come with freshly fried tortilla chips and home made salsa. Their chips were really good – hand cut, rustic and actually pretty healthy-tasting. I would’ve liked the salsa a little spicier, but the guacamole on the tacos was delicious.
As usual, our eyes were too big for our stomachs. When the sets arrived they looked quite small, so we promptly ordered a la carte servings of chicken heart quesadillas (the daily special), a beef tongue taco, and a short rib taco. Both the heart and the tongue had a good texture, but I liked the juicy tenderness of the slow-cooked short rib. We polished everything off and were too full to have a proper dinner. The tacos are deceptively heavy, since each is made with 2 flour tortillas, a generous dollop of guacamole and stuffed quite full of your chosen topping.
After trying supposedly authentic tacos (i.e. not from Taco Bell), I think I find them a little too heavy and doughy for my liking, which is probably why I prefer the thinner, crispier quesadillas. If we’re ever here again, I’d like to try the quesadillas with mushrooms and roasted poblano chiles. But given the option, I think the tuna tartare at Spruce Restaurant has a louder siren call than anything at the Taqueria.
The fact that it’s at the top of the hill and not the Spruce restaurant itself threw me off. But the laidback kiosk and picnic table setup won me over.
The tacos are great value at just $3 each. The quesadillas are expensive at $6 each but taste so much better. Also, the watermelon & lime drink is worth a try but it’s not really my thing.
The short opening hours are a bit of a pain, but we’ll definitely be back if the opportunity comes up.
320 Tanglin Road
Opening hours: 12pm-3pm (weekdays only), closed on public holidays