Lavi Tacos: Hidden Mexican gem at Chinatown with rare birria tacos & delicious taco platters
Let’s talk about hidden gems. Lavi Tacos is certainly one, especially since we weren’t able to find them on Google Maps till recently. Located in the middle of Chinatown and Outram Park, you’d be surprised to find that Lavi Tacos is on top of a hill.
I have a fondness for restaurants hidden in secret locations; it makes your journey to the place much more fulfilling after you discover that there’s actually a gem behind its initial look. Disguised rather outlandishly, you’d be surprised to find a Mexican restaurant like Lavi Tacos at the abandoned police barracks.
I mean it! If you’re bad with directions, just follow the signboards and it’ll lead you to a vibey destination. Perhaps, it could be your next Mexican go-to?
You’ll walk into an al fresco dining space with vivid paintings championing the entire area. Lavi Tacos’ seating area is definitely more spacious as compared to other restaurants; the fact that it’s open-aired gives it a laid-back vibe that is perfect for a night out with friends over drinks.
Speaking of that, time for drinks! At Lavi’s, you’ll have to order directly from the counter. They present a hole-in-the-wall type of concept where you have the kitchen and drinks station near the entrance of the space.
Afterwards, no fret, just wait for your food and drinks to be served!
What I tried at Lavi Tacos
For 2 pax, we definitely over ordered. I guess everything on the menu was so attractive that we couldn’t decide!
For starters, they introduced us to the Loaded Nachos (S$20). Topped with plant-based fable pulled beef, sour cream and salsa, what differentiates this nacho option from others is the lack of avocados that most typical Mexican restaurants serve with their nachos.
However, that aspect is easily replaced with the generous dollops of sour cream and pulled beef. Upon first impression, you really can’t tell that the beef is plant-based.
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We also decided to try out the Taco Meat Platter (S$69) as it was newly introduced.
When the server came walking by with the whole platter, I was too stunned for words. This was exquisite. You can say this was a deconstructed taco as it was presented in that way; the choice of serving sizes, ingredients and condiments are entirely flexible and it’s up to you as to how you’d like to eat them.
This option features a selection of meats, condiments and sauces to pair with the soft taco shells. Choose between flame-grilled beef steak, Argentinian garlic prawns and chipotle pepper chicken to savour with your taco.
Alongside the protein options, you can select between mango salsa, char-grilled vegetables, corn tortillas and potatoes. On the side, you’ll receive the typical sauces that come with Mexican cuisine: salsa, chipotle and sour cream.
A platter like this feeds about 3 to 4 people, so if you’re hungry on the particular day you visit, this is worth a try as it serves about 1.5 times more ingredients than its original serving.
I loved how this made the whole meal more interactive. Instead of how typical table-behaviour went on, making your own tacos was almost like an artist painting her own work. It was as if we were at a buffet, and we were allowed to pick and choose whichever ingredient we deemed worthy enough to belong on our taco. Picky eaters, this one’s for you.
I particularly appreciated the steak out of the whole platter. Perhaps I’m biassed to beef as a beef fanatic, but these were perfectly seasoned. If I had to continue singing compliments, they aced their culinary techniques by perfecting the doneness as well. I believe these were grilled to a doneness of medium well, but it still remained adoringly tender.
Another praise-worthy ingredient would be the juicy prawns. Seasoned with light dashes of salt and pepper, I could taste the freshness of the sea with each bite I took.
At S$69, the price might look steep. But if you split it between several friends, I think this is worth the cost.
How do you enjoy your Mexican meals? I usually get a variation of hard and soft shell tacos and quesadillas. The Birria Tacos (S$25 for 2 pieces) are like a hybrid of a hard taco and a quesadilla.
I was pretty impressed by the fact that Lavi Tacos served the option of birria; unique in Singapore, the slow-cooked oxtail and brisket lamb was braised to a tender texture. Dipped with a layer of fat, the meat retained a flavourful meaty taste that wasn’t at all gamey.
The pair of hard shells came with a bowl of birria broth that was extremely aromatic. There were hints of spices in this dish, but this was so delicious that I’d still suggest for folks who are unable to take spice to give it a go. This was perhaps my favourite dish at Lavi Tacos.
Furthermore, it’s rare to see the variation of taco fillings in Singapore. The U-shape husk is primarily served with fish, steak and grilled chicken, but not birria.
What sets this dish apart from most tacos is the way they fry the taco shell. First, the shell is dipped into cheese for that savoury cheese crust and then deep fried. Stuffed between both sides of the tortilla is melted cheese that fills the whole crust. Cheese lovers, I swear by this.
It is no doubt that Lavi Tacos’ food spread is on the pricier point. I believe it’s only natural with the dedication and long procedures that go behind the scenes, so to me, it’s warranted.
Undeniably, I had a great time with the lovable ambience that made me TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday).
Expected damage: S$20 – S$30 per pax
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