Running out of lunch spots around the CBD? Don’t worry, here’s a new spot that’ll make lunch hour the best (and most delicious) part of your workday.
Opening up amongst the other trendy eateries along Amoy Street in the Telok Ayer area, Chico Loco is a fast-casual Mexican spit-roasted chicken joint. From sharing plates of sizzling spit-roasted chicken to tasty salads, tacos, desserts and more, there’s something for every palate.
Walk down Amoy Street, and the buzzing neon sign from Chico Loco is sure to catch your eye. Occupying the first floor of a shophouse space, this fast-casual Mexican eatery opens up into a courtyard-like area.
You can sit on benches surrounded by greenery, or under the skylight installation which provides excellent food photography lighting. Industrial chic details like red bricks, terracotta tiles and copper finishes come together with the open kitchen to create a lively social dining space.
With enticing aromas wafting all around us, we simply had to dive straight into the food.
We started with two dishes from their bar bites menu. The snacks portion of their menu means that you can drop by Chico Loco after work for a drink and something to munch on.
The Mexican Prawn Toast (S$13) reminded me of a thicker and juicier version of kimchi pancakes. Chunks of succulent prawn were scattered within a piece of fluffy, savoury toast.
The dish also came with strips of pickled cucumber, and the tangy taste was really refreshing.
Topped with a generous dollop of salsa macha (smoky oil salsa), each bite had a spicy kick and a lingering nutty flavour.
Another simple yet tasty bar bite is the Hot Tenders (S$12), which is crispy, fried chicken tenders. Even though this technically isn’t Mexican grub, it’s a popular dish that goes well with drinks.
I particularly liked the spicy BBQ sauce and sour cream that came with the tenders. Besides the heat and piquant flavour, the sauce also alleviated the dryness of the chicken.
Of course, the main star of the restaurant is their Whole Chicken (S$32, S$17 for Half, S$9 for Quarter) that’s organic-fed, hormone-free and free-range. Brined overnight, the whole chicken was also slow-cooked with a mystery mix of Mexican spices.
Unfortunately, I have to say that I wasn’t all that impressed with the chicken. While it was certainly tender, some parts were a little too dense and dry for my liking.
I feel that what really saved the dish were the sauces. You can add on a variety of sauces for S$2 each, including Smokey Chipotle BBQ, Green Peppercorn & Jalapeno Gravy, Citrus, Serrano & Tomatillo and Habanero & Mango.
Depending on how well you take spice, the Smokey Chipotle BBQ might be too spicy for you (though I thought it was pretty mild). The other three sauces added a tinge of citrus-y flavour to the chicken, which helped to brighten the taste considerably.
What I actually enjoyed more at Chico Loco was the Lamb (S$23 for 250g, S$12 for 125g). Gamey, tender and with a good meat-to-fat ratio, this yummy meat dish went really well with the Chimichurri Yoghurt (S$2) sauce.
I liked how the minty notes from the sauce helped to prevent the lamb from getting too jelak for me.
If you need some carbs with your meal, you can always add on sides like their Rice (S$4), Fries (S$5) or ChicoSlaw (S$6). Seasoned with rosemary salt for a hint of fragrance, the fries were a simple staple.
I’m usually not a fan of coleslaw, but Chico Loco may have made me a convert with their ChicoSlaw. The refreshing notes of green mango and papaya brought to mind a less spicy version of Thai salads, and made the slaw more appetising too.
The rice is cooked with chicken fat and served with tomatillo (Mexican green tomatoes) bits. I found that this actually tasted a lot like chicken rice, so if you’re looking for an Asian carb, this is it.
Those of you looking for something lighter can keep a lookout for the Salad Special (S$13, +S$7 to add 100g chicken, +S$8 to add 100g lamb), which change every week.
The salad I tried was a lovely combination of sweet potatoes with skin, cheese cubes and toasted almonds, all on a bed of greens. I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty this salad was – I would definitely order it again.
For those with bigger appetites, you can probably finish off a whole Lamb Burrito (S$16) on your own.
Wrapped tightly in a thin house-made tortilla wrap, the burrito was filled with pulled lamb, beans and quinoa, rice, pickled jalapenos and cucumbers. It comes with lots of Chimichurri Yoghurt sauce too. If you’re still not satisfied, you can crunch on the tortilla chips too.
Finish off your meal with Super Natural Coconut Soft Serve (S$6), and choose from three different Toppings (+S$1). The Raspberry, Anise & Dark Chocolate added a touch of decadence to the fragrant coconut soft serve, though I found it a tad cloying half-way through.
The table unanimously agreed that the Fresh Pineapple & Agave was too sour for us. Though if you like a refreshing and citrus end to your meal, this might be up your alley.
My favourite was the Salted Butterscotch & Activated Pepitas, which had a good balance of salty and sweet flavours. The pepitas (pumpkin seeds) also added a hint of nuttiness and some crunch.
For those who’re looking for after-work drinks, Chico Loco offers over 30 craft beers, with Happy Hour from 5pm – 7pm on weekdays.
Since we’re at a Mexican restaurant, we had to get a glass of Frozen Chico Margarita (S$14/a glass, S$52/jug). Refreshing and tart, this margarita was simply mixed with calamansi and lime.
We also tried their signature Frozen Loco Paloma (S$14/glass, S$52/jug), which was also a citrus cocktail. Fruity flavours abound with the addition of mandarin and grapefruit, though the latter also infused a hint of bitterness.
With a mostly promising menu, Chico Loco is definitely an up-and-coming contender on Amoy Street. I’d love to see how they improve their rendition of spit-roasted chicken, though it might also be a personal preference for gamier meats than poultry.
Go for the Lamb Burrito or bar bites, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Expected damage: S$10 – S$30 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
102 Amoy Street, Singapore 069922
102 Amoy Street, Singapore 069922