A lovely marriage of Mexican and Texan culture, Tex-Mex is essentially Mexican food with Texan influence. Both are equally delicious, except the fusion tends to be a little less spicy than authentic Mexican flavours. The structure of the dishes is mainly the same. You get the tacos, the crisped up, cheesy quesadillas… with slight variations in the ingredients used. For example, Colby Cheddar cheese instead of Mexican Cojita cheese and black beans instead of Pinto beans. And, Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill is the pioneer of Tex-Mex dishes in Singapore.

Inside of Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill restaurant, Texas designs and shelf of alcohol

Its walls are embellished with ornaments that remind me of a Texas bar on a Hollywood Set, along with its sensual lights and formidable army of booze on the shelves. The only thing missing is the strong smell of cigar and gunpowder and… But that’s another story.

Flat lay of food at Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill - Soft Shell Tacos, Chicken Enchiladas, Chicken Chimichangas, Nachos, Signature Fajitas, Avocado-Prawn Salad, Baby Back Ribs

Their buffet promotion starts from $26.9. It’s basically free-flow of their a la carte menu, with add ons for premium items that are labelled with a star. The question everyone asks for a buffet is whether it’s worth the price. Well, you have to stick along to find out.

Tex-Mex Specialities

The Tex-Mex specialities include Chicken Chimichangas, Taco-spiced Calamari and Portobello Quesadillas, plus a few others which honestly didn’t quite make the cut.

Chicken Chimichangas

The Chicken Chimichangas left quite a strong impression. We took at least 15 minutes before digging in (while waiting for other dishes to arrive for the perfect flat-lay) but the deep-fried tortilla skin remained perfectly crispy. In contrast, the interior was warm and cheesy.

Portobello Mushroom Quesadillas and Pulled Pork Quesadillas with Pico de Gailo, Guacamole and Sour Cream

They say that when you cook mushrooms perfectly, they can taste like beef. And Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill proved the argument right with their Portobello Quesadillas, one of their highly raved dishes. A warmed up tortilla, a little crispy; just a vehicle to transport the star of the quesadilla into your mouth. The seasoning was on point, and I’m only going to mention this once because all their dishes were perfectly seasoned.

The quesadillas come with a side of queso de gailo, sour cream and guacamole. They’re supposed to add flavour and moisture to the quesadillas. But honestly, I thought it tasted better alone. 

I didn’t expect to fall in love with the Taco-spiced Calamari like I did. They were coated in a thin layer of heavily seasoned batter, with a nice, refreshing crunch. Sorry Squidward. Some might find the flavours too heavy, but that’s just how robust Mexican flavours are.

The Tex-Mex Grilled Chicken was basically a layer of cheese on top of a piece of chicken. I never had Tex-Mex Grilled Chicken but based on recipes I found online, the addition of cheese was not authentic. Not that there’s anything wrong with adapting recipes, but this was a confusing and poorly done example. Firstly, the cheese wasn’t melty nor crispy. It was reminiscent of the insides of a stale grilled cheese sandwich. It also didn’t help that the chicken had the same texture as the sand dunes in Texas.

Build your own tacos

Signature Fajitas - Classic Beef and Pulled Pork on cast iron skillet, with tortillas and pico de gailo, guacamole and sour cream on the side

The Signature Fajitas, one of the prime example of Tex-Mex cuisine, was an interesting dish, but poorly executed. Basically, build your own tacos. You can choose any two protein from the following: Chicken, Classic Beef, Wagyu-Angus, Pulled Pork, Iberico Pork, Spiced Prawn, Portobello. Do note that the Wagyu and Iberico are premium items that require an additional cost of $4.8 and $2.4 respectively. They served on a blazing hot cast-iron pan with a side of tortillas, shredded cheese and sauces. Theoretically, it’s an upgraded version of the Mexican taco since you get to consume it literally fresh off the grill. But, here’s the deal.

We ordered the Chicken, Classic Beef, Pulled Pork, and Iberico Pork and while the beef strangely reminded me of Chinese stir-fry, it was the only one that was decently tender. Everything else we tried was straight-up dry. We couldn’t finish most of it and it was even more disappointing as the Iberico pork was a premium item.

Soft Shell Tacos - Chimichurri Chicken, Spicy Chipotle, Fish & Mango Salsa

But how did their regular Soft-Shell Tacos fair? The options include: Chimichurri Chicken, Spicy Chipotle Chicken, Fish & Mango Salsa, Avocado-Prawn Mayo, Chili con Carne, BBQ Pulled Pork and Mixed Vegetables. I’m not a fan of unheated and limp tortillas but that aside, I feel like Santa Fe Tex-Mex could’ve been a little more generous with the toppings. At least the meat wasn’t dry like the Fajitas were though.

Other things

Baby Back Ribs

The Baby Back Ribs had simple flavors. But it has all it takes to be the perfect comfort food. Tender, juicy meat that falls off the bones. But straightforward flavors. Honestly, given the steep prices at other restaurants (this was $24.5), 

I had high hopes for the Buffalo Wings but it lacked in flavour. The buffalo was kinda there, but it was just dull. Not to mention, there was only a pathetic drizzle of the white sauce part (whatever it’s called) was. The wings were also skinny.

Avocado Prawn Salad flat lay

The Avocado-Prawn Salad, while fresh, had a disappointing amount of avocado and prawns. I would strong discourage anyone from getting this as an a la carte, but it’s a refreshing change of pace between all the rich flavors during the buffet.

The Mashed Potatoes were extremely buttery and this boils down to personal preference. Texture-wise, I thought it was too dry. But my friend who had dined here before said it was a lot better when he had it in the past, so this might be an inconsistency issue.

Verdict

To sum up, I’ve created a list to illustrate which are the items that I would get along with their prices to show exactly how worth it the buffet promotion is. You do the math. Furthermore, the portions they give for the buffet are quite small so if you’re coming with a group you have the liberty to try a multitude of dishes.

  • Portobello Quesadillas $8.5
  • Pulled Pork Quesadillas $9.5
  • Taco-spiced Calamari $11
  • BBQ Baby Back Ribs $24
  • Chicken Chimichangas $18

Things I highly discourage getting:

  • Buffalo Wings
  • Tex-Mex Grilled Chicken
  • Avocado-Prawn Salad

Do note that the buffet is considered a promotion by Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill. Thus, the 30% voucher from Chope cannot be used for this.

Location: 6 Purvis St, Singapore 188585
Tel: +65 6272 2775
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 12-3, 5-10pm; Sat-Sun & PH 12-10pm

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