El Loco at Excelsior

Part 2 of the Sydney Adventures: After the second work day in Sydney, I ended up joining the team for a couple of pints and some tex-mex for… Taco Tuesdays in El Loco at Excelsior. Honestly, I felt loco for Tacos when we got there.

The place was nicely situated on a corner, with colorful wooden benches on the outside and a mix of a pub and a cantina inside. The mexican-inspired decor made for a touch of life amidst the dimmer lighting inside.

For early dinner here, the team ordered some pints of local beer, Nacho Supreme as an appetizer, and some Carne Asada, Baja Fish, and Secretos de Tacos for our Tacos.

Nacho-Supreme

Nacho Supreme

The Nacho Supreme, like any tex-mex meal, had plenty of cheese and chillies along with diced tomatoes and spring onions. Judging by how the nachos was prepared and feels to the bite, I’d say it might actually be made in-house or at least, not just shoved out of a plastic pack and placed on a plate, which is a plus in my book. It was crunchy, lightly salted and firm, being able to hold the mix of ingredients on top of it without feeling soggy at all.

Baja-fish-taco

Baja Fish Tacos

With the Baja Fish Tacos, I’m not a huge fan of it since the fish was covered in batter. I feel the fish could have been grilled and placed on the tacos instead. The salsa berde and the chipotle mayo thankfully brought some punch that helped balance its flavors.

carne-asada

Carne Asada

As for the Carne Asada, I loved the mix of the firm and chewy taco along with the slight spice mixed in with the meat. It’s what a tex-mex taco should be. It has a solid base that won’t crumble to the newly cooked meat and fresh vegetables, while not being too doughy or floury to the bite.

secretos-de-tacos

Secretos De Tacos

And last but not least, the Secretos de Tacos; while not as appetizing at first glance, I can safely say that it is quite interesting and worth a try. The secret meat blends well to the accompanying corn bits, chipotle mayo, and greens. It even led to an interesting discussion between us co-employees on what it could be, but giving the answers we came up with would spoil the surprise.

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Feeling full but wanting to make the most out of the remaining day, I went out ahead of them. It was 7:30pm thereabouts and the afternoon sun shone on my face as I walked away. I enjoyed my time at El Loco at Excelsior because of both the good food and the chance of getting to know my officemates a bit more in my short time here. It is a good place for some company and friends after a long day.

Food Score: 4/5: The food here at El Loco was hearty and filling after three or four tacos and best enjoyed with good company since the place is suited more as a casual dining and bar area after a long day.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: The decor, while slightly dim, was very colorful and vibrant without appearing too forced or loud to the eyes.

Service Score: 4/5: The service here was attentive enough to what we needed, be it additional orders or additional tissues. We even got our table reserved in advance without any problems at all.

GERD Score: 3.5/5: Given that El Loco is geared more as a dining place and a pub, there would be a limited amount of options for anyone who is dealing with GERD.

Neurodivergent Score: 3.5/5: A continual problem with Tex-Mex is the blend of seasonings and spices, which could easily trigger anyone who is sensitive to these foodstuffs. Having a menu with the exact ingredients stated would be a great bonus to neurodivergent diners with food restrictions.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5: For good tex-mex meal and time at the pub after work, El Loco should be a good treat with the mates. However, for those dealing with GERD or Neurodivergent issues, there are at least still some options to enjoy.

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El Chupacabra

For some people, dinner and drinks make a perfect combination to start off a long weekend—-or get through a rough mid-week. So when one of my good friends commented out of the blue that she wanted to have tacos and margaritas—and it was just the beginning of the work week—I suggested we drop in one Wednesday evening at El Chupacabra. This Mexican themed bar located in Poblacion, Makati, has gained a reputation for its potent drinks and cocktails, as well as being a readily accessible place for great Mexican cuisine. Since Mexican food ranks fairly high on my list of favourites, this place was a must-try.

At first it was difficult to find this place; had it not been for the crowded outside seating area I might have missed this establishment entirely. Fortunately the bar’s interior was relatively quiet so this was where we sat down. My friend ordered two of El Chupacabra’s signature street tacos: the carne asada (grilled steak) taco, and the San Francisco style lean pork sisig taco. I got the picadillo (ground beef) burrito filled with meat, beans, cheese and Mexican rice. We also decided to split an order of gringas (quesadillas) filled with garlic and cheese.  For drinks, I simply had iced tea while my buddy had a glass of La Chupadita, the house signature drink.

Unlike other restaurants wherein the tacos are served folded and filled, El Chupacabra presents its street tacos flat, with the toppings heaped up. This allows the diner to eat the taco either like a pancake, or to fold it up according to one’s preference. On the other hand the burrito was served still wrapped in foil, but with a side of plain nachos and salsa. Both the tacos as well as the burrito were rich and heavy on the spices, and the burrito in particular was oozing with cheese.  On the other hand the quesadillas were milder in flavour, with only a little zing provided by the dips. As for La Chupadita, it was just as strong as its reputation has it. Definitely this is a drink to be reckoned with.

One thing is for sure, El Chupacabra is not a place for those with delicate constitutions. The hearty flavours require a robust stomach to digest, while the drinks must be taken with caution unless one is foolhardy. This is definitely a stop in the Poblacion bar crawl, but definitely not for a quiet dinner out!

The Food Score:  4/5: As far as flavours go, this place does it well. El Chupacabra has been touted as a haven for Mexican food aficionados, and my visit here didn’t disappoint. However presentation and plating of the dishes may be improved, if only to add to the dining experience.

Ambiance/Service Score: 3.5/5. The service is fast and friendly, a plus given the many customers who are at this place at any given point. However the ambiance may be off-putting; the graffiti on the walls and the reddish lighting do not exactly make one feel cozy, and instead evoke a feel of crouching in one of those shadowy establishments so often seen in Hollywood films.

GERD Score: 2/5. Considering the place’s menu leans to Tex-Mex and for bar patrons, the cheese or the spicy heat from their different selections doesn’t give much room for anyone who has to deal with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: This place is primarily a bar, so non-alcoholic options are understandably limited. However the heavy spice content of the dishes may not sit well with some sensitive diners. Gluten free tortillas are not an option here either.

Team Glasses Score: 3/5. While El Chupacabra is certainly worth a stop for Mexican food afficionados or anyone doing a Poblacion pub crawl, it just isn’t as friendly for diners with dietary issues. Definitely not for the weak stomachs!

El Chupacabra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato