Tacolicious: A Mexican Comfort Food Mecca

By Sophie Steiner, March 9, 2021

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An implicit rule in the art of taco making is that texture – and lots of it – is always good. A crunch of a masa shell, a dribble of spicy salsa, a squirt of a popping ripe tomato, a chomp of fresh slaw, a chewy pull of a flour tortilla or a hot, stringy ooze of melted mozzarella – can transform a humdrum taco into something infinitely more engaging. 

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With that in mind, it’s not earth shattering news that Tacolicious makes the epitome of a damn great taco – living up to the restaurant’s cheeky tagline, ‘Making Tacos Great Again.’ Now, co-owners Logan Brouse, Saira Shahzad and Thijs Oomens are at it again, this time expanding deeper into the world of quesadillas, burritos, nachos, ceviches and – no surprise here – more cocktails. 

The New Stuff 

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Shanghai’s first dabble in the wonderful world of Chicharron (RMB40) has finally begun. A fried pork skin snack, puffed up like crispy coated cotton balls, are tossed in a chorizo spice powder and drizzled with spicy aioli, pico de gallo, chipotle salsa and sour cream. 

Like everything else on the menu, every sauce, spice blend and protein is made in-house with the utmost care and attention to detail. Chef Thijs is all about authentic flavors, no cutting corners whatsoever. 

DSC07807.jpgOctopus Ceviche (RMB65) pickled beetroot, mango, avocado, shallots, cilantro, curry spices, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

When it comes to mains, your first and foremost option is – and always will be – Tacos (RMB60/vegetarian, RMB65/meat). From standard meat choices like Chicken or Steak Asado, Chili con Carne, Fried Fish, Birria (Mexican stew) and Shrimp to fusion favorites like Mapo Tofu, Szechuan Twice Cooked Pork, Beef Bulgogi and Sweet Heat Hot Fried Chicken to vegan selections like Beans & Corn or Z-Rou Chorizo, the decision is never an easy one. 

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Recently joining the lineup is the Al Pastor – spit-roasted pork, marinated for 24 hours in achiote paste, that’s finished on the flat top grill with a torch for extra char. The meat is then united with seasoned pineapple, chilis, salsa de aguacate and fresh onion in a double layered taco shell. 

With the release of the new menu, all taco fillings can now find their way onto quesadillas, burritos, nachos, loaded fries and taco bowls. 

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"Queso is in the name, which means cheese better be the dominating ingredient,” remarks chef Thijs. The Quesadilla (RMB65/vegetarian, RMB70/meat) is a temple dedicated to the glory of dairy, a cheese Mecca, with caramelized dribbles curling around the edges, protecting the gooey, oozing center, laced with jalapeños and your choice of protein. 

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Like the most structurally sound piece of equipment, the exact dimensions and wrapping technique of the Burrito (RMB70/vegetarian, RMB75/meat) falls in the center of a Venn Diagram that analyzes the relationship between a work of art and a work of science.

A hefty half kilo of Mexican fried rice, refried beans, cheese sauce, mozzarella, sour cream, pico de gallo and meat filling is combined together with surgical precision, before being grilled on the flat top into a dense brick of caloric mastery.  

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An overflowing plate of flash-fried masa tortilla chips form a monstrous mound of Nachos (RMB80/vegetarian, RMB85/meat) when topped with salsa, sour cream, jalapeños, refried beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, a generous drizzle of cheese sauce and melted mozzarella – because too much cheese is never a thing. 

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Dense Tres Leches (RMB50) cake is nearly drowned in a sticky sauce of condensed and evaporated milk, soaking the sweet liquid into every crevice like a dewy sponge. Thick cinnamon-spiced cream coats the top, becoming the dominating flavor so you subconsciously forget about the off-the-charts sugar intake you are currently consuming.

In addition to revamping the food menu, Tacolicious also recently stepped up their cocktail game in anticipation of spring. All cocktails are RMB65 regularly or RMB50 for happy hour – daily from 5-8pm. 

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Nothing screams summer day drinking like a fresh watermelon, especially when it's mixed with tequila, smoky mezcal and a gasp of fresh lime in the Sunburnt Senorita. The only thing missing now is, well, the sun. 

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For the frozen drink fiends, the new lineup of daiquiris includes Strawberry, Banana and Pineapple, or opt for a mango forward bevvie blended with Crimson Pangolin – the Mango Collins

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An everyday Mojito gets a facelift with a Campari topper, an excellent way to take the edge off that extra sweetness, but the true star on the menu comes in the form of a Mexican Coffee; tequila has never met a better match than Kahlua, agave, coffee and homemade cinnamon-spiced horchata whipped cream.

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Count this tri-layered libation as your daily caffeine fix – just with a little something-something to take the edge off the afternoon (we definitely won’t judge), or sip on it after hours to fuel your night, keeping you going until the wee hours of the morn.

Deals! Deals! Deals! 

If it’s a day of the week ending in ‘y’ then Tacolicious is offering some sort of deal. More often than not, there’s also a special on the menu to keep it interesting for the regulars. Monday to Friday also sees a lunch offer from 11am-2pm – any two tacos plus soup or rice pudding for just RMB80, and you can add on RMB15 for a coffee or soft drink. 

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Kickstart a week with all day happy hour on Mondays, plus RMB40 taco sets from 5-9pm. Tuesday is all about chef Thijs’ taco specials, with far out flavors like creamy clam and mussels, marinated lamb with spicy almond purée, Penang beef ribeye curry and Lebanese marinated pork. Crush a taco set plus a selected cocktail for just RMB95.

RMB88 gets you loaded fries plus any two beers on Wednesdays, or RMB118 for any two selected cocktails if you plan to drink your dinner. Jump on the wine bandwagon on Thursdays with RMB30 red wine or mulled wine, and get your Friday groove going every evening with DJ Baksheesh from 8.30-11.30pm. 

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Saturday brings back happy hour from 12-3pm, and wrap up the week right with Tacolicious’ Sunday Brunch deal every week for just RMB150 with free flow margaritas, Mexican mules and beers from 12-3pm. Add on any of the a la carte taco selections for just RMB40/two. There’s Bacon and Omelette, Smoked Salmon & Chipotle Cream Cheese, Chicken Asado, BBQ Pulled Pork and Beans, Corn & Cheese. Tacolicious also sports movie nights, trivia nights, weekly burger specials, seasonal parties and private events. 

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Three years ago, Brouse, Shaza and Oomens couldn’t find a decent taco in Shanghai. We’re not talking about high-end Mexican for a date night where guacamole is mashed tableside in front of you, nor are we hating on other Shanghai-based Mexican restaurants; the free-flow margaritas at Mayita brunch are a rite of passage for Shanghai expats.

Rather, we’re talking down and dirty, salsa dripping down your chin, meat falling out the sides, melty cheese oozing onto your fingers tacos – all while the bass is bumping and tequila shots are flowing. 

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Since then, they’ve constructed an empire to all things Mexican comfort food in one of the most engaging and downright fun atmospheres you can hope for in a city of 25 million. 

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Scan the QR code below to follow the Tacolicious Official WeChat and stay up to date with all the latest happenings. 

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See a listing for Tacolicious.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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