When the folks behind popular Mexican restaurants Super Loco and Lucha Loco open a new fast casual joint, you best believe it’s gonna be a good one. Enter Chico Loco, the newest concept under The Loco Group, nestling nicely in its industrial chic perch on Amoy Street with lush foliage (and even a glittering disco ball) clustered near the skylight.
But unlike its sister establishments, the open kitchen of this CBD eatery dishes out what it calls “dirty healthy” plates, with quality meats done in comfort food style, not leaving out the smoke or the sizzle. Essentially, it’s picky about its ingredients and tries its darndest not to compromise on taste, staying away from MSG in favor of sauces and dressings made with avocado oil, and seasoning dosed with aged Himalayan salt. So no, you won’t find bland salads or overcooked protein to complement your diet here.
Take the chicken, for example. The spit-roasted chook is Chico Loco’s main star, and its free-range, organic-fed meat is free of antibiotics and hormones. Each bird is brined for 10 hours, in a secret blend that’s got a splash of agave nectar, then basted with herbs and spices like dried oregano, mustard powder, and achiote, and cooked over flames for an hour.
You can order it in quarter ($9), half ($17), or whole ($32) serving sizes, and dip each juicy chunk in house-made sauces ($2 each) such as smoky chipotle BBQ, chimichurri yogurt, or habanero and mango. Pair the protein with sides like rotisserie fat rice and tomatillo ($4, if you’re going the not-so-healthy route), corn on the cob with chipotle mayo ($6), guacamole ($5), or a zesty Thai-inspired slaw made of cabbage, mango, macadamia, mint, chili, green papaya, and lemongrass ($6).
As an alternative, the equally tender and smoky dry rubbed lamb shoulder ($12/125g or $23/250g) works just as well when you’ve got a hankering for red meat.
If you’re tired of trying to eat clean but failing terribly whenever you see those wilted greens at grab-and-go spots, try the weekly salad specials ($13), which you can get with pulled chicken or lamb ($7/$8) as add-ons. Another meatless mainstay, the Mexican Mixta ($11) is a tossed mix of romaine lettuce, cucumber, pickled onion, avocado, cherry tomato, sweet corn, crunchy tortilla bits, and ranch dressing.
For a heartier meal, munch your way through a lamb burrito ($16) with chimichurri yogurt, cheese, pickled jalapenos, rice, beans, and quinoa, or something called the Huge Chicken Taco ($14), which stuffs a 10-inch flour tortilla with pulled chicken, chipotle mayo, guac, and coriander.
Even dessert is relatively guilt-free, and the refreshingly good Super Natural Coconut Soft Serve ($6) doesn’t leave you in a bleary food coma afterwards. You can top it up ($1) with your choice of salted butterscotch and activated pepitas, pineapple and agave, or raspberry with anise and dark chocolate.
Besides lunch, the place also serves breakfast items like chicken and egg sanga ($12) and avocado toast ($15) from 8am to 11am, plus bar snacks such as nacho fries ($13) and chipotle chicken croquettes ($7) that you can wash down with craft beers, organic wines, and “eco-friendly spirits” after 4pm.
Affordably-priced and fuss-free, Chico Loco is an easy go-to for those working in the area who want to splurge a little, but within reason.
Chico Loco is at 102 Amoy St.
9738-7828 (Whatsapp only). Mon-Thurs 8am-10pm, Fri 8am-midnight, Sat 5pm-midnight.
MRT: Telok Ayer/Chinatown/Tanjong Pagar