La Lucha Tacos: Round Uno – Taste Match

Dear Food Diary:
Last Friday night was alphabet city’s new joint La Lucha Taco’s opening night. I use to watch Mucha Lucha every saturday morning, so the name brought an immediate smile and more importantly the possibility of finding the perfect taco place in nyc.
By the time we arrived around 7:30pm, there was a long line, apparently I wasn’t the only one excited about getting a real Mexican street food experience. We placed our name at the door with friendly co-owner Carlos, who opened this with his best friend. Their idea is to transport us to the Mexico they know and stopping by a Taqueria for a bite before entering the Arena for Lucha Libre. Hence the decor and name.
About 35 minutes later, we finally got a table. Carlos who resides in Mexico and the rest of the staff were very apologetic about the wait, but there really wasn’t much they could do, it was a”happening” opening night, and the place only had 5-6 tables.
Videos of Lucha Libre projected across a whole wall, while the opposite side is decorated with colorful masks. The bathroom door had luchadores and the inside looked like a 16 year old’s bedroom, posters, photos, basically everything Lucha Libre, plastered in every inch visible. My suggestion is a mask for everyone working there, would be so much fun, might be too hot for them and hard to breath? But think about how fun it would be for all of us! LOL.

If this is not a theme restaurant I don’t know what is. I was entertained by the great design and language on the menu, playing off everything Lucha Libre. Very well thought out, and amusing. I cracked up at the line We Proudly Don’t Serve Burritos”, I’ve never had an appetite for them anyways, and was glad they agreed .

The kitchen turned out the food quite fast considering this was their first night.
We started the taste match off with Las Chabelas (Cebollitas), grilled onions with lime and a soy sauceish drizzle on top. I’ve only seen Anthony Bourdain eat something similar in an episode about Spain or somewhere in South America. Even though I can’t remember the exact location, I do vividly drool over the fact that all they had were these grilled onions, but they seemed overly satisfied and joyful. After a first bite, I understood. It has this really nice oniony flavor, a little chard and tender. The sauce gives it a wow factor, with a savory, sweet soy plus a nice fresh twist from fresh limes, it’s addicting and I would go back for this. Therefore, PRIMERA CAIDA goes to Cebollitas!

Each table had 2 sauces, on the left end we have the Green tomatillo/jalepeno , very oniony with a nice balance of citrus and at the opposite end the Spicy Chipotle, really smokey with a hit of spicyness. The Spicy Chipotle takes this round.

We had high taspectations for the tacos. In the ring, are a trio of Brazo de Oro (Spicy Pork), Super Porky (Mexican pulled pork) and Ciclon Ramirez (chicken cooked in a chipotle tomato sauce). My Super Porky was quite moist, but I used a spoonful of chipotle sauce to give it more flavor. The Brazo de Oro had a nice spice to it, but it wasn’t as moist, and the chicken was ok. All 3 were aight, but no knock-out here, NO clear winner this round.
EL SANTO, tree tacos for $12 was the CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER! Carlos, the owner highly recommended. He’s spot on, I loved every component, the crunchy pieces of chicharron, the spicy chorizo and the salted steak, with chopped unions and a sprinkle of cilantro. It smelled soo good I couldn’t wait to dig in (but I had to take pics and share, arghhhh I’m working on patience). Enjoyed all the flavors together with the corn tortilla. Would go back again for this.

La cuenta (the check) comes in a mini Lucha Ring, how creative and adorable is that!? An applause for all the little details! I dig it, I dig it.
Plus you get these tiny little assorted gum, sort of like individual Chiclets. Very fun way to end! Another Winner.
Would of loved to try TERCERA CAIDA (THIRD ROUND) – DESSERT, but they didn’t have any Tres Leches Cake or Paleta (ice pop) left. Sad, but a good reason go back.
Not everything was a winner in the Tasting Championship, but the Las Chabelas (Cebollitas) and El Santo and the fun ambianceare enough reason to return to the Arena for another match very very pronto.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING: chubby rating 3.5
147 Ave A (between 9 and 10th)

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