East Village Mexican: La Lucha joins authentic Mexico City street food with Lucha Libre

Date November 30, 2009

If you love traveling to New York and want to get a little more out of it, take Carlos Beraza’s lead and open a restaurant.  That’s what the Mexico City native did, along with two friends, when they opened La Lucha two weeks ago on Avenue A between 9th and 10th Street.  Their business card says “La Lucha – Sacalo Del Ring,” which loosely translates to “taking the fight out of the ring,” and that’s just what they accomplish.  La Lucha offers New Yorkers a real taste of downtown Mexico City, specifically the no frills taquerias where Mexicans excitedly eat and drink prior to attending Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) matches.  And it’s more than just kitsch, because aside from a strict no burrito policy, and a menu named after famed luchadores and Lucha Libre moves, La Lucha is also a boutique for everything Lucha LibreI had the pleasure of experiencing this unique marriage of pop culture and street food the night they opened, and after a tiny taste, I can’t wait to get back…

La Lucha Collage NYCFoodGuy.com

We started with a set of three tacos named after famed luchadore (fighter) Mil Mascaras ($12.00). Tender chunks of flavorful grilled steak (or chicken) mixed with grilled onions, peppers, corn, a healthy amount of white cheese, and curled shreds of deliciously salty bacon.

NYC FOOD GUY 076 comp

Divide the filling among the three tortillas or just go at it with a fork, either way, you’re in for a treat.  These are some tasty tacos.  The molten cheese runs like a river through crags of juicy steak, caramelized onion and charred pepper offering a subtle heat balanced only by the bright cilantro.  Every few bites, a bacon explosion overtakes your taste buds and just as quickly melts away.

Mil Mascaras - NYCFoodGuy.com

Our second set of three tacos pay homage to El Santo ($12.00), arguably the most revered of all luchadores in the history of the sport.  In his memory, salted chunks of steak mingle with crumbled chorizo and some of the most delicate and delicious chicarones (fried pork skin) I’ve ever tasted. The crispy, hollow curls of pork skin shatter upon first bite before dissolving into salty, porky goodness and melding with the beef and spicy chorizo.  While these tacos filled my salty/savory/fatty quota, I may opt for something from the a la carte menu on my next visit.

El Santo - NYCFoodGuy.com

All tacos can be adorned with either a pasilla salsa (left) or salsa verde (right). The pasilla salsa took its smokey undertones from chipotle pepper mixed liberally with acidic tomatillo.  The heat of the serrano chile in the verde was overshadowed by a heavy dose of lime.  Neither truly enhanced our tacos.

Salsa - NYCFoodGuy.com

No meal is complete without dessert but if given the option, I’ll pass on the meager plate of slightly caramelized sweet plantains ($3.00) served with sour, watery crema and a puddle of viscous caramel.

Sweet Plantains - NYCFoodGuy.com

Unlike American wrestling where up-and-comers can hope to achieve Hulk Hogan’s stardom via reality shows and movies like “No Holds Barred,” and everyone’s favorite, “Mr. Nanny,” Lucha Libre is a serious part of Mexican pop culture.  El Santo, along with Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras, are not only three of the most celebrated luchadores in Mexican sports history, they’re also folk legends.  What better way to celebrate their names and Lucha Libre lore than by naming every menu item after a luchadore or Lucha Libre move?  Check out the menu (Click to enlarge).

La Lucha Menu - NYCFoodGuy.com

Your immersion in Lucha Libre continues even after you order.  Lucha Libre films play silently on a side wall while opposite, Lucha Libre mascaras (masks) and figurines loom overhead.

La Lucha - NYCFoodGuy.com

Upon completion of your meal, you’ll be presented with a handmade mascaras pouch containing your check and a handful of Canel’s Mexican chewing gum, all inside a mini Lucha ring.

Check Please - NYCFoodGuy.com

It all adds up to a festive atmosphere ideal for throwing back Coronas (it’s BYOB for now, wine and beer license coming soon) and digging into messy plates of tacos.  But if you want to take some of it home, look no further than La Lucha’s tiny boutique offering everything from Lucha Libre figures, key chains, pins, wallets, and some pretty badass t-shirts.

La Lucha Boutique - NYCFoodGuy.com

La Lucha

147 Avenue A b/t 9th & 10th Street
New York, NY 10009
Opening hours vary, call to confirm
Closes most nights between 1AM & 1:30AM
Currently BYOB but a wine & beer license is expected soon
La Lucha - NYCFoodGuy.com

10 Responses to “East Village Mexican: La Lucha joins authentic Mexico City street food with Lucha Libre”

  1. The Marchesa of Mustard said:

    FoodGuy, you seem to have tapped into a nascent trend of Lucha Libre-themed taquerias opening up in Manhattan. Next, check out Cascabel Taqueria on 80th & 2nd. I would say it attempts to capture the essence of Mexican street food, but not the authenticity (the dishes are fairly traditional, but they feature some unconventional flavor profiles and mostly healthy, organic ingredients, like quinoa instead of rice). Still, any place that serves elote asado is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

  2. Jason Chow said:

    Yo Buddy…. this looks good man but when are we going out to eat?

  3. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Great to hear from you as always and glad to see you’re on top of the ball (as usual). NYMag will feature an article this week reviewing Cascabel and La Lucha. From the sound of Cascabel, it doesn’t seem like it’s unhealthy enough for me!

    Jason Chow,
    Right on brother. Talk to Stinkus, let’s get it going!

  4. Anonymous said:

    Indeed, it seems the crack team at NYMag beat you to it!


    Still, despite the (arguable) health benefits of the fare at Cascabel, it’s worth a try, should you find yourself on the UES. I haven’t tried them, but the Berkshire pork and chorizo tacos sound pretty darn good.

    In your absence, I’ve been staying on top of things…let me know if you’re looking for recs of restaurants to review.

  5. The NYC Food Guy said:

    I’m assuming the “anonymous” is you?
    I’m always looking for new recommendations as long as they’re reasonably priced. You’ve heard about the new Sripraphai in Williston Park, correct? thanks for the Thai invite a few weeks back, btw. I would definitely be game to join you and the marchese for some Thai delicacies. We’ll have to go to a different place though, I’ve found a place that’s better than Sri. Smaller, more divey but much tastier and fresher food.

  6. Alberto Lama said:

    Hola Food guy! It was very nice to meet you at Cava Wine Bar.. I will definetely go and check this out. Love tacos! Perhaps you can come and rate one day our tapas at Cava one day 🙂 Hasta pronto amigo!!!

  7. The Marchesa of Mustard said:

    Ah, yes. “Anonymous” was I. The Marquis and I would be down for some divey but delicious Thai (probably after the holidays/New Year), if you’ve got a place that outshines Sripraphai. We always appreciate a good greasy spoon, from whatever part of the world its cuisine might hail.

  8. East Village Mexican: La Lucha Debuts New Brunch Menu Saturday | NYC Food Guy said:

    […] Related: NYC Food Guy’s review of La Lucha La Lucha 147 Avenue A b/t 9th & 10th Street New York, NY 10009 212-260-0235 Weekday hours vary, call to confirm Brunch Sat. & Sun. 11AM – 4PM Closes most nights between 1AM & 1:30AM Currently BYOB but a wine & beer license is expected soon […]

  9. Puebla, IWRG mask match on Thursday, France, restaurants « luchablog said:

    […] one (NYC Food Guy) but two (New York Mag) reviews of lucha themed restaurants in New York. Both of them – La […]

  10. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Alberto Llama,
    You tell me when you’re there and I’ll definitely come back up to try Cava’s tapas.

    Marchesa of Mustard,
    After the holidays sounds great.

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