Sunday, February 03, 2008
Finally - on to la Lucha Libre! I was getting sick of looking at that counter, and I'm sure you were too.
When I first heard about this place on Chowhound from the ever adventurous Alex, aka Kare Raisu, it sounded like it would be worth checking out just for the interior alone. In fact it is, and the food isn't bad either - though on my visit I got the feeling they were still working out some opening kinks. The menu board wasn't up on the wall yet, and the paper menus had a few items crossed out.
Still, it's apparent that they are using better quality meats and produce in their tacos than most shops around town, and the salsas were a distinct cut above the usual varieties, though not as varied or sophisticated in flavor as Mama Testa's. They have two red varieties - a hot and a medium, and a creamy green cilantro sauce. All are delicious - but I especially liked the flavor of the milder red. They also offer the elusive Mexi Dog - a hot dog wrapped in bacon and served with grilled vegetables ($1.50) I've often wondered why this isn't more common in San Diego given it's popularity with borracho gabachos across the border - for anyone else who's been wondering - here it is!
Since I was on my way home, I called James to see if he wanted me to bring him something. I chose a hot dog for him and some tacos for us to share, and took the food home. I couldn't resist the crispy queso taco - a disk of crisp, greasy melted cheese, topped with steak, chipotle crema and avocado slices. I also ordered a "tap out" - grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, cheese and poblano sauce, and a pollo asado taco. The tacos are larger than street size, similar to El Zarapes. The food is in a somewhat similar category with Zarape and Mama Testa, though Zarape has a wider selection and Mama Testa is a little more authentic and elaborate. I think Zarape used to be better than it is now though. You can view the menu online here.
In response to a post I put up on Chowhound, a few people have commented that they thought the tacos were bland and that the tortillas aren't very good. I didn't really get the blandness, maybe the meat could have been marinated a bit more - but the fresh high quality ingredients made up for that in my mind. Having sampled some fresh made tortillas this weekend at the Imperial Ave. Farmers' Market building, I think I understand what they're talking about there, but the tortillas Lucha Libre uses are pretty much par for the course, so it's hard to fault them too much. In fact, until yesterday I honestly thought I didn't like corn tortillas much, but now I think that was because they weren't very good ones!
I didn't have my camera with me that day, so I didn't get any good pictures of the food, but check out Darlene's post for some mouthwatering photos of the queso taco and the hot dog. I did snap a few photos of the interior with the iPhone. It's a veritable art installation - whimsical to the Nth degree - with the chandeliers, the Champion's booth (which can be reserved for more formal table service!) and dioramas and depictions of Lucha Libre wrestling on the walls. I especially loved the Anchorman trashcan. (If you're looking for some mouthwatering photos of Mexican food, check out my photosfrom the Chowdown at the Imperial Farmers Market yesterday - more to come on that soon!)
Lucha Libre is at the foot of Washington, in the Mission Hills area - convenient to the 5 Freeway. Where Valentine's used to be, right next to Bar Dynamite. It would be a great stop on the way to a show or event downtown - or a perfect pit stop before Gelato at Gelato Vero, or some pints at Shakespeares.
1810 Washington St.
at the foot of Washington near India
Open 10:30 to 11 PM Sun - Thurs,
10:30 - 2:30 AM on Fri and Sat.
Recommended: the "tap out" taco, crispy queso (if you don't mind a little grease!) Reports are mixed on the rolled tacos and nachos, so maybe stick with the soft tacos - at least for now.
Posted by Alice Q. Foodie on Sunday, February 03, 2008