For delicious tacos with a side of Mexican wrestling, hit La Lucha. This popular East Village restaurant is something of a temple to lucha libre, with photos, masks, and all manner of wrestling kitsch. Of course, none of that wouldn’t be worth a peso if it didn’t also have tasty and authentic Mexican food. Fortunately, it does, making La Lucha an excellent spot for a quirky and satisfying outing with friends.
Plastic luchador action figures and other wrestling knicknacks festoon the walls of this small restaurant just off Tompkins Square Park. Brilliantly colored luchador masks are proudly on display, and a projector plays old wrestling films, silently, against one of the walls. This gleeful homage to Mexico’s distinctive style of wrestling is mighty distracting to your group, but the smell of sizzling meat and fresh cilantro brings you back to your purpose.
In a city with many great tacos, La Lucha’s are of a notably upscale variety: warm tortillas full of spiced meats and bathed in lip-smacking sauces. Grab seats within view of the projector screen — might as well catch the show — and go through the menu, where every dish has a lucha-themed name. Start with La Hurracarana, a flavorful dish of crispy fried cheese rolls, and then move on to the Gori Guerrerro, a pork taco named for one of Mexico’s earliest wrestling pros and the patriarch of an entire family of luchadors.
Other members of your group should try out the Mano Negra taco, with savory mushrooms and fresh cheese, or the Ciclón Ramirez, which coats tender chicken with a smokey, flavorful chipotle sauce. There’s no alcohol on the menu, but you won’t miss it when you enjoy a round of jamaica (hibiscus) waters. Its lightly sweet flavor plays off the spiciness of the tacos, putting out the fire and prepping you for another bite.
The bright surroundings and unabashed love of all things lucha are a lively backdrop to the chatter at your table — it feels like you’re at an event, instead of just a restaurant. You were going to skip dessert, but a tres leches cake sounds too good to pass up. Besides, you’re still watching that match on the projector screen. You kind of want to see how it ends.