I wasn’t sure where I was. It was somewhere between a scene in the movie Nacho Libre and a taco stand packed with plenty of my 50 closest friends. That’s about the best way to explain what it is like to step into the popular San Diego eatery known as Lucha Libre.
Lucha Libre for the uninitiated is the Mexican sub-culture of wrestling. It’s a mix of wrestling, theater, art, acrobatics, humor and braggadocio. The first time I ever saw it live was at an intersection in the middle of Oaxaca City. Really. I was walking towards the center of town when a truck stopped and started unloading tons of materials. In just a few short minutes a wrestling ring was assembled and shortly thereafter, the events started.
Before I knew it, bodies were flying everywhere. It’s the same atmosphere at the garishly pink walled Lucha Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, except it’s not bodies flying, it’s food. Many of their offerings are even served on customized frisbees. And while you can feel like a champion if you reserve the golden booth, here the food is the real champion.Lucha Libre has a huge following, as evidenced by the line outside by the time we left. I had first been clued into this place by a Las Vegas Starbuck’s barista when he saw one of my many Lucha Libre shirts. He urged me to try it out, convinced I was going to like it, and he was right.
Make no mistake, apart from the TJ Hot Dog and the Jarritos sodas, the food here is heavy on the gringo side. But it’s good and filling, the Classic California Burrito being a prime example. Served with your choice of pork adobado, carne asada or chicken, this thing is loaded with pico, sour cream, cheese and… french fries. I think it weighs in at about a pound.
The nachos, which I’ve never found south of the border, were loaded with meat, cheese and chips. If you are a nachos lover, these will please but if you want authenticity, go for the TJ Hot Dog. Wrapped in bacon and topped with mayo, ketchup, mustard and onions, this dog rivaled any I’ve had in TJ or Ensenada. One bite and I was getting that hot dog street cart feeling.
If you are drinking, skip the fountain made “Mexican” drinks like jamaica and horchata and go straight for a Jarritos soda or better yet, get one of their Cucapa craft beers from Mexicali. These will be sure to give you just a little more of that “real Mexico” experience.
Is this the real deal, comparable with food down south? Not a chance. Is it a great place to come, people watch and get a solid meal? You bet. I sat next to a young urban hipster guy from Philadelphia who had Ubered his way there and I asked him what he thought. He could not stop raving… “There’s nothing like this in Philly!”
There’s nothing like this place in My Mexico either, but that doesn’t mean I won’t return. Seriously, where else can I get a burrito loaded with fries, the perfect TJ style Hot Dog and wash it all down with an ice cold cerveza all for under 12 bucks?
Lucha Libre Taco Shop, 1810 W Washington Street, San Diego, 92110
Food for two, beer included… $25.00