Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop—A Taqueria Champion
There’s only one taco shop where you can gobble up heavy shrimp-filled tacos while watching reruns of 1980’s Mexican wrestling matches, and all for a reasonable price of $8! Welcome to Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop, a small San Diego hot spot set on a path for complete taco domination.
The restaurant opened in 2008 as a side project between three brothers Jose Luis, Maurilio and Diego Rojano-Garcia. Departing from typical taqueria ambiance of sombreros and mariachi music, the brothers opted for a vibrant and colorful theme. “Lucha libre” literally translates to “free style wrestling” in Spanish, and refers to the Mexican art form of wrestling. “Anyone growing up in Mexico remembers the wrestlers on TV,” owner Jose explains. “We wanted to share this with San Diego.”
With wrestling masks crammed haphazardly along the brightly painted walls and pink zebra-printed chairs, the fun restaurant rapidly gathered a neighborhood fan base. “We had this crazy idea that quickly turned into something big,” Jose said. Big enough to land a national TV segment on Man vs. Food in 2010 and to remain a tourist destination ever since.
“Our future plan is to take over the world one taco shop at a time,” says Jose. The brothers are opening Lucha 2 by the end of 2012 and hope to expand into Los Angeles in the near future.
While recently visiting my sister in San Diego, we ventured to this popular destination for an early 11 a.m. lunch. Already the line was outside the door. Having forgotten the taste of an excellent fish taco, I ordered both the Undefeatable Seafood Taco with grilled shrimp (pictured above) along with its fresher counterpart the Flaco Taco containing grilled blackened Mahi Mahi (pictured below). Both were cooked perfectly and flavored with just the right amount of spice. Scrumptious!
But what makes Lucha Libre a unique destination? The shop lives up to their gourmet name by offering high quality ingredients, which means marinating, grilling and chopping their carne asada by hand. Let’s not forget the Surfin’ California burrito—stuffed with grilled steak, shrimp and French fries—which remains the most popular menu item. Top it off with the “special green sauce” which locals swear is pure gastronomical genius!
“Oh, the cilantro sauce? I give credit to my mom,” said Jose. He proceeds to tell the full story. “It was one day before opening and I had eight spots for salsa on the condiments booth, but only seven salsas. I did not know what to do and my mom said, “Remember that salsa your aunt made in Mexico?” She made it and we put it out in desperation. I think she added a bit of nicotine because it’s kind-of addictive! It was one of those accidents that worked out.”
The next time you’re in San Diego, make sure to stop by Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop. Even better, call 24 hours in advance to reserve seating in the ringed-in champion booth. “It is full service and you can drink out of real goblets,” says Jose. “We already have people making reservations for next year.”
Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop
1810 W. Washington Street
San Diego, CA 92110