WHAT: El Luchador Mexican Kitchen + Cantina
IT’S: A modern, but casual Mexican restaurant and bar with a lucha libre theme.
OPENED: Jan. 11, 2021
WHO’S BEHIND IT: Proprietor Andy Hooper and Executive Chef Aaron Bryan.
FUN FACT: Bryan was hired on the spot after preparing his three-meat chimichanga, which is now one of the signature dishes at El Luchador.
LOCATION: 7825 Blue Diamond Road
HOURS: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and Happy Hour 4:30-6:15 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays
Why We Love It
El Luchador takes the traditional Mexican food you already love, gives it a fresh, modern spin and serves it up in a stylish, but comfortable setting. The name of the restaurant is taken from lucha libre (Mexican pro wrestling), and the theme is felt throughout the menu and dining room. The place is already a busy spot and feels like an authentic neighborhood hangout the Mountain’s Edge community can call its own.
Five Things You Gotta Try
Guacamole is prepared tableside. Want another squirt of lime? Extra garlic? Skip the tomatoes? The choice is yours for guacamole on the spot with fresh, ripe avocados.
Larger groups may prefer the queso con carne, a sweet, creamy blend of white cheeses with crumbles of chorizo and tortillas on the side.
The tacos come three to an order and like most other main entrees arrive at the table with pinto beans and rice in mini mason jars, which add a contemporary touch to the presentation. Top taco ingredients include traditional adobe beef or grilled chunks of mahi mahi.
The Triple Threat Chimichanga is named in honor of the three meats in the filling: beef, chicken and pork. Stick with one or request all three. Either way, it adds up to a flavorful bite wrapped up in a fried tortilla. When asked for a preference of sauces, just say “all three.”
The fajitas are available in steak, chicken or shrimp. The latter works especially well, perfectly seasoned to complement the sizzle of red and green peppers.
Great! What About the drinks?
El Luchador is all about agave spirits. The restaurant has more than 80 varieties of tequila and mezcal behind the bar. Order one served neat or as part of a cocktail. The Madre Caliente mixes the smoky taste of mezcal with spicy mango, while the house margarita allows the natural flavor of the tequila to shine without being overly tart.
A Little More About the Atmosphere
A large, square-shaped bar is the centerpiece of the dining room, which almost makes El Luchador feel more like a spacious lounge than a restaurant. The vibe matches the casual nature of the food, yet dinner will still feel like a special occasion. The decor has an industrial edge and a playful side, especially the rows of lucha libre masks that light up the main wall—and reflect against the windows for a cool glowing effect. There are enough televisions to keep sports fans happy, and the outdoor patio is destined to be a hotspot when the weather warms up.
Starters are $6 to $12, tacos are $10 to $16 (with three to an order), and other main entrees are $10 to $23. Beer is $5 to $10, wine glasses are $8 to $9, wine bottles are $32 to $50, cocktails are $10 to $13 and 1.5-ounce servings of tequila or mezcal are $9 to $22. Happy Hour has $2 tacos, $4 draft beer, $5 wine, $6 well drinks and $8 margaritas.
El Luchador manages to be a new kind of Mexican restaurant without reinventing the wheel. It has a great energy, but the quality of food seals the deal. You can tell Chef Bryan is using the best ingredients and being smart about his recipes—balancing a fine line between tradition and ingenuity. Prices are more than fair, so make a point to check it out whether dining in or placing an order to go.