Feliz Cinco de Mayo, mis queridos lectores!*
Yeah, it’s the 5th of May today, so what an apt day to write my blog about Lucha Libre, a Mexican street food restaurant in Manchester. Cinco de Mayo is a regional Mexican holiday which commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862. If you want to know more about it, see this link here: http://www.mexonline.com/cinco-de-mayo.htm
Now, I’ve mentioned before that I am a member of the team behind GNUF – A Grand Northern Ukulele Festival, and if I haven’t, well, now I have. Tickets are currently on sale, and if you want to see The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain in one of the most impressive town halls I have ever seen, you should book tickets now. Sorry about the blatant plug, but yeah, I help out with that festival, and my friend Mary, is the brains behind it all, pushing it forward and helping making it awesome. She also works way too hard, and as such decided to take last week off from work and the festival and enjoy some time with friends, so we decided on a day out to Manchester!
Mary grew up in California, very close to Mexico, and has eaten Mexican food for years now, so I suggested we went to Lucha Libre, as I had heard good things and that they tried to do Mexican food as authentically as possible.
After a mooch around a couple of shops to look at ukuleles, bikes and odds and bods, we found ourselves outside The Great Northern Warehouse, which is also home to over inflated ego burger flippers, Almost Famous, and Yorkshireman in a flash car, James Martin’s swanky place in the city.
We went in and were seated immediately, but had to move as the table was directly below a speaker, and we struggled to hear each other, but this wasn’t a problem, we were moved to a quieter area of the restaurant, and I got to take in the posters on the wall whilst Mary looked through the menu.
Mary ordered a load of food for us, and drinks. We had Mexican pop, Grapefruit Jarritos, which to many people may be quite sugary, but I have a very sweet tooth so I was more than okay with this, plus, it was bloody refreshing.
Also, you can’t come to Lucha Libre and not sample one or two of their extensive selection of Tequilas and Mezcals. Owing to a bad experience of drinking a tiny bit too much when Mary was younger, tequila was out of the question (I had a similar experience with Bells whiskey, myself), but mezcal was definitely happening! We had two different mezcals, I don’t remember which was which, but the first one a lovely smokey almost whiskey peaty mezcal, and the second was thinner and smoother. Gorgeous, sipped with a red or green sangrita.
Food soon began to arrive, first we had some homemade tortilla chips and guacamole. We were given the option of adding bacon jam to the guac, but I don’t see how that would improve what was already divine guacamole, and lovely fresh crunchy chips. It was hard to not absolutely smother the chips with the guacamole.
The real star of the show at Lucha Libre is the tacos, the staff even wear “I ❤ Taco” t-shirts! We had three different trios of tacos, all served on soft corn tortillas. We had the fish tacos, something I’ve only ever heard about on American TV, why everywhere isn’t serving them, I don’t know. Properly soft flaky fish in a light crisp batter, on top of a caper aioli with radish and cabbage topping it. Really light, not something you would expect from battered fish.
My least favourite, though that isn’t to say it wasn’t delicious, were the “steak” tacos, which were beef brisket, slow cooked with guajillo chilli, and garnished with radish and cabbage. Whilst they were delicious, I feel it’s a bit disingenuous to call it a steak taco, as brisket is a joint of beef, not a steak. Just call it a shredded beef taco, and we’ll be okay at that. The only other thing I didn’t like about it, is what I liked about it. Yeah, wrap your head around it. I liked it because the meat was so fucking moist, and I also disliked it because the meat was so fucking moist, that when I bit into it, the juices ran down my hand to my elbow and all over my plate. That was just a bit annoying, but it made it taste so bloody good!
My favourite of the tacos was without a doubt the Al Pastor tacos, 24 hour marinated pork belly, in cola (yes! cola! the fizzy pop!), achiote, & citrus juices, served with apple salsa, fresh coriander and red onion. These were divine! The pork was soft and tender, and the cola added a slight unusual flavour to it, that I loved. I bagsied a second one of these because I loved it so much!
We also shared a ceviche cocktail, fresh white market fish, cured in lime juice and served in a sundae glass mixed through with what is essentially, pico de gallo. This was nice and fresh after all the tacos, and you could really taste the lime juice in it. It was pretty heavy on the pico de gallo, and the fatty in me would have liked more fish, but I understand restaurants have overheads and can’t give me all of the fish.
After this, we were feeling pretty full, but pudding was calling out to us. How could we say no to freshly made churros with a warm chocolate dipping sauce. These were crispy on the outside and crunchy on the outside, with just the right amount of cinnamon sugar coating it, unlike the cinnamon challenge churros Sara and I had at Duk Bodega. It was a bit of a struggle to finish these off as we were so full, but I was up to the challenge, and I took one for the team. Ahem. That’s my excuse, and I am sticking to it.
After this we paid up, and I paid a quick visit to the gents, where for the first time in my life, I took a picture inside the toilets. I couldn’t help myself, I just loved the lampshades in the cubicles. I want one of these for my room!
I love how Lucha Libre is decorated, with awesome Mexican film poster art. El Vampiro Y El Sexo sounds amazing!
And who could resist a film that features vampires and lucha libre wrasslers!?!
Why can’t I speak Spanish? I’d love to see these films!
I loved Lucha Libre, and I can’t wait to go back to Manchester so I can eat more of their tacos, especially the Al Pastor ones. Even for dinner tonight, I did pork cooked in cola, it was more of a Tex-Mex style affair, but still, they influenced me to do that.
Muchas gracias por la comida y la bebida sabrosa, Lucha Libre!*
*All Spanish comes direct from Google Translate, if anybody fluent in Spanish reads this and feels like telling me it’s wrong, go tell Google