Fearsome in their colorful masks, the wrestlers of Mexico are depicted in photographs, posters and paintings all over Lucharitos, a newly expanded Mexican eatery. Included in the gallery of luchadors are such American wrestling greats as Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. The art is fascinating, even to those who aren't fans of the sport. Even more compelling, though, is the food. Which, for the most part, is in fighting form.
One lunch begins with a rich, subtly spicy bowl of chicken tortilla soup topped with chopped tomatoes, cilantro and crunchy strips of fried tortillas. A crisp-crusted pork and piña (pineapple) empanada has just the slightest undercurrent of sweetness. Accompanying nachos, at dinner one night, is a trio of dips -- lush cheese sauce, cilantro-flecked guacamole and salsa fresca with a nuanced layering of flavors. Also ideal for sharing are cheese quesadillas, which ooze appropriately.
Wrestle a big appetite to the ground with the Superfly Snuka platter, named for a legendary Fiji-born wrestler. It features BBQ roast pork topped with a spicy-sweet pineapple salsa, plus rice and beans. A Cuban torta (sandwich) with roast pork, ham, Swiss, house-made pickles and spicy mustard comes together well, even if it's unconventionally served on grilled pita. Less successful, though, is a torta featuring chorizo and dry pieces of white meat chicken sandwiched inside thick French bread.
But, oh, those tacos. They're best ordered traditional style, in soft corn tortillas topped with salsa verde, pickled radish, chopped onion and cilantro. A taco special, one day, features succulent strips of grilled catfish. From the menu, there's grilled shrimp, plump and smoky. And vegetarians will rejoice in the smoky, meaty mushroom tacos featuring spiced sauteed shiitake, portobello and button varieties.
Still, there are some frustration points. Service, while well-meaning, can be inefficient. And not everything on the menu is always available. One night, there are no dessert empanadas. But sopaipillas -- fried flour tortillas coated with cinnamon and topped with ice cream -- fill in nicely.
At the height of dinner hour, there's often a cluster of people outside the place, waiting to hear that their tables are ready. Credit such popularity to the lively fare, festive surroundings and low tabs. And, as an occasional bonus, free wrestling masks for kids.