As someone raised on a small island, the idea of a "day trip" is somewhat foreign; from my hometown, the longest I can drive is around 30 minutes to the farthest tip of the North Shore! As such, I appreciate that, in California, a few hours in the car can land you at a destination altogether different than where you started.
With its beautiful coastline, relaxed daytime vibe but happening nightlife and, of course, pandas, San Diego has become one of my favorite mini-vacations. My most recent trip, however, was not only koala-driven but also food-motivated.
Located a stone's throw from the 5 freeway in Mission Hills, Lucha Libre Taco Shop serves Mexican food with a touch of SoCal flavor and a whole lot of inspiration from Mexican wrestling. Although the shop has been a favorite in San Diego since it opened in 2008, it has recently been inundated with new customers after being featured on the Travel Channel's Man v. Food.
At least there is ample cheeky signage to keep you occupied while you're in line.
Upon finally entering the restaurant, I took one look around and was thrilled to be eating here. The flamboyant wall colors, rotating disco balls and floor-to-ceiling luchador memorabilia made for quite the inviting interior. I felt as pumped as a wrestler before he enters the ring, energized and ready to eat.
We began with an order of guacamole ($1.75), which was fresh and deliciously simple. The large chunks of avocado simply begged to be scooped up and devoured.
The first of J's two tacos was the Undefeated Seafood Taco (grilled shrimp [or blackened mahi mahi] topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, jack cheese and a creamy serano sauce, $3.69). The soft tortillas provided the perfect bed for the crunchy toppings and snappy shrimp, and each bite was a delightful mix of textures and flavors tied together by the cool, creamy sauce.
Next came the Surf n' Turf Taco (marinated steak, shrimp and avocado slices, topped with a special sauce, $3.49). The plentiful steak was tender and flavorful, and the avocado and special sauce added a pleasant creaminess to the dish.
I ordered the Surfin' California Burrito ($6.75), which received Adam Richmond's stamp of approval during his Man v. Food visit. After watching the episode and learning of the behemoth burrito stuffed with grilled steak, shrimp, fresh-cut french fries, cheese and chipotle sauce, my inner luchadora emerged, and I knew that the Surfin' California must be mine. Because each ingredient was fresh and delicious in its own right, the combination of them all was outstanding. From the snap of the shrimp to the softness of the fries to the creamy kick of the chipotle sauce, I loved everything about this burrito and, I'm proud to report that I polished it off by myself.
After this first trip to Lucha Libre Taco Shop that pleased both my stomach and my wallet, I believe I have a new staple San Diego restaurant.
Lucha Libre Taco Shop
1810 W. Washington St.
San Diego, CA 92103