Lucha Libre, Wood Street *****

luch libreLucha Libre is a fairly new enterprise in the heart of Liverpool’s infamous Ropewalks district. Advertising itself as a purveyor of affordable and authentic Mexican street food, Lucha Libre does not disappoint!

I had heard a lot about this restaurant prior to visiting  myself, and couldn’t wait to finally discover what Mexican street food was like. I have experienced eating a lot of Mexican food in various restaurants around Liverpool, and have always immensely enjoyed the heat of the dishes on the menu – but have never before tried authentic street food.

Walking in to Lucha Libre, we entered a rustic and retro bar/restaurant area on multiple levels that managed to be cosy and cool at once. The place has an incredibly chilled-out vibe, largely due to the excellent music (from South American-inspired instrumentals to the Rolling Stones) and the vintage movie poster decor, featuring Mexican wrestlers and famous billboards with a southern-fried twist. The tables are set out over 2 floors and a hidden mezzanine presumably for larger parties, and the whole place feel really welcoming.

Once seated, we opened the menu to discover the laid back style continued over to the food: punters can choose from a selection of Nibbles and Small Plates to start, followed by a large range of Street Food and Large Plates for the main course. The best option though is definitely the menu of sharing platters, which promise more than enough food for two, and are incredibly reasonably priced.

As Veggies, we went for the Beggie Street Food Tray at £14.50, and discovered that ‘Beggie’ is actually an in-joke at the restaurant, as the Mexican head chef can’t pronounce his V’s! Little personal touches like this really come across in the whole experience of Lucha Libre, which feels warm and friendly. The price of the platter included 2 sides, and we also ordered a couple of extras, not realising just how much food we would be presented with.

Our waiter asked if we’d prefer our Guacamole with our beers to start, and we willingly obliged, not aware that the dip came with some baked tortilla chips. The chips were quite plain and tough, but with the creamy and fresh guacamole and some hot pepper sauce from the table, these went down an absolute treat, and only cost £3 for a portion big enough for two.

Service was quick, without feeling rushed, and our main course appeared soon after we’d polished off the starter. We tucked into the platter, starting with the 3 Beggie Tacos, which were small open tortillas, topped with grilled halloumi, minted guacamole and chunky pineapple and chilli salsa. These were delicious, and achieved a brilliant balance between sweet and spicy, with the cheese cooked to perfection.

Next we tried the Beggie empanadas, which took us both by surprise: these looked like a Mexican version of a pasty, and were filled with butternut squash, guajillo chilli, rosemary and goats cheese. These had a mild heat to them, which was a lovely contrast to the previous dishes and also an interesting twist on a British savoury favourite. We then had the Maria Sabina Quesadilla, which was a toasted tortilla sandwich, filled with pan fried portobello mushrooms in chilli butter with fresh spinach and melted cheddar and mozarella cheese. These were really tasty and were brilliantly complemented by the hot pepper sauce too, which added a bit of South American kick to the already excellent dish.

Along with the hot bites came two portions of lovely cool salad; Beggie Toastadas. These were crispy fried tortillas with savoy cabbage, mixed peppers, carrots, parsnips and a garnish of green salsa and avocado – and looked and tasted amazing. Bright and colourful on the plate, the salad had a delicate dressing and felt like a light and healthy addition to the meal, which was a lovely surprise.

Our sides were wonderful too, yet we barely had room after the gargantuan portions on the platter. We had a portion of Red Rice at £2 and a portion of Patatas del Pobre for £2.50 and both were excellent. The potatoes were my favourite: blackened in the oven and accompanied by red and yellow peppers and baked onions, these tasted delicious and went really well with the Sour Cream (£1).

We stayed in the restaurant a while longer, digesting our meals and listening to the brilliant soundtrack playing in the background. We toyed with the idea of desert (Mexican Pancakes, or Baked Pineapple, both £4.50) but decided to ask for the bill. The total, including 2 bottles of San Miguel came to a very affordable £27 – incredible for a two course meal, with drinks for two people, and not a price you find very often.

A brilliant haunt for a casual dinner, or even a great start to a big night with the nibbles and sharers on offer, Lucha Libre delivers delectable dishes at totally affordable prices, and in my opinion, is definitely Liverpool’s top Mexican restaurant.

96 Wood Street, Liverpool, UK L1 4DQ, +44 797903466 ‎

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About teafortwotalk

Freelance writer @Pickwickmag @Corridor8 @Biennial / Editor @artinliverpool. Available for writing and copyediting.
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