Livin' La Vida Lucha
Along the leafy Paul-Lincke-Ufer, you can find La Lucha either by following the directive of its cheeky board signs (“Why are you walking outside when a taco could be inside of you?”) or being lured inside by the scent of delicious fried foods. The restaurant has been on my list to check out since it opened in 2017 (...I know, I know, time flies, y’all) and we decided it was finally time to visit a couple of Fridays ago. Mellow from the warm sun and cheerful with payday dough in our pockets, we had a little wander along the Landwehrkanal before heading in for our reservation (probably a good idea to plan ahead on busy nights, as the line for tables stretched out along the sidewalk).
Berlin is sadly lacking in high-quality Mexican food, which is a shame considering the general diversity of internationally-focused restaurants in the city. For this reason, we usually give a side-eye to places claiming to be Mexican (out of necessity and frequent cravings, I’ve developed an excellent salsa recipe of my own, due to a serious void of options in the markets here). However, La Lucha lived up to the hype with good levels of heat and a wonderful variety of options. We went a bit overboard, but between five plates of tacos, a quesadilla with ricotta/gouda/figs/parmesan crisp, and a plate of crispy fried chrysanthemum blossoms in a tomato & cinnamon salsa...we left feeling satisfied. Other tables indulged in massive bowls of guacamole, lamb shank on the bone, and plates of whole sea bream; the menu certainly has enough choices for even the pickiest diner.
Food aside (something you will rarely hear from me), come to La Lucha for the drinks menu. We opted for the tequila terroir flight, containing measures of Corralejo Blanco, Calle 23 Blanco and Fortaleza Blanco. This flight was designed to travel through the Mexican landscape, from the lightly spicy notes of Corralejo to reflect Guanajuato (central Mexico) to the brighter, fruitier Calle 23 using agave from the Jaliscan Highlands and finally to the richly earthy Fortaleza from the city of Tequila in Jalisco. The flight was served with a glass of sangrita, a tomato juice-based beverage including citrus and spices (don’t confuse it with sangria, the Spanish red wine-based beverage - very different concepts!). Since it was our first time at La Lucha, we decided to order a pitcher of their classic margaritas to go with our meal. While delicious, it was heavy on the ice and light on the alcohol, which was fine given how warm the evening was. If we hadn’t also had the tequila flight, we would have ordered a few of the tempting cocktails listed (hellooooo Sangre Y Humo (mezcal/grapefruit/Fernet/cinnamon), hellooooo Smoked Pisco Sour). Also!! Remember to tear off the corner of your menu for a free tequila shot on your next visit; fingers crossed for the Roca Patron Reposado, yum.
Additional positive points include:
dog-friendly patio - a very hopeful pit mix at the next table watched every bite we took of our carnitas tacos
relaxed vibes from shared tables, which made for good people-watching
Downsides include: chaotic service involving waitstaff rushing between tables & not knowing the menu, lost dishes, and long intervals between plates arriving. At another restaurant, this would have been a major turnoff, but considering it was a busy Friday and we were not in any rush, we just sat back with our drinks and enjoyed the atmosphere and conversation. If you are the type of person where this might bother you, potentially reconsider booking on a Friday evening.
La Lucha // Paul-Lincke-Ufer 39-41 // 10999 Berlin
Open Sun-Thurs (18-22h), Fri-Sat (18-23h)