El Luchador: Bringing Spice To The South Street Seaport
The South Street Seaport neighborhood has slowly but steadily been transforming itself these past five years or so–much of it post-Sandy–from a tourists-only theme park/mall with terrible food and obnoxious bars into an area that the ever-increasing residential community can actually use, and appreciate. Smorgasburg continues to serve first-rate snacks in those pods along Fulton Street's pedestrian plaza, nearby Stone Street is busier and more varied than ever before, and Watermark Bar and Industry Kitchen offer ok food in pretty settings on the East River Esplanade, a park that itself a huge win for the neighborhood. And now add another solid, fun eating option to the South Street Seaport mix, the funky "Tacos vs. Burritos" joint El Luchador.
El Luchador: Tacos vs Burritos
If you've passed by El Luchador, you've noticed it. A silver vintage airstream trailer with a billboard-ish neon sign faces South Street; a small open courtyard, strung with festive white lights, faces John Street; the kitchen and counter-service interior sits inside at modest brick structure painted with Mexican wrestling imagery, mostly the masks that sets the sport apart from its counterparts in other countries and turns its participants into something more like superheroes. The outdoor tables are an exceptionally pleasant place at which to eat, and the inside of the airstream is cool-looking, if a bit stuffy. There are also a few stools and narrow counters near where you order ideal for quick wolfing of your tacos, burritos, and/or quesadillas. The whole feels like it was magically transported from some industrial side street in Bushwick to this, formerly one of the tackiest tourist meccas in town.
Sweet, Spicy Selctions At The South Street Seaport
As for the food, I tried two tacos, a Pollo Asado and Carne Asada, and both really hit the spot, the heavily-seasoned meat fresh, juicy, and piled high, the salsas and, in the case of the beef version, the cotija cheese, making for worthy toppings. I hear that the fish taco, made from "beer-battered cod", is good as well. The El Luchador burrito was less convincing, weirdly doughy from the flour tortilla which seems to be folded up on itself in a way that makes some parts of the thing feel like you're eating soggy bread. The meat in the burrito I tried was shredded pork, Carnitas on the menu, and when you could taste it, it tasted good, but too many bites were mostly bland rice and crema. The Cajeta Flan, on the other hand, was excellent, creamy and sweet and with just the right amount of burnt caramel bite.