[EDITOR’S NOTE 7/31/20: Since this was originally posted, Facebook posts from one of the founders of the Ole Group have surfaced showing that he is not in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and that he believes protesters demanding justice for Black lives are Marxists using Mafia tactics to shake down businesses. These views do not represent my own, and as such, I no longer patronize this restaurant or any other Ole Group establishment. I am leaving this review up because I believe in transparency and I would like to let my readers make their own decisions on whether or not to support a local business. For more information on my views, see my Instagram post.]
It’s time for another #LocalFoodieFriday! This time, we’re taking a trip to one of my favorite local chains. Taco Luchador is the brainchild of two masterful chefs that were born in Havana, Cuba and call Louisville home. Fernando and Yaniel Martinez are the masterminds behind local faves such as Havana Rumba, Mussel & Burger Bar, and Steak & Bourbon. When it comes to running a successful restaurant concept, they know what they’re doing. Perhaps that’s why Taco Luchador has taken off as one of the city’s top places to grab a bite to eat.
If you’re new to the world of more authentic tacos, this is the place to start. The menu is highly polished and full of flavor, while steering away from anything that might be too “out there” for people who aren’t familiar with authentic Mexican cuisine. If you are looking for more spice and intriguing ingredients like beef cheek, there are a ton of small local taquerias that can deliver (and I plan on reviewing some soon!). But if you’re looking for tamer menu with great drinks and a nice patio, Taco Luchador can’t be beat.
The four Taco Luchador locations are found in St. Matthews, the Highlands, Jeffersontown, and Colonial Gardens, so there are few places in town that are more than 20 minutes from a location. Until recently, they had a downtown location, and I hope to see them back in that area sometime soon. Each location boasts bright and colorful patio space, making this one of the best places for al fresco dining in warm weather. Now, with the current guidelines for dining during a pandemic, eating outside is the best way to get your traditional restaurant experience fix in a relatively safe environment. I’m always looking for places with great outdoor space so I can avoid gobbling up takeout in front of the TV for the 875th day in a row, so Taco Luchador ticks that box for me!
The menu ranges from fan favorite starters like mole fries and chips with guac; to tacos that range from chicken tinga to battered fish; to tortas (sandwiches) that are as big as your head. Seriously, order at your own risk because you WILL have leftovers (which honestly, getting to eat it twice is the best part). Before going vegetarian, I loved to mix and match the pork and chicken tacos. The Al Pastor (which included pineapple, to die for) and the Tinga (chicken taco topped with guacamole, what’s not to love??) were my favorites. Now as a vegetarian, I like to order a few starters to accompany my vegetarian taco (which features sweet plantains, corn, and guacamole – three of my favorite things). The best starter by far is the elote, which you may know from its status as a “trendy” food in America as of late. This version of Mexican street corn is one of the best though, perfectly caramelized and slathered with mayo, spices, and cotija cheese. Paired with a squeeze of lime, it’s a welcome shot of summer during this weird season the world’s in right now that feels like all of the heat with none of the flavor.
In a city filled to the brim with amazing restaurants, Taco Luchador stands out for its atmosphere and its food. I’ve been going to multiple locations for years, and have yet to have a single bad experience. They’ve accommodated me in large groups and been a quick bite to eat when I’m on my own, and been a place that I proudly take out of towners to so they can see what a great food scene Louisville has to offer. Next time you want a taco, skip the Bell and tussle with a Luchador instead.
Taco Luchador is open M-Th 11-9, F 11-9:30, Sat 12-9:30, and Sun 12-8:30. Visit their website and call ahead to order takeout, or stop by for some patio dining at one of their four locations.