LUCHADOR REVIEW - WHAT NOSSY ATE


It was my first-time visiting Luchador, a rooftop restaurant at the 4 star Aloft hotel on the Palm Jumeirah. Situated on the east crescent, between Anantara and the Rixos hotel, this is one of four edgy but budget friendly hotels under the Marriott brand.
However, that doesn't mean Luchador is a chain. It's actually a one-off Mexican restaurant and bar which opened one month after the hotel in early 2018.
Once the lift doors open my attention is caught by the brightly colored art then by the wall of Mexican wrestling masks, which is evidently where the restaurant got its name. A luchador is someone that competes in lucha libra style wrestling.
My reservation is for an early Friday evening and I'm greeted by smiling staff and the buzz of a post brunch crowd who have gathered to continue drinking around a long table close to the bar.
The outdoor seating is sadly closed due to the awful windy conditions, so we have the option to choose from one of 25 different tables inside. We decide upon a window table for two. Not long after being seated and whilst I was eyeing over the menu, a bowl of corn chips and three dips appear without my notice.

This is one of the few restaurants I've been to where the beverage menu exceeds the food menu. They have everything from Mexican beer and rum to Spanish wines but the main focus here is mezcal followed by tequila of course. It's evident by the illuminated neon sign "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor". Although striking it also means there isn't much in the way of light on our table, besides a faux candle.
My tequila spritz arrives fishbowl style in a giant round wine glass and even though the salty citrus drink is marked with a chili on the menu, I don't quite feel the kick that was intended. My dining partner’s 'El Matador' is a bit stronger and bitter thanks to the addition of triple sec to the tequila mix and the haberno sauce leaves a punchy aftertaste.
Their food menu is quite straightforward. They serve 3 types of guacamoles from which we order the chilito. The addition of fried garlic chips takes this otherwise standard guacamole to the next level.
From the botanas (Mexican snacks) and ceviche (raw fish) section, I'm suggested to try the 'Durazno' raw chunks of tuna, sweetened with apricot, leche de tigre (tigers milk; used to cure fish) with a kick of Serrano chili. It's as tasty as it is pretty, garnished with sliced onion, radish and brightly colored edible flowers.
In addition to this we try the Chorizo Verde Antojito, small folded soft tortillas filled with slices of chicken and beef chorizo, melted cheese and comes served drizzled with a mix of guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo.
For the mains we ordered a mix platter of 4 different tacos to try as well as Gaoneras a steak dish from the Especiales Del Luchador aka the special menu. To my dismay, my dining partner requests it be cooked medium well (I'd prefer it medium rare). However to our delight the steak isn't tough at all and comes loaded with melted cheese topped with grilled pineapple and mushroom, garnished with half an avocado sliced over the top and a generous portion of sweet potato fries.
Normally the tacos are served in portions of 3 of the same flavor, else you can opt for 4 different which is what we did. We tried the fish (tacos de pescado), lamb (tacos dorados), chicken (tacos de pollo) and beef (pibil), the latter made with slow cooked short ribs, black beans and pickled onions has a nice balanced flavor and is something I’d order again.
To round off our dining experience we ended with the chef special dessert, Tres Leches, served pudding-like in a bowl decorated with red berries, meringue and ice cream as well as some freshly cooked churros rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with hot chocolate sauce.
Thursdays and Fridays see the place liven up even more (if that's even possible) with a live band playing a mix of Spanish tunes. Pay them a visit if you’re after Mexican fare, strong drinks panoramic gulf views, in a hip and fun environment.




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