Luchador Tacos (North Conway, NH)

In preparation for our June trip to Isle Royale National Park, we needed to do some final outdoor gear shopping, and used the opportunity to check out the relatively new REI in North Conway, NH. After a successful shopping trip, we drove up the White Mountain Highway, the main drag in North Conway, and encountered Luchador Tacos, unmissable due to the large Luchador (profession Mexican wrestler, with the mask) on their signage. Growing up in Arizona, random little taco and burrito stores were extremely common, but here in northern New England, while places like Lalo’s Taqueria are making in-roads, they are still a pretty rare beast, so I decided to drop in and give Luchador a try.

Walking in the door, the immediate response was that I indeed walked into what I normally call a “Standard East LA-style Taco/Burrito Shop”, serving up your basic street-style tacos and simple burritos. They had the basics down: an ordering counter with items prepped to order, a simple menu (burrito, taco, bowl, salad, quesdadilla, that’s pretty much it) with a selection of proteins (chicken, steak, carnitas, veggies), along with chips, salsa, beans, and an array of beverages, including the near-mandatory Jarritos sodas. Notably absent are any more proteins on the adventurous-for-most-Americans list, like lengua, barbacoa, or cabeza, but at least they’ve got the basics down. While originally I thought I was going to order some tacos, I decided on the spot that the burrito looked like a good option, ordering their “Luchador Burrito” special, with carne asada, red sauce, beans, cilantro-lime rice, and cheese. The staff steamed the tortillas, assembled our burritos, and Carol and I were out the door to a picnic table with our burritos, chips, salsa, and Jarritos quite promptly.

Burritos are always a bit of a challenge for food photography, since you’ve either got a generic foil-wrapped object, a generic tortilla exterior shot, or a somewhat sloppy “action shot”, so it’s hard to convey the difference between a good burrito and a poor one with a photo, but this was a well-done one. For starts, it is properly assembled, with a nice, tight roll and good distribution of condiments (no vertical burrito here, or one of the spherical atrocities I sometimes get from Chipotle with a bunch of ingredients just wadded up). This was a well-executed burrito wrap. The ingredients were good as well: the carne asada having what I consider the key feature lacking in many fast food burritos: a good crisp. This is obviously starting with a decent, seasoned steak and grilling it up. The beans and rice were good, and the red sauce flavorful, if a bit mild (I can’t discount much for this, the Northern New England palate definitely doesn’t go for as much spice as I’m accustomed to; Luchador has to play to the crowd).

Same thing with the salsa with the chips: it was a good, well-executed and fresh pico de gallo, with excellent flavor, but distinctly on the mild side. Overall, I’m happy. There are few enough places serving classic “Taco and Burrito Shop” style Mexican-American style tacos and burritos, and the product here is well prepared and reasonably-priced. If I come again to Luchador, either in North Conway, or one of their other locatiosn (South Paris, ME, or expected to open soon in Worcester, MA), I’ll happily order again, although I may see if they’ve got some hotter salsa hiding in back somewhere.

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