In a world of multiplying Mexican eateries hopping on trends like street food and tacos, true Mexican food lovers in Berlin can rely on La Lucha to deliver some serious things. For the uninitiated, La Lucha is the Mexican food equivalent of the energy that the world felt when Mobb Deep released The Infamous, folded around potato and chorizo fillings, mole poblado, or bone marrow and pineapple pico de gallo.
Without taking too much space on this article, let’s just say that the new guard of Mexican restaurants in Berlin haven’t really managed to grasp the entire culture of this fantastically particular cuisine, and many visits to various eateries have ended in repeated disappointments.
Max Paarlberg, a London-born Dutch expat slash citizen of the world, hopes to overcome these challenges with his modern Mexican food joint La Lucha, aptly translated as “the struggle” in Spanish, which – in their own words – represents this:
La Lucha is our struggle to bring Berlin a taste of the real Mexico.
Just passing through the pink neon-lit entrance sets you so much in the mood that you want to practice your loose Spanish skills with the staff. Inside the joint, the interiors are so intelligently thought out that you can’t help getting excited about what your evening is going to be like. When you finally sit down and glance at the menu, you realize real quick that you’re in for a crazy treat.
La Lucha Berlin Menu & Atmosphere
If you’re in the mood to get to know the entire staff of La Lucha by being obnoxiously talkative, order the tequila flights. You’ll get the three main styles of tequila to try, which are:
- Sierra Antiguo Blanco
- Topanito Reposado
- Sierra Antiguo Añejo
When you got these babies chugged down, finish off with a shot of tomato juice before getting your eat on. Start off with the taquitos dorados, add the carnitas and the fish tacos and finish off with the beef brisket burrito. The fish tacos, with a salsa verde packing just the right amount of heat and fried to perfection, is definitely my biggest excuse to keep coming back – if I have to pick just one reason (I have about 14 of them).
The staff is friendly as hell and is basically another piece of the methodic madness that seems to play an influential part in the creation of the entire concept. Talking to Max, you instantly feel to what extent real passion has played a role in every decision making. From the staff on the floor, the kitchen, the design orientation of the restaurant, the menus and the plate presentation – it all flows together. Top it all off with a mixed soundtrack of Mexican cumbia and cuts off Cypress Hill’s Spanish album and you got a winner right there.
So how can a Dutch expat be able to open a Mexican food joint that instantly places itself at the very top, competing with the best? After backpacking throughout South America and falling in love with Buenos Aires (I can relate), Max decided to stay in the Argentine capital to pursue his plan of hosting an illegal supper club concept, teaming up with art galleries to serve food based on the art displayed.
Experiencing success in the Recoleta neighborhood, attracting a clientele based off politicians and influential residents of the city, the concept struggled with the economic turmoil Argentina went through in the early 2000’s, eventually forcing Max to leave the concept behind and moving back to London. Now in Berlin with a fresh concept like La Lucha, it seems obvious that another big city conquest is in the cards.
It’s evident when you eat here: The food at La Lucha is made of the freshest ingredients and you recognize how they try to bring the food down to a price point that they can win on, while still being able to offer food tasty enough to disrupt the established Mexican food scene in Berlin.
You know where to go.