Great food can set a restaurant apart from its competition only so much in an industry in which great food isn’t hard to come by. When a restaurant has great food and service, creating an all-around satisfying experience, that’s when a restaurant becomes a favorite.
La Lucha became that for me. The food was delicious, but the service is what made a pricier tab worth it.
The restaurant reminds me of a home dining room with framed photos lining the wall, Persian carpets and lounge areas that were complete with leather couches, small coffee tables and throw pillows.
I’d call it comfortable upper class. Noticeably nicer than your average restaurant, but warm and inviting.
I visited La Lucha with a small group without making a reservation, so no table was available. The hostess offered for us to sit in one of its two lounge areas to eat or to sit at the bar. The wait for a regular table was estimated at an hour.
We sat in the lounge area a little bummed about the wait time. Our server came over and asked if we were eating at the lounge area or just waiting. When we told him we weren’t sure yet, he offered to see if they could seat us sooner than originally thought. He came back and let us know that they could sit us in half the time.
So we decided to eat an appetizer while we continued to wait.
The menu at La Lucha is small. In the middle section of its trifold printout is the entire menu. After reading the menu a few times we realized there were no appetizers. The server then explained that the menu is a la carte and any dish could be an appetizer. He also explained that most people order family style, which means they order a few dishes and share.
For our “appetizer” we ordered two sides, baked yeast rolls and fries.
An order of rolls only came with four, but they were worth the $5 they cost. Warm and clustered together, the rolls were sprinkled with salt. Butter was plopped in the middle of the cluster with chives on top.
The butter, which had a hint of honey in it, melted against the warmth of the rolls. What made these rolls stand out was the onion flavor from the chives. The rolls were fluffy except for the top crust, which was crunchier.
The fries also came with chives sprinkled on top. The light crispiness of the fries made them easy to eat and, again, the chives gave them the extra flavor I didn’t expect but enjoyed.
The half-hour flew by with our server quickly getting us anything we needed and giving us periodic updates about our table.
Our move to the table gave us a new server but throughout our time there, we were still helped by our first one. We ended up asking who was our actual server was because we couldn’t tell. Our first server told us he wasn’t technically our server any longer, but they all worked as a team and helped each other constantly.
I appreciated that perspective and commitment from the servers. Even when they helped my group choose which entrees to get, both servers were happy to talk about each dish, which made us excited for our meal.
We ordered the redfish on the halfshell and the fried chicken to share. We also got another order of rolls, because again, they were worth it.
The redfish with the halfshell on the bottom, which our server told us helps contain the moisture, came with red posole, radish, cabbage and lime.
There are three ways you can eat the redfish dish: by eating the fish and radish and cabbage separately, by pulling the fish apart and mixing it with the side veggies to make a salad or by making fish tacos with the corn tortillas that come on the side.
The red posole that was poured over the fish collected at the bottom of the plate. My fork slid easily through the fish and it peeled right off its shell.
From the first bite, the redfish melted in my mouth. The posole had a spicy kick that had me reaching for my glass of water a few times. I also made a fish taco and enjoyed the tender fish just as much inside the tortilla.
The half-order of the fried chicken came with four pieces of chicken, biscuits and pickle spears. Aside from La Lucha’s “Gulf Gems,” it’s known for its fried chicken, which is why I knew I had to try it.
Thin, crunchy breading covered two thighs, a breast and a leg. The breading wasn’t too greasy, but slid away from the meat after biting into it. The chicken was juicy. The group I was with literally said, “This is the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.”
Throughout the meal, the servers were quick, accommodating and genuinely nice.
I look forward to my next visit. I’ll have to remember to make a reservation.
Address: 1801 N. Shepherd Dr.
Hours: 5–10 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, noon–2 a.m. Saturday, noon–10 p.m. Sunday
Healthy options: Yes
Star of the show: Redfish on the halfshell