Mexican restaurant Lucharitos opens in Melville

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Nine years after debuting in Greenport, Lucharitos, Marc LaMaina’s bustling taqueria-tequila bar chain, opens in Melville today. It is the largest of the five sites in the Mexican chain, the most westerly and the first in which it has a partner, Kevin Mannix of Syosset.

The menu is very similar to the original from Greenport. Starters ($ 12 to $ 22) include fried “Mexican baby back ribs,” lobster guacamole, and jalapeño poppers with bacon and cream cheese. Other dishes offer toppings ranging from traditional (beef carne asada, pork carnitas, chicken adobo) to creative (barbecued pulled pork, local grilled duck, coconut shrimp). Choose from burritos ($ 14 to $ 17), tacos (orders are $ 11 to $ 14), nachos ($ 12 to $ 18), quesadillas ($ 9 to $ 16), and bowls (8 $ to $ 15).

The bar offers an impressive range of tequilas; margaritas are made with homemade fresh fruit purees and signature drinks include Paloma (tequila, grapefruit and soda edged with Tajin spices) and Lucha punch (light and dark rums, Malibu, orange juice, pineapple and cranberry.)

Seating 80 (more outdoors), the dining area is an exuberant mix of tiling – turquoise herringbone subway tiles on the wall, black-and-white graphics on the bar – plus a tropical mural by the artist from Greenport Kara Hoblin and, of course, paintings and prints of luchadores, the extravagant Mexican wrestlers who bear the channel’s name. LaMaina crafted the design himself, noting that most of its elements come from Lowe’s. (One exception: the floral oilcloths that cover some tables are supplied by an eBay seller in Mexico.)

LaMaina said the restaurant’s success will depend on its staff. General Manager Thomas Martino is a veteran of Chili’s and TGI Fridays; executive chef Joe Taffurelli has run corporate and gourmet kitchens.

Lucharitos debuted in 2012 at a small storefront in Greenport where LaMaina initially opened a bakery and café called Butta’Cakes. In 2015 it expanded to the neighboring space and in 2017 it spawned Little Lucharitos, a taco stand in Aquebogue. LaMaina bought a small farm in Center Moriches and in 2019 installed a food truck specializing in barbecue. The full-fledged restaurant and farm experience, which LaMaina calls Luchafarm, opened last year, as did a Lucharitos Burrito Bar in Mattituck.

But Melville is the first place that was purpose built from the ground up. “It was my dream from day one,” LaMaina said. “It’s a launching pad for us as a brand.” Lucharitos is the latest restaurant to open in the Melville Mall spin-off; its neighbors include Gregorys Coffee and the Mediterranean quick-service chain, Cava, and will soon be joined by TOA Asian Fusion.

Lucharitos is located at 834B Walt Whitman Rd., Melville, 631-271-3680, lucharitos.com.


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