Five Questions with the chef of El Taco Luchador - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Five Questions with the chef of El Taco Luchador

(Source: WAVE 3 News) (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Chef Fernando Martinez leads the Olé Restaurant Group. (Provided photo) Chef Fernando Martinez leads the Olé Restaurant Group. (Provided photo)
Luchador masks are a main theme at the popular taco spot. (Source: El Taco Luchador) Luchador masks are a main theme at the popular taco spot. (Source: El Taco Luchador)
Chef Fernando Martinez recommends diners try a 'torta,' or Mexican sandwich. (Source: Olé Restaurant Group) Chef Fernando Martinez recommends diners try a 'torta,' or Mexican sandwich. (Source: Olé Restaurant Group)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - If you have driven by the old Meridian Restaurant in St. Matthews lately, the building is hard to miss.

Now added on the side of the building is a huge painted mask of a luchador in bright red. The new restaurant, El Taco Luchador, is now officially open.

I had a chance to check it out, and the inside of the restaurant has been transformed. It is now exploding with bright colors and of course the wrestler's masks hang from the walls. The new owners also added an expanded patio on the outside.

Its owners have seven other restaurants. Led by Chef Fernando Martinez, the Olé Restaurant Group also owns Mercato Italiano in Norton Commons, Artesano Vino Tapas Y Mas in Westport Village, Guaca Mole Cocina Mexicana on Ormsby Station Rd., Mussel & Burger Bar in Jeffersontown, Mussel & Burger Bar downtown, Red Barn Kitchen in Lyndon, and El Taco Luchador on Baxter Ave.

Here are my five questions with Chef Fernando Martinez:

1) What was the challenge of opening El Taco Luchador in this location?

I'd say it was a fun challenge. Our whole group really thrives on creating unique spaces. With a few like Red Barn Kitchen and this new El Taco Luchador in St. Matthews at 112 Meridian Ave., we reworked some existing spaces to our liking. Sometimes that takes longer than you originally expect. We're really proud of how it came out. The new El Taco Luchador is very colorful. Bright tiles, walls, and of the course, the Mexican wrestling theme with the masks all across the walls.

2) What's different about the menu at this location?

We've added some lighter options. I really like the Mexican Crunchy Salad with arugula, roasted tomatoes, beets, carrots, radish, red onions, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, queso fresco, avocado, pickled red cabbage, crispy tortilla chips and Agave-Lime dressing. It's light and full of quality greens and ingredients. We've also added margaritas and sangria. I think our recipes are quite good. Pair them with the new patio with overhanging lights and you have the perfect late summer/fall hangout spot.

3) For first-timers, what do you suggest they order?

That's very tough. Everyone loves the tacos, but the Mexican sandwiches or "tortas" have a big following. Go for the Ahogada -- carnitas, pickled onions, guajillo sauce on bolillo bread.

4) Are you going to keep the Baxter Avenue location open?

Yes, definitely. It's been very successful and the reason we are launching more. Buzzfeed and Yelp ranked it the most popular taco spot in the state.

5) What's planned next for the Olé Restaurant Group?

Mas tacos. A downtown Louisville location will be next. Probably Jtown after that. WAVE Country loves their tacos.

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