Food News

Barbacoa Tacos at El Jefe Luchador in Deerfield Beach

Even if it's a quiet hour between lunch and dinner, inside Deerfield's El Jefe Luchador, it's as animated as a Mexican streetfest. Tables and chairs wear primary colors like a box of fat crayons. Against one wall, flamboyant masks stare from empty eyes: a reference to its "chief fighter" name. A gaudy crystal chandelier hangs from tin ceilings. ZZ Top blares toward the entrance.

The menu is

as noisy, with 15 colors repped among menu listings of street-style antojitos, plates, sidekicks, add-ons, and desserts. 

When my food arrives, the harmony begins. Inside a barbacoa number, braised beef brisket packs heat with guajillo chilis. A ripe tomato and onion medley lend sweet and sharp crunch. Tart lime, a handful of cilantro, and a liberal sprinkle of queso blanco round it out. Homemade white-corn tortillas trekked in every day gives these tacos cred. "We can't say who makes them," said a line cook.The innards slip out as I pick up my taco. Barbacoa juice drizzles the plate. 

As delicious as it is -- this balance of savory, sweet, green, tart, and fat -- a few things I'd wish: a fresh tomato salsa swap, onions caramelized or pickled rather than unseasoned raw, and more complexity from the compilation.

And yet, El Jefe Luchador's barbacoa tacos are worth the nine-mile after-work trek. I order seconds. Having sampled tacos from half a dozen places, I haven't yet found anything better. 

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart