La Lucha, a brand new concept by Atlanta-based restauranteur and Houston native Ford Fry, is set to debut in the upcoming weeks. Taking over the space that formerly housed Hunky Dory in the Heights (and adjacent to sister restaurant Superica, which will go in the former Bernadine’s space), La Lucha, which means “The Fight,” pays homage to the cuisine of Houston’s historic, but now defunct San Jacinto Inn.
Those not familiar with the San Jacinto Inn won’t remember the all-you-can-eat spreads that the restaurant was known for. Founded in 1918, and located on near the site of the famous Battle of San Jacinto (when Texas won its independence from the Republic of Mexico), the restaurant enjoyed a 69-year run, gaining national acclaim for serving unlimited helpings of in-season seafood, fried chicken and biscuits before ultimately closing in 1987. As a kid growing up in Houston, Fry and his family paid regular visits to the inn, where he would feast on crab, shrimp, oysters, fried chicken and more.
The menu at La Lucha recalls Fry’s halcyon memories of those glory days. State of Grace’s executive chef, Bobby Matos, who will be in charge of culinary at all three restaurants once they are open, is developing the menu, which he describes as, “Texas coastal meets Louisiana.”
You can bet that there will be oysters. An oyster shucking room and a wood-burning hearth are two key features in the new design of the space.“We will be featuring only Southern (Gulf) oysters from small farmers from Florida to Texas,” Matos says. Roasted oysters come in two flavors reminiscent of something one might find in coastal Mexico, one a bright, aromatic, green-colored cilantro-based sauce; the other a deep red, smoky ancho-chile sauce.
There will be boiled shrimp by the pound, served with cocktail sauce. And for those who want something more chef’d up, there will be a Thai-style coconut curry shrimp topped with fresh sprigs of mint.
One of the standout menu items is something Matos calls crawfish toast. Sliced into small finger sized pieces, it’s like the ultimate grilled cheese, filled with melted cheddar and crawfish tails and sandwiched between slices of airily crisp bread that is to-die-for.
Are you a fried chicken lover? If so, be prepared for the fried chicken at La Lucha. Full of flavor, and dusted in a thin, golden crust that is simply wonderful, this juicy fried chicken is a about as good as it gets. The reason? No cheap chicken here. It’s free-range, antibiotic-free, hormone-free chicken from luxury food purveyor D’Artagnan.
A sampling of the sides include homemade biscuits with house-made preserves, house-made pickles, braised collards, and for dessert, soft serve ice cream topped with hot caramel sauce.
“Most of the food will be super simple just with great technique and lots of love,” says Matos, who says he’s got about 60 percent of the menu complete. And among the many other dishes he’s excited to debut? “Chili-lime-butter blue crabs, when they’re in season.”
La Lucha will be located at 1801 N Shepherd in the Heights. For tickets for the restaurant’s pre-opening bash, scheduled for Sunday, September 9, 2018, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/la-lucha-superica-pre-opening-bash-tickets-48285418988.
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