Nestled in a shopping center on the corner of Keist and Hampton in sunny Oak Cliff, newly opened Maskaras Mexican Grill has entered the crowded ring of taquerias and Mexican restaurants in the DFW area. Not that there is anything wrong with more tacos in Dallas — Dallasites are more than happy to try a new taco, and owners Rodolfo Jimenez and wife Zulma Vanessa are hoping that the city will begin to take notice of their unique concept: a lucha libre taqueria.
“We are tired of the cliche of the Mexican restaurant with sombreros, maracas and pictures of Pancho Villa. There is so much more to Mexican culture and we wanted to show another side,” Jimenez says. “So my wife and I decided to include my personal collection of lucha libre wrestling into the restaurant’s decor."
Lucha libre wrestling is an important part of Mexican culture, and the lucha history can be traced to the early 1900s. The masks that luchadors — lucha libre wrestlers — wear play an important role in wrestling storylines. The mask is considered part of the wrestler’s persona, and losing a mask can send a wrestler into obscurity. At Maskaras — which translates to "mask" — the decor is so intense that the restaurant could almost be mistaken for a lucha libre museum. With the bright red tables and chairs and blue walls, the room resembles a wrestling ring. The entire restaurant serves as an homage to the Mexican wrestling tradition. There are dozens of signed luchador masks along the walls, life-size mannequins wearing wrestling garb and other memorabilia like toys, candles and artwork. It’s an impressive collection. It’s just a small part of his personal collection, Jimenez says, one that he started building when he was a child in Mexico.
“My love for wrestling began when my brother took me to a wrestling event at Arena Coliseo in Guadalajara, Mexico,” he says. “At the end of the event, we met luchador Septiembre Negro and asked if we could buy his mask for 10 pesos. He said yes, and that is how my mask collection started.”
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It’s been a year since Jimenez and his wife Vanessa moved to Dallas from Florida. In Miami, Jimenez owned a restaurant with his brother but had to sell when it began to conflict with his television career. On top of being a restaurateur and avid lucha libre memorabilia collector, Jimenez also hosted a talk show on Univision and also appeared in several telenovelas.
After several decades in front of the camera, Jimenez decided to move his family to Dallas and focus on his restaurant full-time. After some research, Jiminez decided Dallas — and its taco-loving restaurant economy — would be the perfect city for Maskaras Mexican Grill.
Maskaras’ menu is full of Mexican soul food with 12 different taco plates in addition to tortas, quesadillas and a gigantic 15-inch burrito. The tacos de cerdo en adobo is a traditional street taco made with pork marinated in adobo sauce, cilantro and onions on a corn tortilla. The pork is incredibly tender and the adobo sauce gives it the right amount of kick.
The signature item is taco Maskaras, made with a family recipe Jimenez created with his brother in Florida. Made with steak, pico de gallo, guacamole and cheese in a crisp corn tortilla, it’s easy to tell that the pico and guac are made fresh in-house. Tacos can teeter on the edge between ho-hum and yum, but this lively house specialty has everything you could ask for in a taco. It’s balanced and exciting — everything a taco should be. And with vibrant decor and an interesting backstory, Maskaras is a curious addition to DFW’s growing taco arsenal.
Maskaras Mexican Grill, 2423 W. Kiest Blvd.