Over the past few years, masks have come and largely gone as an everyday accessory in reaction to public health recommendations and mandates. Even with debates over their use for disease prevention no longer dominant in the headlines, there’s a subculture where masks have always been part of the scenery with far less controversy involved.  As its name implies, Maskadores Taco Shop, a local chain of taquerias, celebrates the tradition of La Luche Libre, Mexican professional wrestling known for the colorful masks worn by its competitors.

tacodillas with rice and black beans

Maskadores now has several locations which seem to operate with varying degrees of autonomy. The location served by light rail is in Midtown Phoenix, about two blocks west of the Thomas/Central station. The small taqueria is found in between tenants in a strip mall with bike racks at its eastern edge. There are a few tables outside and many more in a dining room where colorful paintings of masked wrestlers look down upon customers. Two life-size statues of luchadors, one near the entrance and one near the counter, keep an eye on the dining room.

enchiladas with rice and pinto beans

A few small tables outside offer an appealing option for customers who prefer outdoor dining, and since almost everything is packaged to go, the restaurant works equally well for takeout. Orders are taken at a counter, and food is prepared in a small open kitchen behind. The overhead menus begin with about a dozen basic meat fillings. Essential taco fillings such as carne asada, tinga, and carnitas are generally offered in both typical and spicy, tangy variations such as asada ranchero or vinagretta chicken. Birria is the latest addition to the menu.

street tacos with rice and pinto beans

All are worth exploring, but two standouts are the barbacoa and the tinga chipotle chicken, both distinguished by their tender textures and nuanced flavors. A selection of seafood fillings at the bottom adds choices such as shrimp and fish. Elsewhere, the menu displays various combo meals that can be built with any of the proteins in various formats. Flour tortilla tacos have a larger diameter with two included in a meal with rice and beans, either whole pintos or black. Street tacos are made with smaller corn tortillas and come four to an order, also with sides.

flour tacos with rice and black beans

Tacos can be dressed in two stages. First, the cook behind the counter can add toppings such as cheese, cilantro, or pickled onions. With Chipotle-style customization having no bounds, it can be easy to get carried away here with too many ingredients, especially since more choices await after the food is plated and paid for. As a next step, the customer has access to a small salsa bar. The condiments there are not always clearly labeled and can vary in their availability, but when it’s offered, the creamy green salsa is often the hottest of all with its serrano chilies.

bandera burrito

All the same fillings that can fill open tortillas as tacos can also be wrapped in a larger flour disc to create a burrito. Breakfast burritos incorporating fillings such as machaca, eggs, chorizo, and potatoes are also an option. At any time of the day, the burritos can then be eaten by hand in their simplest format, but they can also be upgraded to a wet variant, dressed with sauce, that requires a knife and fork. They can also be deep-fried and topped with sauce to create a chimichanga with a choice of filling. Tortilla avoiders can of course obtain a burrito bowl.


The ultimate creation at Maskadores is the shop’s bandera burrito. This meal is topped with both red and green sauces, a sprinkling of cheese, a dollop of guacamole, a little pico de gallo, and a central band of sour cream. All these ingredients are arranged in a vibrant tricolor pattern that evokes the Mexican flag. Another cylindrical structure, the taquitos combo, is like the bandera burrito in terms of being a moist and messy (in a good way) with layers of beans, minced cilantro, pico de gallo, and shredded cheese tiered and tossed on top of the rolled tacos.

rolled tacos

Additional options on the menu include familiar favorites such as enchiladas and quesadillas. The latter also comes in a smaller size known as “tacodillas,” mini-quesadillas that can be eaten with one hand and mixed-and-matched with one filling in one and a different filling in another. While much of the menu has a border feel, a menu item from more central and southern portions of Mexico is the sopes. These thick, concave discs of masa are fried and then served fresh and warm with a choice of meat, beans, cheese, and various garnishes on top of them.


Although Maskadores is a loosely organized chain in which some locations serve alcohol, the Midtown location does not have a liquor license. Instead, there are fountain drinks, bottle Jarritos sodas, and Mexican beverages like jamaica. Desserts take the form of small cakes such as strawberry tres leches, chocoflan, or carrot. They’re sized for two people to share and are kept in a refrigerated case behind the counter. The drinks and desserts serve not only as sweet indulgences, but also  fire extinguishers for the lingering burn of the fiery salsas they follow.

carrot cake

The masks that have been ubiquitous in the last few years have been for most people a temporary means of coping with a public health problem. For Mexican wrestlers, they’re part of an enduring culture. During the peak of the pandemic, a few luchadors even found an entrepreneurial way to connect the two phenomena by crafting and selling face coverings inspired by La Lucha Libre. Arguments about mask wearing may be an unpleasant memory of the early 2020s, but just about everyone can appreciate tacos with a masked wrestling theme.

53 W. Thomas Rd., Phoenix AZ 85013