Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

La Super Rica (Santa Barbara)


Recommended Posts

Basically, La Super Rica is a taco truck masquerading as a building. Just a cute white shack with aqua trim, on a safe Santa Barbara street corner. Nothing wrong with that, and the food is delicious, but with La Super Rica’s reputation and its link to the legend of Julia Child, the bare bones reality should be made clear to those planning a pilgrimage.

And boy, do the pilgrims come! By 11:30, there’s a long line of them snaking down the side street, sweating in the sun, maybe expecting a mex-Per Se. Many of the patrons are too well-dressed or aren’t down-home enough for a taco truck. (Pressed jeans, starched dress shirts, lilac sweat suits, and lots of jewelry.)

Prices are only a dollar or more per item than you’d find in a ground-level taco outlet, so La Super Rica is still a deal. The counter guy is really gracious and patient with all the visiting foodies. And despite the upper-level American clientele, the food is worth a visit.

Not many vegetables, though. The signature taco consists of a little dessert-sized paper plate with two fresh made corn tortillas (less than 6” diameter), scattered with a small spoonful of wonderfully seasoned grilled beef. That’s it. For $2.10. No green onion stalk or pickled carrot stick on the side like you’d get at a taco truck. But the taco’s really delicious. So is the grilled pasilla pepper, chopped and sautéed with onion and cheese and served on those tiny tortillas. That’s really good. The chili mounts its attack after you’ve cleared your mouth: it starts at the back of your head and works forward to your brow. Your tongue remains unscathed. Just that interesting version of chili heat is a reason to order that taco. The coffee’s something else too: a tiny foam cup with standard brewed coffee spiked with cinnamon and brown sugar. Cuban coffee as a delicate ballerina.

Overall, the food’s enjoyable. The handwritten menu board lists about a dozen more variations on the basic taco, but they all taste pretty much the same. You should add it to your list of foodie destinations if you’re in the area. The people-watching is a lot of fun. Just don’t think too much about the Julia Child hype.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really like La Super Rica. The taco with the cheese, onions and peppers is my favorite on the regular menu.

As you described the plain meat tacos are very plain. Sometimes I will get one to mix in with other non-meat dishes.

Other great specials are the chili rellenos and chilaquiles. Chili Rellenos have a great creme sauce, and really nice cheese filling.

To me the atmosphere is taco truck, but the food is not. There are some great and complex flavors to some of the food.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not too many taco trucks last over 20 years. It was a falafel joint before it was LSR and all they did was paint it. Same tent, same counter, same tables. The only other big change came when the Health Dept. told them to stop using the aluminum bowels for the cheese and chorizo fondue. Now it is served in paper instead of bubbling hot in metal. In the 22 years I have been eating there I have never had a bad bite of food. As to the "pilgrims" it is true some folks definitely over dress for LSR. It is a "joint". The line however is not too bad as there is only 2 people inside so the whole line is outside. Tables can be hard to get. The food is really special though and I have never found another place like it. It is not gourmet or special ingredients there is just some type of synergy they posses. I would advise anyone thinking of going to do so. But as the thread

s first post pointed out it is by no means a place to plan to sit and have a meal in a dining room with any atmosphere. LSR is about the food and nothing else. The Julia Childs thing was over stated as she repeatedly said she never said it was her favorite restaurant. She did eat there quite a bit though. She also ate at Palace cafe quite often which is a very mediocre (imho) cajun restaurant. BTW the specials change from day to day but not week to week. So every Tuesday is one set and every weds. is a set and so on. For SB locals you start to remember to go on a specific day for specific items. Their Sopes are really terrific but only sold as a special so you need to get there the right day..

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

Link to post
Share on other sites

The pasilla peppers I have had at la super rica are not the dried ancho peppers, they are fresh green peppers which are heated on the grill.

There is one day when they have a mushroom special, I have heard of it but never hit a day when they have it. Any idea on what days?

Edited by majmaj40 (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

the whole pasilla thing is sticky. in most of mexico, a pasilla is a long dried red pepper but in one region (can't remember which) it is the same as a poblano. the ones at super-rica are poblanos. rob walsh did an article on this a couple of years ago.

i, too, have been going to super-rica for more than 20 years. i love it and make a point to eat there every time i'm in, or passing through, santa barbara. but i have weaned myself of the bad habit of taking the 101 to san francisco rather than the 5 so i can stop in (about a 4-hour difference).

it is what it is and it's perfect at it. but it certainly isn't a fancy place. julia did love the restaurant and did frequently say that it was her favorite restaurant in santa barbara, but julia was ... well, not lying, but hedging. she didn't want to pick a single "fancy" restaurant and hurt the feelings of the other chefs in the area. so she chose super-rica because a) it was "fuore classe"; and b) everybody could agree with it, at least as far as it went.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

La Super Rica is the type of place I would eat at almost everyday if I were in the area. I most often get the grilled pepper 'stuffed' with marinated grilled pork and cheese. This is a fresh fleshy triangular shaped pepper that I am used to calling a poblano pepper. The chilequilas look outrageously good, but I've not yet tried them. Ditto the vegetable tamales.

Poblano pepper pic:

http://tasteoftx.com/recipes/chiles/poblano.html

Link to post
Share on other sites
There are references to grilled pasilla peppers. These are dried peppers. Are they really Anchos? I know some stores call Anchos as Pasillas but is this the case here?

All of the stores in my area--central California coast--call poblanos "pasillas". I looked for poblanos for years before I figured that one out. As far as I can tell this mislabelling only occurs in the golden state.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...