Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Guest taste test: La Super-Rica

tamales con crema at La Super-Rica
On a recent wine trip to Santa Barbara, my friend Kathy took a break from vino and stopped in at venerable foodie pilgramage spot La Super-Rica. Here's what she had to say.
La Super Rica is remarkable for its mundane, former dairy stand setting and the fact that no matter when you cruise by, there's a line. Since it's a 99-mile cruise-by for me, I've only been there a couple of times but I've yet to be disappointed. Thomas Keller once told me he was a fan; Julia Child was a famous customer. Because of its stellar rep, a visit to this family run operation requires some strategy. Mine was to get there just after the 11 a.m. opening on Saturday. I waited about five minutes to order, not giving me very much time to study the menu. However, it doesn't seem to have changed much in the last 10 years. Compared to Los Angeles prices, it's more in the Seite Mares than Allegria range. You order and pay (cash only) at the window. Behind the counter was an overflowing bowl of masa as tortillas are made and grilled to order here. The cook was frying up a hearty mix of chorizo, pasilla peppers, strips of beef and pork. The menu is posted above on a chalkboard with daily specials to the left. I had the taco de costilla, generous, thick strips of marinated top round served on two of those fresh corn tortillas. ($2.10).

Was that a hint of anise in the marinade? The special tamale de verdaduras was a blend of white corn masa, sweet, white corn kernels, strips of red and green pasilla peppers, chopped zucchini and potatoes, mixed with an orange, Kraft-American cheese and topped by the a milky, almost soupy crema. I combined four salsas as topping -- the salsa verde was just perfect. Some folks pack up extras to take home. The cinnamon spiced-coffee hit the spot on such a chilly morning. Part of La Super Rica's charm is the bare bones operation ­you can practically touch the food on the grill at the pick-up window. Whether they serve the best Mexican food in California is certainly debatable, but fresh, flavorful and inexpensive, is always a winning combo.
-- Kathy A. McDonald
La Super Rica
622 N. Milpas St.
Santa Barbara


cybele said...

What fun! I just discovered Super Rica last summer and now it's an essential stop whenever I'm in the area. Often we go late afternoon, around 4PM and there hasn't been any line at all.

The Dabbler said...

I love La Super Rica...I would consider driving to SB just to go there. Though with gas prices these days, that would be one expensive taco. Locally, Tere's Mexican Grill is wonderful.