Tuesday, March 20, 2007

World War Tacos: Santa Barbara's La Super Rica Taqueria

La Super Rica in Santa Barbara looks like a lonely little taco shack on a corner. But do some research on Chowhound, Yelp, SantaBarbara.com, and find out that this little shack has caused quite a stir amongst taco lovers in SB. La Super Rica is mostly known as "Julia Child's Favorite Taqueria," but locals will differ on how amazing LSR really is.

La Super Rica has the power to cause a Citywide war. Check out some comments I found on Santabarbara.com:

One of the finest
Reviewer: Eric from Santa Barbara, CA
Listen, I love Del Taco, don't get me wrong...but if you are in the mood for a "street" taco from Mexico (and on an even better tortilla, cuz these are homemade and made to order), then La Super Rica is one of the best. I've been coming here for 18 years...the price has never changed...I used to think it was expensive (18 years ago), now, its one of the least expensive in town. I try to get in when there is no line, i.e. avoid it for lunch, but don't miss it!

*Eric...you lost me at "I love Del Taco."

This is the best mexican taco place ever
Reviewer: Luis from Santa Barbara, CA
If you want to know what aunthentic mexicans eat, this is the place. The tortillas are freshly hand made, they dont prepare your food till you order, its always fresh. Who the hell cares about La Tolteca or Taco al buen gusto, they may be the typical mexican restaurants, they´re so no great compare to La Super Rica. Why would anyone eat tacos de cabeza, or tripas or lengua, thats just disgusting. Only the good looking mexicans make food like this, so check it out. Any comments? beemer805@yahoo.com

*Luis...leaving your email address after dissing cabeza and lengua eaters is not a smart move. And "only the good looking mexicans make food like this"??? Email on homies.

What's the hype about??
Reviewer: NC from Santa Barbara, CA
I was NOT impressed. The food is bland, bland, bland. The chicken taco is literally a few chunks of plain chicken sitting on a corn tortilla. No sides, no nothing. The patio is falling apart, and eating there feels like you're sitting in an abandoned trailer park. Definitely nothing special

Way Overrated
Reviewer: Bob from Goleta
Intresting how people hype and defend this establishment so highly. The food is ok, but a bit on the bland side. MUCH better taquerias exist in Santa Barbara, in fact one is right up the street. keep this one for the yuppie crowd out for their "authentic" taqueria experience.

D and I rushed over to La Super Rica around 11am, trying to beat the lunch crowd. Instead, we found a line of locals eating an early lunch to beat the crowd of non-locals. Even in its busyness, co-owner Martin Gonzalez still made time to chat with us. He's a very sweet guy and the locals eat at LSR love him and his brother Isadoro immensly.

Martin advised us to order the Super-Rica Especial. Roasted chile pasilla stuffed with cheese and served with marinated pork over warm tortillas. Oh their tortillas! LSR's tortillas are quite heavenly.

Even though I was overwhelmed by so much cheese on such a hot day, I was able to enjoy this dish. The roasted chile pasilla were a perfect balance to the heaviness of the cheese and pork. Too bad the marinated pork was lacking that perfect punch of flavor to really push this dish forward.

I don't think anyone can go wrong with a chorizo taco. But for $2.30 for one tacos de chorizo???

Locals go crazy for La Super Rica's pozole, a pork and hominy stew. D loved his pozole. Too bad he had issues with the spiciness as the day went on. Poor D...he loves spice, but his body doesn't.

LSR's Tacos de Carne Deshebrada were incredibly tender and juicy. I really enjoyed the texture on the deshebrada. I just wish it had more flavor. This taco had me thinking about Yuca's mouth-watering Machaca taco. Damn!

So what would my Santabarbara.com review be?

Reviewer: Oishii Eats from Los Angeles
Great tortillas and sweet owner. I appreciate LSR's airy patio and natural lighting. Unfortunately, when it comes to my meal the carne deshebrada and LSR marinated pork were on the bland side.

When it comes to the La Super Rica War, I am a neutral country. I'll be Antartica.

La Super Rica Taqueria
622 N Milpas St
Santa Barbara, Ca 93103
(805) 963-4940
Mon-Sun 11am-9pm


eatdrinknbmerry said...

This place wasn't bad, just very expensive. Almost $8 for that small bowl of Pozole. I'm looking for good pozole recipes right now.

Chubbypanda said...

Wow! Pricy, but not for Santa Barbara.

I've noticed that restaurants selling "street tacos" all seem to under-salt their meat. When I asked a Mexican friend about this, he told me that the custom is to under-season so that the customer can adjust to taco to his or her taste. It's easier to add salt to something later than to take it out.

Then again, you've eaten a lot more "street tacos" than I have, so if you say something was bland, I believe you.

BoLA said...

I need to get MS to take me to Santa Barbara! ;)

HungryCouple said...

I went a couple years back with my bf during a road trip. We went late at night, which still had a good crowd. I didn't notice the prices- perhaps I was too distracted by the anticipation of my order, I didn't notice. The atmosphere is nice when it's not too crowded. When you drive by, it totally doesn't stand out, but that's part of its charm. I'm definitely due for a SB food extravaganza soon.

I hope you're doing well!


p.s. is your bf a food blogger?? o.O

kayoko said...

wow jeni, these pics are gorgeous! during my UCSB years, my friend Jim and I used to hit this place up all the time! he even saw Julia Child there once. i have fond memories of the place- ya'll in cali are extremely spoiled when it comes to mexican food- i would die for any of this right now! someone please bring some of this love to NY!

Food Marathon said...

During the warm months I go up to Santa Barbara to play disc golf, eat at La Super Rica and see a friend. She has since moved to New York, but that won't stop my trips. Regardless of authenticity or price, it's a terrific meal.

annie said...

I have been here once, heard alot about it and stopped over on the way up the coast. It was ok, the line was horribly long, and after all the wait it wasn't quite as ood as I expected. Good but not great it think.

Pirikara said...

OooOooyeah, that stew looks super red. I'd probably have issues with it too. =/

KirkK said...

Hey Jeni - Diving head first into the La Super Rica fray, huh? Funny thing, when you mentioned that this was Julia Child's Favorite Taqueria, it made me remember that in a Time Magazine article she once mentioned her fondness for Mickey D's French Fries.......I don't know why, but it just popped into my head!

Anonymous said...


im glad you reviewed this place. its pretty old. my parents used to go their BEFORE they were married, so it was one of the first places i went to when i got up to ucsb.

straight up, its good by santa barbara taco standards, but it gets its ass whooped to hell and back by MOST los angeles taco joints. the only thing that stands out is the fresh tortillas, and even then, i can always go to the shop on paramount right off the 710 (the name slips me right now) if i want some outstanding, fresh tortillas.

now, the secret in this case, is to skip suerica go to taqueria gloria, which is right down the street. its the shop with the yellow paint and decor. their all pastor is not shredded, its chunky, but those are delicious.

i think superica gets its name off all the yuppy white boys who are used to del taco and taco snacks from their high school cafeteria.

lastly, next time you are in santa barbara, check out super cucas. its on bath street i believe, and they have THE BEST pre-marinated carne asada. buy a couple pounds of this and find a bbq by the beach. their marinade matches any marinade in l.a. just dont make the mistake of going to their restaraunt in isla vista. that branch gets low marks in my honest opinion.

good reviews, keep em comin!

Bandini said...

the food looks really good

especially the chorizo taco. Most chorizo is mushy. That chorizo looks really well prepared.

mm I have to try this place.

Jeni said...

D, you love the pozole because it tastes like a bowl of Maggi sauce. I had a great weekend with you. Sorry for knocking out on the way home. You're the best chauffeur.

Chubbypanda..I heard the same too. But I personally like a taco that is perfect without any adjustments (i.e. salt, salsa, etc).

BOLA...you know you can take MS to SB. Guys like surprises.

Mary...yes, my bf is a fblogger. "D" is Eat Drink & Be Merry. He's my foodheart.

Hey Kayoko! Don't worry, you'll be back in S. Cal real soon right? If you lived out here, you can do a $60/2 weeks Taco experiment out here. haha.

Food Marathon...I had to look up "disc golf" before replying back to you. Frisbee golf is the same yes? You must be one of the many that make the trek for a LSR meal. You so crazy!

Annie...I totally agree. Good but not great. I can understand why the non-LSRlovers really don't like the place.

pirikara...poot poot!

Kirkk...as much as I respect Julia Child for all that she's done for the culinary world, I wondered about her credentials when it came to tacos. Really, I think she would of gone crazy at El Parian.

anonymous taco-lover...you're comment was so on point. thanks for your SB taco recs. I'm planning to go up in April and then in the summer again to fill up on wine, but I like have a list of cheap eats to keep me happy. So Gloria's and Super Cuca's??? Thanks for your honest opinion!

Bandini...the food and colors at LSR look great. I admit, I was more excited about posting the pictures than writing about it. I would really like to see what you have to say about La Super Rica.

Taste-Buzz said...

The chorizo seems to have been toasted on the gridle and then diced up, as each bite had a good amount of grill marking to it. I stopped in this weekend for the first time and was a little overwhelmed, so I did what any foodie would do and ordered by the shotgun method of pointing at a bunch of items.

Raymond said...

I always found LSR too bland and ridiculously overpriced. Its somewhat fancier vibe appeals to the SB foodies, who would not recognize a proper hole-in-the-wall tacqueria. SB cuisine has always been defined by more money than taste, unfortunately.

Hadley said...

I've been eating at Super-Rica for about 25 years and it is the bomb! The late great Julia Child got it right...However, it is Super-NOT-a joint to get tacos at, in fact I don't think I've ever had tacos here per se, though I've rolled some meat doobies of my own plenty of times. I love our Mexican joints in L.A. of course sin duda, but there are few eateries like Super Rica among the thousands of establishments here. The food here is definitely simple, but unique and flavorful. EVERYthing is hand-made in front of your eyes super-fresh and a little slow. The grill is really the thing, like Lombardi's oven or countless great burgers across the U.S., the grill imbues everything it touches with so much flavor. The quesadillas are a perfect example of this, simple and small, but different and delicious, with a crunchy cheese in between, skip the chorizo. I'd recommend ordering off the menu and sticking with basic meat dishes of steak, chicken and pork with veggies, with plenty of tortillas and fresh pico de gallo or guac, rather than trying specials, though those can often be off the chain too. Also, you HAVE to try the rajas. It's all basic and incredible...as for the price, sharing a few dishes for the table usually gets everyone fed happily for under $10 a head.

Jeni said...

Taste-Buzz...You stopped by??? Sounds like you made one heck of a taco run. Hope you had other stuff goin on in SB. Looking forward to your post.

Raymond...shhh...I know.

Thanks for your comment Hadley. I appreciate LSR for so many reasons. But there really wasn't anything that really woo'd me. If I ever go back, i'll definitely try their quesadillas.

Stivel Velasquez said...

La Super-Rica is a tiny take out restaurant that has a covered patio in the back to eat your food. Fresh Mexican. Inexpensive, cash only and absolutely delicious. Admittedly, there are not exactly an abundance of local Mexicans there but certainly a big line of people waiting to order. sportsbook We tried a variety of plates. Small piece of marinated pork served over 3 hand made tortillas. The tortillas are warm, soft and delicious. A Mexican crepe. The pork is chopped up small, spicy and packs a powerful punch.


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