It was 10:35AM when my friends and I arrive Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. The weather was spectacular and the streets were seemly bare from traffic. I reckon that everyone was still asleep for a Saturday morning. My friends stop into a thrift shop to do a little window shopping while I ditched them to head straight towards La Super-Rica Taqueria; my favorite taco joint.
I have many vivid memories dining at La Super-Rica Taqueria since my very first time in 2009. My friends and I discovered the place after debating what we’re going to eat before heading for the California Wine Festival at Chase Palm Park. The dining choices at the time were Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s, or donuts. With my trusty Blackberry in hand, I searched for a decent restaurant for us to sit down and relax after a long 80 mile drive along the Pacific Coast. I immediately found many internet ramblings about La Super-Rica Taqueria. As it turns out, legend has it that La Super-Rica Taqueria was a taco destination of famed TV cooking personality, Julia Child. Oh heck, if Julia Child loves their tacos, then my friends and I would also love them. As it turns out, La Super-Rica Taqueria has since been our taco destination in Santa Barbara too.
Like always, I was the first inside La Super-Rica Taqueria. It had to have been about 10:37AM when the cook saw me and gave me a wink for being the first customer. Within minutes, a couple of patrons stood next to me in line. Within ten minutes, the line was outside the door and around the building. It was no surprise to me that there would be a long line before the restaurant opens at 11:00AM. The lines are always long yet it’s worth the wait for their tasty tacos and tamales. La Super-Rica Taqueria doesn’t specialize in any one region of Mexican cuisine. They choose the best dishes and make it fresh with local ingredients. According to Saveur Magazine’s Jeff Belton, “…they’ve got dishes from all over Mexico, such as Mexico City-style pasilla chiles filled with melted cheese and grilled chicken or pork or vegetables.” Oh yes, it’s all good, especially the fluffy homemade corn tortillas, which makes the tacos so much more wonderful.
The basic staples like the Taco de Adobado and the Taco de Chorizo are the “go to” choices if you’re new to dining at La Super-Rica Taqueria. The tortillas are always piled high with the meats so you won’t be disappointed with the portions. Top these tacos with the spicy red sauce or fresh Pico de Gallo salsa for the added zest.
The Tacos de Calabracita is a stewed taco. Coincidentally, it’s not a vegetarian taco as the zucchini is served with thinly sliced marinated pork. The cream sauce, however, is amazingly delicious. Skip the salsas. This taco is best eaten as-is.
The Taco de Hongo is also a stewed taco and it’s impeccably good too. This taco is also not 100% vegetarian, because I was quick to taste bacon fat for the added richness to the mushrooms.
Another “must try” on the menu is the La Super-Rica’s Chiappas-style tamale. The Chiappaneco de Pollo Tamal is a fascinating yet highly complex dish. It’s a basically a chicken mole stuffed in a corn masa. The tamal is then cooked in a banana leaf to infuse an earthier flavor. Traditional Mexican mole sauces are known for being made with more than 20 ingredients like cocoa, a conglomerate of Latino spices, and various fruits and nuts. The mole sauce for the Chiappaneco de Pollo Tamal is made no differently. My favorite part of eating this dish is finding all the little treasures hidden inside the mole like raisins, figs, plantains, and almonds. This particular tamale dish transcends all the others that I’ve tasted in my life time. It’s so incredible.
La Super-Rica Taqueria is a small, counter-style restaurant. Don’t expect fancy decor or a wait staff. Do expect to place your orders from the window and wait for your order number to be called. The prices per dish ranges between $2.50 to $7.00. You will find many wonderful dishes to try from the menu like all the tacos especially the Sopes and the Agua Frescas. They also have many specials that rotate on a regular basis. The staff are friendly and warm, and you’ll find, like I did, that they put a lot of tender loving care into making the best affordable Mexican Cuisine. So, if and when you are ever in the vicinity of the Santa Barbara area for a day trip or for a pit stop en route to another locale, I suggest dining at La Super-Rica Taqueria. Like me, you may find La Super-Rica Taqueria to be your destination for great tacos in Santa Barbara.