La Super-Rica, Santa Barbara

March 14, 2011

Julia Child enjoyed eating at La Super-Rica when she lived her last years in nearby Montecito, California.

This taqueria has acquired a cult status among her fans; the wait in line to order can be over an hour during the busy season, but there were only three in front of us when Linda and I went for lunch at 11:15 on Tuesday, March 1, 2011.

We barely had enough time to consider the twenty regular dishes on the big board just inside the entry and the five daily specials posted just above the window for ordering. The system is quite simple. You order by the item numbers shown on the blackboard; you pay in cash at the window and wait for the number on your receipt to be called.

You collect your food and drinks at the window from the kitchen into the terrace dining area, covered and heated in this cool season. To the left of the window you can see the metal bin with the four salsas offered. You spoon your choices into little plastic cups.

Here you can see our entire lunch; cups of salsa in the upper right:

The individual dishes were:

Tacos de Bistec.
Tender strips of grilled steak served on two homemade tortillas

The beef was indeed tender and nicely charred, but it needed flavor help from a salsa. The two tortillas which came under it were fresh and surprisingly soft. It was easy to form the taco, but less easy to hold it together with the filling when eating it.
Tacos de Adobada.
Strips of marinated pork steak served on two homemade tortillas.
 (photo above right)
The marinade gave these a good Mexican flavor; they needed no further saucing.

Frijol Super-Rica.
Cooked pinto beans with chorizo, bacon and chile w/2 corn tortillas

The beans were good, cooked to the right firmness, with the flavors nicely balanced. (We used the two foil-wrapped corn tortillas which came with them to make third tacos of the beef and pork.)

Tamal de verduras
Vegetable tamal filled w/chayote, corn, zucchini, potato, chile pastille strips, cheese. Topped w/a cream sauce.

This was very enjoyable with the crispness of the corn kernels contrasting with the mashed vegetables.

I had a Corona beer and Linda had an A&W root beer.

When we left at 11:45, the line was already extending out the door.

We enjoyed our lunch, but it is not the fine culinary experience that one might think of associated with Julia Child. It is an excellent place to have a light, quick (at the right times), inexpensive lunch that is much better and much healthier than the normal California casual lunch. I don’t have enough experience with taquerias to know if La Super-Rica is uniquely better than most, but the line of local customers makes me think it is. I imagine that the experience gets better with familiarity. It is clear that the ingredients are fresh and good. I wish we had such a place in our neighborhoods. 

One Response to “La Super-Rica, Santa Barbara”

  1. Sally Says:

    I’ve been a fan of Super Rica for about ten years and have been known to make a special trip from the Valley. Not “fine dining” by any means – just good and fresh and fun.

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