Dose of Vitamin P: Los Agaves Cochinita Pibil
600 North Milpas Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
805 564 2626
Sure, La Super-Rica has been the go-to Santa Barbara taqueria since 1980, but there are other Mexican restaurants right on Milpas Street that offer viable alternatives. Less than a block away, Los Agaves is a vibrant restaurant with mottled yellow walls, a painting that depicts a jimador harvesting agave piñas, and a jam-packed specials board. Chef Ricardo Garcia hails from Guadalajara, and he runs the restaurant with childhood friend Carlos Luna, though they don’t stick to the cuisine of Jalisco. The business partners feature dishes from Baja, Veracruz, and the Yucatan, including this week’s Dose of Vitamin P: Cochinita Pibil.
For this dish ($14.95), pork shoulder bathes in citrus juice and guajillo adobo and slow cooks until the chunks form savory, pull apart shreds. It was surprising to see the pork is a sizzling skillet, which runs the risk of drying out the meat, though we didn’t give the pig enough time to rest for that to happen. However, there was a healthy crust that formed at the edges, which provided a nice contrast to the tangy coat of pickled onion strands and side of soft house-made corn tortillas. The plate also hosted a crimped tostada shell cup that held earthy black beans, and another shell that contained pibil’s natural companion, a rough cut habanero-spiked salsa that contributed punch that further helps to subdue the rich pork.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.