Humble La Super-Rica Taqueria is the American Riviera's most famous restaurant.
The most famous restaurant in Santa Barbara isn’t along the ocean, doesn’t offer table service and sports a glaring aqua roof shaped like a Wall Street earnings graph. This is all part of the charm of La Super-Rica, a family-run restaurant that produces some of the best Mexican food in Southern California.
Jalisco native Isidoro Gonzalez opened La Super-Rica in 1980. Santa Barbara resident Julia Child was a vocal fan by the mid ’80s, and a legend was born soon after. Over 20 years later, La Super-Rica is still going strong.
La Super-Rica keeps things simple. They offer a blackboard menu that lists only 20 dishes, all revolving around beef, pork, chicken, chorizo or vegetables. There’s a smaller blackboard sporting a couple Daily Specials, on this day tacos and a vegetarian tamale. One thing you shouldn’t expect to find at La Super-Rica: seafood.
Through the window, we could spot a woman hand-pressing and grilling fresh corn tortillas. Not many Mexican restaurants are as committed to freshness and quality.
Super-Rica Especial ($6.80) consisted of chunks of roasted pasilla chile tossed with crusty mangles of spice-marinated pork and gooey cheese, then piled on a stack of corn tortillas. The smoky mix was basically a deconstructed chile relleno, only easier to eat, with incredible flavor.
Alambre de Filete ($5.80) was nearly as sensational, a stir-fry of juicy tri-tip, green bell peppers, onions and bacon. Onions were practically caramelized and infused with juices from the beef and bacon.
Tacos de Calabacita – a daily special – featured tender sautéed zucchini with crumbled marinated pork, blanketed with zesty herb-filled tomato sauce.
Frijol Super-Rica ($2.55) involved stewed pinto beans flavored with chorizo cubes, bacon strips and pasilla chile flecks.
The salsa bar offered bottomless containers of spicy red salsa, tangy green salsa and fresh-made pico de gallo. At La Super-Rica, they don’t strain seeds, so expect some spice.
While there’s some really good Mexican food in Los Angeles, it’s still worth driving 180 miles round trip to experience La Super-Rica at least once.