On the advice of a good friend of mine, Brad Paulsen, the former national sales manager for B&K Components, he told us that if we ever got to Santa Barbara that we had to have lunch or dinner at La Super Rica. He said it was the best Mexican food he's ever had.
Well, we made it Santa Barbara in May of 1999 and it is such a nice town. Beautiful homes, great ocean views, 5 star restaurants and hotels. It has a quaint downtown area with a wonderful Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. But going to La Super Rica, you have to take a step back and wonder if this is really Santa Barbara.
La Super Rica is located east of the downtown area on Milpas St. (see map) in a small building that sort of has a lean-to roof for patio seating. Lines can stretch for a long way as some waits can be up to 30 to 40 minutes just to order.
We were lucky. We got into Santa Barbara on a Friday night, got checked into our hotel, then went to La Super Rica around 9 p.m. There wasn't much of a crowd. We walked into the little ordering area and ordered up some tacos. They made the tortillas fresh on the grill, taking a ball of ground up corn dough, placing it on the grill and then flattening it with a stone block with a handle on top.
I think I ordered three tacos (they weren't that big) - two beef and one pork. Cindy got a chicken and pork taco. The meat is marinated, grilled over mesquite and seasoned lightly during cooking. It's then cut into cubes and served on the taco. Extras, such as salsa and sauces, area available in the eating area on the side of the building.
Let me just say the pork tacos were the BEST I've ever eaten in my life. I had to go back and get two more. They were unbelievable. I would crawl back to La Super Rica for a pork taco right now, they were that good.
La Super Rica isn't much to look at, there's no mariachi bands playing, no waiters or waitresses. It's pretty primitive compared to some of the restaurants in Santa Barbara, but it's damn good. Local resident Julia Child had maintained that La Super Rica was the best Mexican food she'd ever had. Somehow I can't see Julia Child in the place, but as I've learned over the years, sometimes the best food is served in the worst looking places.
I've read some user site reviews where a handful of people have literally trashed the place. But I can't imagine what they were thinking going into the place. The restaurant, itself, is nothing special. The food is excellent compared to Mexican food in most locations of the United States, but probably not as good as what you can get in the heart of Mexico. The selection is limited, but good. I highly recommend the place, especially if you're up for "slumming" in Santa Barbara.