Sunday, November 1, 2009

La Super Rica

I hadn't entertained the thought of letting anyone else use this blog as a forum for opinions on the food in this town, not because I don't care what anyone else thinks, but because....well, actually it is because I don't care what anyone else thinks. But Micah cleaned out his bank account, hobbled over to Super Rica the other day, and since I can't afford to go there, I asked him to write a guest review of America's most famous taqueria, a place that I once read about as "one of the top ten restaurants in America" (some USA Today article from ten years ago, as I recall), which I always though was funny because it'd end up at the latter half of my top 10 restaurants on friggin Milpas Street. Anyways, here's Micah:

Everyone’s heard of La Super Rica. Fucking everyone. A common tale in the world of food, the taqueria’s rise to fame can be traced back to one enthusiastic review. Now, I’m a chef, and I have nothing but respect for Julia Childs. Her impact on the culinary world was profound. Shit, she’s like the Jack Lalane of cooking for millions of housewives (except she’d argue that sugar is a gift from heaven where Jack seems to think its the devil’s spawn). Her knowledge and ability in the realms of French cuisine were world class. Period. However, it kills me to see her, and to be honest any chef’s, review be the end all for things culinary. C’mon, would you choose an opera based on Snoop Dog’s review? Well, for all I know he’s an expert, but you get the point. Yes, La Super Rica is a choice place to eat. I’d rather eat there every day for the rest of my life than endure another meal at other tourist traps like Longboards or the ever changing shit-hole at Hendry’s Beach, but the never ending line out the door at the house with the aqua marine trim is sort of ridiculous.

Bridget and I are smart. We show up during the lull between late afternoon snackers and dinner rush hour traffic. Right around 5 pm on a Thursday there was, believe it or not, no line at the “worlds greatest taqueria”. We’ve got the flavor lust. That insane craving from deep inside that calls out for spice and grease. Possibly the symptom of some parasite contracted long ago with a corn and pork fetish, the cure is simple - mexican food - and our choice to treat the ailment with a solid dose of La Super Rica is not much different than requesting the name brand from a pharmacist. It was going to be more money for, well, the same thing. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What kind of stingy asshole complains about the prices at a place where many of the menu items cost less than a beer and there’s a small mexican women making tortillas by hand right behind the counter? Well this asshole; who somehow managed to spend $40 bucks on dinner for two (Actually, I didn’t have any cash, so Bridget picked up the tab - another authentic touch).

Fine fine fine. We did order 6 items and two Modelos, but this quantity is sort of necessary if one is to satiate any true craving at a place that serves most of their dishes on a postage stamp sized plate. Yes people, all those $2.75 tacos aren’t very big and there ain’t much meat falling off the sides of those homemade tortillas. I figure a Cucas burrito weighs about 15 times as much as a taco from La Super Rica, and c’mon, how often are you hungry for just a little mexican food? The larger (like 5:1 Cucas ratio) more expensive dishes like they’re specials can be as much as $7.95. That’s how much we pay for the chicken enchiladas, and I’m pretty sure that veggie tamale they’re always pimping is close to that as well, and although tasty, it’s smaller.

The food arrives and we get to work. The classics which I’d recommend to anyone; the Super Rica Special (marinated pork, peppers, cheese over tortillas) and the Pasillas with Cheese (think bubbling mass of sticky spicy goodness) are fantastic as always. The rest of the dishes taste mediocre compared to many of their competitors. Bridget ordered what is more or less the Super Rica Special with steak instead of pork. The dry meat is devoid of flavor, something that simply won’t do. The chicken enchiladas are ok - a good choice for the kids maybe. No spice in that red sauce. Fantasies of Altamarino’s mole enchiladas float through my head as I attempt to solve the situation with additional salsa roja. Its rare that chorizo fails to hit the mark, but like the steak it’s dry and uninteresting. Served alone on a tortilla, I’m anything but inspired by the taco I paid almost 3 dollars for. Lilly’s is already stealing some of the tourist traffic with all the rave reviews they continue to get from local food “authorities” like the Independent, and this dish is a good example of why. And finally, the gordita. Simply put - WTF? I’ve always loved La Super Rica beans. When you order beans at this place they’re served in a marvelous broth filled with bacon and herbs. Its simple brilliance. So I figure those same beans would be nice mashed up inside a tortilla pocket. Unfortunately something terrible happens in the process. The one small gordita’s insides have the texture of old oatmeal and somehow the mash has lost all remnants of bean flavor. This glorified tortilla also cost almost 3 dollars.

I know. I’m being a little hard on poor La Super Rica. Those poor people slaving back there all day while the glutinous gringo bitches about their authentic expression of mexican heritage. You know what? Fuck that. That line out the door is paying way more than the rent and the cost of inexpensive meat. Someone’s making some money here, I promise. And while I’m on a tirade, I’d like to point out something else. That very friendly older gentlemen that’s always working the the cash register - he speaks perfect fucking english! Yeah, no need to fumble through your order attempting to squeeze meaning out of those handful of words you’ve held onto since high school. Look behind you moron. There’s a line out the door! Besides, this practice is fairly similar to addressing a high school student like they’re in pre school. “Oh thats a good little calculus student... lemme help you with that baba.” If you can actually speak Spanish and it gets you off to order in, what may be, the fine gentlemen’s native tongue, have at it! Romanticize the shit out of him. If not, show the guy some fucking respect and use a language that you both understand. Speaking of which, I wonder how Julia Childs placed her order on that fateful day. I have this feeling she stuck to the King’s English ripe with joyous cackles. However, I may have paid extra to hear her order in Spanglish. “Me llamo Julia. Me encanto comida mexican. Yo tango number seven....”

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