During the July 4th holiday weekend, my wife Victoria and I were passing through Santa Barbara, California on our way home from a visit to the Santa Ynez Valley. It was lunchtime – and that meant an opportunity to introduce Victoria to a local treasure: La Super-Rica.
Wherever I go, I’m always in search of the quintessential local experience. And Vic and I love to patronize the Mom & Pop establishments rather than the franchises. So, lunching at La Super-Rica made perfect sense. It was a chance to do what Santa Barbarans do when they want to enjoy a neighborhood treat.
La Super Rica is a taqueria located in an unassuming little one-story building on the corner at 622 North Milpas Street in Santa Barbara, about 5 minutes (and a world away) from the swanky boutiques and bistros clustered in the upscale shopping district near City Hall. I don’t know how long it’s been around – but at some point the legendary foodie Julia Child anointed La Super-Rica with her gastronomic gourmet imprimatur, and long lines have been snaking out its doors ever since.
This day was no different. The line of homemade Nicaraguan taco devotees waiting to order was already quite long by the time Victoria and I arrived. Victoria saw everyone queued up in the searing mid-day heat and gave me a “this has better be worth it” look. I’d eaten at La Super-Rica once before, so I had no fear that she’d be disappointed.
As long as the line kept moving at a steady pace, I knew that culinary joy awaited us on the other end.
I already knew I was going to order a #14 — a tasty combination of cheese and chorizo that I have never experienced anywhere else.
I urged Victoria to try a #7 — a tri-tip taco with grilled peppers and onions (basically a fajita taco).
In the mood for a cold cerveza, we also ordered two Dos Equis. Like the Most Interesting Man in the World, I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Owing to the heat, we also ordered a couple of Diet Cokes. After our wait in that hot line, it was time to re-hydrate.
Once we ordered our food, it was time to negotiate two plastic seats at one of the dozen or so tables crowded into a remarkably small patio dining area for a restaurant that could easily seat twice as many patrons.
Surveying the seating situation, it was clear that some selfish scoundrels had snuck in the back door and taken seats while the rest of their party was still in line waiting to order. (That’s not cool at La Super-Rica.) Victoria let the malefactors know that their sin was obvious to all, and those of the guilty who were capable of shame slunk away and made room for those – like us — who had already ordered.
It was a Mexican standoff of sorts. No shots were fired. No one was hurt. But justice was served.
Soon after, our food was also served: steaming and delicious.
We liberally applied the hot salsa and pico de gallo – and enjoyed our spicy and tasty tacos. I could have eaten twice as much – just to keep enjoying the taste. But what we ordered was filling enough. The only problem was – it was all over too quick.