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Compendium of Dishes: Super Cocina (SD)

I think Josh might be the best person to contribute to this thread. The repoitoire of dishes has been said to hoover somewhere around 100. I am interested to hear what you have sampled.

Chile Relleno
Puerco en Mole Verde
Birria de Chivo
Romeritos de Camerones
Mole Poblano
Carnitas
Puerco Enchilado (Josh's favorite I believe)

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  1. I have had the carnitas. On the one occasion I did have them, they were some of the best I've had outside of Mexico.

    If you're into gelatinous things like pigs feet, try those if they are on the menu because they are very good.

    1. I don't know the names of everything I've had. If I'm there and the person helping me is of limited English skills I get answers that are really vague. Once I was told that the dish was "chicken". When I asked for more detail, "chicken mexican food".

      I'll try though, with some kind of ranking as to how much I liked it:

      Puerco Enchilado ****
      Carnitas **
      Birria**
      Pollo en chipotle ****
      Pollo caribbeano ***
      Chicken gizzards and spinach in green sauce ***
      Chicken in mole verde w/ pumpkin seeds ****
      Chicken in red mole **
      Chiles Rellenos ***
      Fried potato cakes ***
      Huevos rancheros ***
      Huevos salseados ***
      Chilaquiles ****
      Empanadas (chicken and beef) ****
      Enchiladas rojas *****
      Enchiladas verdes ****
      Chicken and spinach (not the same as the gizzards dish) ***
      Beef stewed with corn and red sauce (mild) **
      Chicharrones *

      They don't always have the enchiladas rojas, but if they do I get them. Their enchilada sauce is really great, at least compared to others I've had around town. It's a dark red, rich and spicy with dense chile flavor.

      The Pollo Caribbeano was interesting - kind of a tangy tomato-based chicken stew with sweet flavors. The Pollo en Chipotle is always excellent, and quite spicy.

      There have been times I've sampled things I didn't totally care for. The fish stews, for example, I don't really like because the fish is too overcooked for me. The chicharron, while flavorful, are a bit too gelatinous. It seems a lot of the time there are a few dishes I'll sample that really jump out at me which I get, bypassing others that are less interesting to my palate. For example I've never ordered the caldo de res. I'm sure it's good, but it's a little bland for my taste and they have so many other vibrant options.

      1. This will be very helpful for my visit - I'm thinking about printing it and taking it with me! :-)

        1. Alice, if you are lucky you can ask for recommendations from the owner. At least I believe the middle-aged, light-skinned gentleman with good English is the proprietor. He asked if it was our first visit and was very helpful with offering tastes and suggesting dishes we might like.

          Perhaps the best way to decide is the ice-cream shop method: ask for a taste of everything. You may want to ask about the heat level of the samples if you are chile-averse.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Joseph

            That's good advice Joseph. That's what I tell anyone who's going there. Just try what they have and see what you like. Going with a list is nearly useless since the rotation varies so much. Some things are staples: the enchilado, chile relleno, pollo en mole, carnitas, menudo, and caldo de res. Everything else changes frequently.

            1. re: Josh

              do you know of the ingredients in the pollo caribbeano or the chicken gizzard, spinach dish: intrigues me greatly.

              Is the spinach in the form of a sauce? noticiable dried chiles, spices?

              1. re: kare_raisu

                Pollo caribbeano was a tomato-based sauce. Had onions, and a tangy/sweet flavor to it. Only ever saw it there once, I'm afraid. There's a younger guy who works there, often with a few days' stubble, who speaks very good English. He told me that it was a new dish from one of their cooks.

                The chicken gizzards I've seen a few times now. It's basically gizzards, spinach, onions in a tomatillo-based sauce. The dish is saucy and stew-like. The spinach appears to be whole leaves that were wilted in the sauce. The flavor is predominantly tomatillo, though the spinach adds an earthy element to the mix. It's not usually been spicy at all. I always get it because I love gizzards, and it's got a nice homey flavor to it.

                1. re: Josh

                  I bet $20 it was a Quintana Roo style guisado with carmelized onions in a tomato, achiote & sour orange based sauce.

          2. Seeing the Northgate post reminded me of my most recent visit to SC. They had three new dishes I'd never tried before. Chicken in a white wine and cilantro sauce (cream based), nopalitos and pork stew, and a Oaxacan egg dish of scrambled eggs in a rich tomato sauce. It was hard to choose, but I went with the eggs. They thoughtfully put some of the white wine/cilantro cream sauce on the rice though.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Josh

              How was this Chicken dish? Thoughts? Any clue on the name? Or just "Pollo?"

              I saw actual hard boilded eggs in a verde sauce this past time. I like the fried egg salsedos better.

              1. re: kare_raisu

                The chicken dish was very good, if a little rich. The sauce tasted great.

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  The Chicken dish sounds like something out of Queretaro... traditionally made from a white brandy that is made there.

              2. Have you ever seen tamales offered? Mamas Hot Tamale Cafe in La is a personal favorite, and i have enjoyed the regional specialities there. Seeing as Fernando employs cooks from all around mexico - I wonder if there is any tought given toward the idea. They certainly keep well .

                3 Replies
                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Never once seen tamales there. It is somewhat surprising. I wonder if they have them around Christmas?

                  1. re: Josh

                    I asked about the verdolagas last time I was at SC...not in season. Have you tried these Josh?

                    One poster posted a while back that despite traveling around Central Mexico for some time the pozole at SC is the best - can you confirm this/thoughts on the pozole?

                    You wrote the citybeat review right?

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      Have not tried verdolagas. Never heard of it before, actually.

                      I also have not tried their pozole. Oddly enough I was at dinner tonight with someone who just had their first SC experience, and it was with the pozole and the birria. He said the pozole was some of the best he'd ever had. I will definitely be trying that on my next visit.

                2. Josh, could you describe that new egg dish you were telling me about again?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    They seemed to be scrambled egg patties filled with ham and Oaxacan cheese, swimming in a tomato-chile sauce. The exterior of the egg was kind of chewy, though not unpleasantly so. I have found myself becoming a big fan of SCs egg dishes.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Those should be Tortas de Huevo... basically a Fritata although many cooks (including my dad) tend to brown the exterior... its not so bad because the sauce re-moisturizes it... but I tend to prefer no browning to it.

                      Tortas de Huevo are a very common, low cost, home dish (for those days when the Pesos don't stretch enough to buy a scrawny chicken etc.,)... as a home dish it is made in almost every combination of Mexican flavors you can think of... chorizo, moles, chile based sauces, etc.,

                  2. I went to SC for the first time on Saturday, unarmed, without reviewing this post and the dishes mentioned. Kare raisu has turned me into a birria hound, and sure enough they were serving birria de chivo. It was big meaty chunks of goat cooked to falling-off-the-bone tender, to the point that I could shred it with the plastic spoon and fork provided. It was not shredded when it was served. Instead, the sauce was very liquid, a deep mahogany red, and very flavorful. Not picante, but spicy. It was not what I'd call a broth or consomme, but it was definitely concentrated and loaded with chile. Totally unlike any birria I've had previously (I am a novice, I have to admit), but by far my favorite.

                    The other dish I had was puerco en salsa verde con verdolagas (or was it mole verde?) This was similar to the birria in terms of the appearance of the meat, in large but not unmanageable chunks that were still intact, served in a green sauce with roughly chopped greens. Again the meat was spoon tender, and the sauce was somewhat liquid, although thicker than the birria, probably due to the tomatillos. The seasoning was also spicy but not biting, and what I think was the verdolagas flavor came through clearly. Neither of these sauces was thick enough to pick up much by dipping a tortilla in it. I didn't leave any of the sauce of either dish.

                    The server Concepcion actually lit up when I started to speak Spanish, and proceeded to give me a rundown on the menu. I explained that this was my first time there, and had heard about it from friends (hi friends), and with that she treated me like an another old friend. She told me that the steam tables nearest the door, maybe 6 pans, have items that are always available. These included (I think) rice, beans, chiles rellenos, mole poblana (what meat?), and a delicious puerco en salsa roja picante with at luscious thick sauce, not too hot (I sampled that and also the mole which was very good, with a distince cinnamon taste). The longer counter holds the rotating menu items, and that's where I headed. The birria and puerco were from this table. Of the maybe 16 dishes I only remember distinctly the empanadas de papa (and a meat?) covered with crema and crumbled cheese, and the carnitas. There was a clear soup with vegetables at the end of the steam table nearest the registers. The rest was a blur.

                    As a final note, be careful when eating the birria if you have a white moustache. It will give you a chance to laugh at yourself when you look in the mirror.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Leucadian

                      Awesome to hear you had a good experience Leucadian. Super Cocina has to be one of the most unique restaurants in California if not the entire country. [I have yet to find or hear of a place even comprable in Los Angeles]

                      I think there is a dichotomy to the school of birria.

                      1.)The wet chile rub on the chivo and meat cleaver treatment.
                      Accompniment of Jugo /consomee/broth for moisting as desired. (Seems to be LA school of thought - per my visits to El Parian and wonderfully featured on Bourdain's LA show- El Chalito)

                      2.) The chivo seared, then cooked {en salsa} of the ancho, misc chile and spice paste plus broth. (My experience so far in SD - Escondido, Fallbrook, SC)

                      It may be too loose a broth, but I for some reason would love to have rice with this - but I have never seen or been offered it.

                      I had Birria for Breakfast today at Fiesta Oaxaquena. Excellent broth possessed aggressive gameyness and neccessary oil (goat fat) content. The trifecta of chile, goat and broth. There was a leaf in my soup that looked different from bay - may have been oax Hoja santa.
                      Only a few bone-in pieces of goat meat - reminded me of the mole treatment at Guelaguetza 3 or 4 pieces of meat and a pool of mole - guess who is the star of the show and who is the vehicle?

                      I have asked for verdolagas every time I have visited - but no luck - was it faintly reminicent of sorrel or watercress?

                      I had the pork in a green pepian once, really dreamy dish with rice.

                      I have always recieved a drumstick with my mole poblano but I have also seen thigh meat. The MP has a wonderful fragrance -- it lingered for a couple of days in the micro reminding me of my favorite resto.

                      The mole negro gave your moustache the same treatment at Ortiz dos. I was too afraid to tell you :D Ah ..the glory of la buena comida mexicana!

                      1. re: kare_raisu

                        Yeah, the next time I'm going to take chopsticks. And a straw.

                        I think the goat was cooked in the sauce, but very slowly and carefully so as not to shred the meat into little pieces and in so doing thicken the sauce so it can no longer be called a broth. That's the treatment I've seen around North SD County. The 'brothy' birrierias look like the broth is literally on the side, as you said, to moisten the meat al gusto. So that makes three types I think.

                        I'm not sure I have the right characterizations, but I'd say that sorrel is bitter, watercress is picante, and verdolagas is vegetal and somewhat sour. It's a garden weed called purslane in English, and grows very well around San Diego. But then any hardy native plant can easily become a weed if you don't want it.

                        I did have a great time, and I agree with you, Super Cocina is unique.

                        1. re: Leucadian

                          I'm really curious now to hear about the uniqueness of SC. I'd always put it on the back burner thinking that there were still plenty of Mexican destinations I hadn't hit yet in Los Angeles.

                          1. re: SauceSupreme

                            Pilgrimage made today - just for a light botana of two tacos.

                            One taco de Albondigas.
                            One Taco of a Tinga de Pollo con Zanahorias.

                            I really enjoyed the perfect meatballs - no chipotle presence - which to me can be sometimes too agressive for a delicate meatball. Well executed.

                            The tinga was very homey tasting and I enjoyed the perfectly tender carrot chunks.

                            I tasted some of the Chuletas de Puerco as well - eyes rolled back on this one. Next time I guess.

                            I have a theory regarding Super Cocina - I think they have two classes of dishes - the standbys -Enchilado, Mole etc & then those special appearances celebrity type dishes - Puerco en Pepian, Gizzards, verdolagas.

                            I talked with the son of the owner again today - man this guy is a treasure of Mexican history, sociology, & culture. We talked so long he even offered to heat my food up.
                            http://flickr.com/photos/98128783@N00

                            1. re: kare_raisu

                              That's funny, but I can easily imagine it. You made his day.

                          2. re: Leucadian

                            I dropped by SC the other day, and had a pork dish they called 'cebollinas'. It looked like puerco en chile verde con verdolagas, except that the verdolagas were replaced with the 5-6" pieces of green onion. When I questioned the lady at the steam table, she agreed that it was the same except for the substitution. It was pretty good, but I liked the verdolagas version better (more substance to the sauce, and more flavor). So, there's a variation, and not a seasonality issue I'm sure, because the volunteer verdolagas in my garden are doing quite well.

                          3. re: kare_raisu

                            I think the former treatment is the common Jalisco style.. while the latter would be Michoacan or Zacatecas style.

                        2. Next time you go - cross your fingers for the enchiladas verdes de Res (Green with beef). On top of my list for favorite dish here. OMG Culinary symphony- cool crema, salty cotija, tender corn, bright tomatillo sauce, rich earthy shredded beef. Fantastic.

                          I had the verdolagas con puerco for the fist time - also well worth room on your plate.
                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/98128783...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kare_raisu

                            I've only seen it there once, but the chicken enchiladas with mole poblano was unreal. The mole poblano on the enchiladas seemed much richer and more complex (almost coffee-like ) than when it served over chicken.

                          2. Why can't we have a place like that up here in SF Bay Area!!???

                            Do they have Chiles en Nogada?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Cat Chow

                              Actually.... not quite as diverse but similar concept is the taqueria in the Emeryville plaza that has all the food stands (not the mall with the chains... the other place). They have a variety of Guisados on steam tables - not sure how often they change them - but the one time I was there... they had fish fillets with onions & peppers in a creamy tomato caldillo, along with some others.

                              I asked them about Nopales or Calabacitas... they apologized and wished they could offer them ".... but they just want to order burritos". The more we ask... the more likely we are to get the good stuff.

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                I was watching check please bay area on line and one restaurant that peaked my interest was El Huarache Azteca in Oakland. They do serve Chiles en Nogada. If you pick up the latest issue of "Mexico Desconcido" they have a special article on this subject. After all September is the time to enjoy this national dish!

                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                  Hola Restaurant in Belmont and Burlingame do serve it...its the only one I know of here in the Peninsula.

                                  I actually have the excellent Mexican cookbook "Taste of Mexico" by Patricia Quintana and it has a recipie for the Chiles en Nogada, and despite my "skill" in doing Guatemalan chiles I somehow haven't felt I have the chops to properly execute the chiles en nogada. I should go for it one of these days...and channel my Mexican ancestors (I'm 1/8 Mexican on mom's side...from Toluca, to be specific). And you're right, September would be perfect!

                                2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  "The more we ask... the more likely we are to get the good stuff."

                                  This should go up in the official quotes of chowhound. Fantastic

                              2. Has anyone here asked (or maybe you just know) if Super Cocina cooks with manteca (lard) as the primary fat? I ask because I'm allergic to pork, but have been wanting to go. Some of the dishes sound so good!

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: kare_raisu

                                    Thanks kare raisu. I'm so jealous of all you pork eaters!

                                1. The carnitas at Super Cocina- oh boy oh boy oh boy- there's nothing like them. I live in NY, and went waay out of my way to Super Cocina (took the trolley/cab/foot option) and I am so glad that I did. I'll be saving this list for the next time I am in SD. Thanks again, to all who helped me, for the memories.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                                    I mentioned the presence of the whole fried canela sticks with the carnitas to Eat Nopal - he said that this is a Oaxacan practice. SC is the only place I have seen this.

                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                      Another place that does Cinammon (and Clove) tinged Carnitas is the stellar Tacomiendo in West L.A. (run by Oaxacan Mixtecs)

                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                      Naomi Wise is doing a "search" for the quintessential Mexican restaurant to replace Chilango's. She reviewed El Comal in North Park a couple of weeks ago. It's very good, I like it alot, but lacks the sophistication and finesse that Chilango's had.

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        What do you think is the closest restaurant right now to Chilangos DD? I think one of the brothers still owns the Sushi restaurant that took over

                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                          I don't think anything is particularly close to Chilangos right now. It was unique in what it did. It was casual, sophisticated, the food was usually good to very good, it wasn't quite alta cocina, but neither was it strictly traditional either. El Comal is good but lacks the same level of refinement. Chilangos filled a niche and I don't think anything has emerged that quite replaces it yet.

                                      2. re: kare_raisu

                                        Heh, funny. There are a lot of people I've suggested this place to who've never gone. Guess I'll need to wait a couple weeks before going back, now.

                                        I went back to Cocina De Maria the other night, armed w/ a nice bottle from Holiday Wine Cellars. They were totally cool with us bringing our own, though they don't have glassware to offer.

                                        1. re: Josh

                                          I have to ask you what did you have?

                                          I am coming back at the end of December hope to have some chowdowns with you both!

                                          1. re: kare_raisu

                                            I had the bisteck asada. It was awesome. I like that place a lot. Please do drop a line when you're back.

                                      3. Just when I think SC is becoming 'just ok,' they swing way the heck up back to interstellar!

                                        I've resorted to asking "What's new today?" in Spanish - which Ive found gives a much better explantation of dishes and their chile, ingredient contents.

                                        What was new yesterday were albondigas - which i have only seen one other time. The tender meatballs swim in a wonderful rich tomato sauce spiked with smokey chipotle and verdent with soft carrot chunks.

                                        Even better was the Cochinita Pibil - which I asked about wen I noticed the alluring bay leaves dotting the meat. It was cooked more in a braised style rather then the typical bannana leaf bakining.I wish they had this more often - it was citrusy and picoso - generous with nice orange wedges of habanero!

                                        But by far, the most amazing dish for me was the queso Oaxaca and Epazote Empanadas. The pairing of the two is absolute genius. The mild, rich cheese benefits so much from this intoxicating herb whose flavor is difficult to describe. Even texturally, the smooth cheese offset by supple corn masa - perfectly cooked was wonderful. And then to garnish this little piece of heaven with salty, crumbly goat cheese a drizzle of crema and chopped lettuce is just plain decadent!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                          Pipian de Puerco: Pork (and neck bones) in a bright green pumpkin seed based sauce. Order this if you see it. Its outstanding.

                                          Estofado de Pollo: Chicken stew, tomatoes, green olives. reminded me of Cacciatore. Straight forward simple.

                                          Chile Relleno: good as ever - would not hesitate to assert its qualties over any other cr in SD.

                                          There is one woman cook whose abilities I really admire for extreme delciousness, akin insofar as "Como Agua para Chocolate."

                                          1. I finally (finally!) stopped by this past weekend. We were greeted by a friendly mustachioed older man (the owner?) who showered us with samples. One little cup after another came and he even sliced up an empanada for us to try. Of the samples, the carnitas were really good, but I opted not to have that as my meal. Instead, I went with chupaderos and birria.

                                            Chupaderos (named such because you end up slurping the sauce off your fingers... chupar = to suck) was a beef stew. I'm not very good at naming cuts of beef, but I believe this was brisket. It had some tendons and fell apart along the grain due to the stewing. I think I picked up star anise and bay leaf in the sauce. It was hearty, flavorful, and not spicy at all.

                                            The birria was great and it was my first time trying goat. I love gamier meats, so goat fit my bill nicely. The broth was fragrant and I ended up sipping the last of it like a soup. I don't know if I'm supposed to do that, but it was good.

                                            My dining companions both had the spicy pork (that's the way it was described to us) and it was stewed chunks of pork with a sauce that screamed "spicy," with tons of chile pepper seeds and a red oil layer on top. They both liked it and the heat built slowly. One also ordered the empanadas, which were filled with beef and topped with crumbled cheese (Oaxacan?).

                                            I really enjoyed our visit and hopefully we'll make it back to see more of the dishes. I should really brush up on my Spanish, as it's terribly rusty and would certainly be useful in learning more about the dishes.

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: geekyfoodie

                                              Great report!

                                              It was great to find out about Chupaderos - something I have never heard/seen before.

                                              The crumbled cheese is actually "Athenos" bulk feta lol! They showed me!

                                              The mustached man is really nice - I usually see him making repairs.
                                              Thank you so much for writing SC up!

                                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                                I should thank YOU for starting this thread! While we were eating, we kept pondering what, exactly, our dishes were. The man who gave us the samples also gave us a rapid-fire description and we weren't very good at keeping up with the words and slurping the samples out of the little cups at the same time. I kept bringing up this thread, saying that we definitely need to cross-reference our dishes with the thread. I tried the birria because I'd read about it here, but had forgotten what kind of meat it was. My friend heard "goat," but wasn't sure if he had heard correctly. So, this is a valuable resource and I hope everyone keeps contributing.

                                                I should add the enchiladas were covered in salsa verde that day. I love enchiladas, but after all I had heard about the "atypical" (i.e. atypical by the Americanized Mexican standard dishes that are so prevalent) dishes, I wasn't going to stick with what I was used to. Although, reading your post above, I have the feeling I'll regret not trying them when I could.

                                                Chupaderos was really reminiscent of Bo Kho, which is a Vietnamese version of French beef ragu. Same cut of meat and similar spices. My mother makes an awesome bo kho, so the dish seemed both new and old to me.

                                                I'm sure one of the other dishes was mole poblano, but my friend declined to try it. Apparently, he's a mole fan and he said he didn't want to risk being disappointed.

                                                Not that this is news to anyone, but the prices are fantastic... it was an unholy amount of food for $6.99 and I was stuffed for the rest of the day. The accompaniments of rice, beans, and tortillas were great. We found a bay leaf in the beans, so hey, at least we know bay leaves are used to flavor the frijoles.

                                                Feta! That definitely gave me a chuckle. I was hoping for something... Mexican? My BF loves any food that's packaged in a dough wrapper, so it wasn't a surprise when he went for the empanadas. He enjoyed them. I tried the sample, but it wasn't screaming "pick me, pick me!" I was a little too preoccupied with anything that was stewed.

                                                1. re: geekyfoodie

                                                  Our mustached friend was there today at lunch - as nice as ever.
                                                  I can definitely understand not choosing the enchiladas - when faced with such other intriguing different choices.

                                                  I have never had Bo Kho - but I am glad you mentioned it because I am just getting into Viet cuisine. Can you reccomend a good restaurant that has this dish in SD?

                                                  I had the Requeson (Mexican ricotta) Empanadas today which were otherworldly. I think the empanadas are probably one of my favorite things at Cocina. There is just something so inherently delicate and beautiful about them.

                                                  Also a taco of Chicken con Espinacas - which was in a red piquant sauce and a thousand times better than the plain version we had the night Eat Nopal visited.

                                                  The brothy beans are pretty plain - but I enjoy them alot - I dont think I go here without and order of these.

                                                  I have resorted to ordering tacos and a side of beans maybe. Its cheaper and plus you get to try a lot more w/out commiting to the plate.

                                                  1. re: kare_raisu

                                                    I did notice that the empanadas were very delicate, but the filling that day was kind of blah. It was beef and not much else. Like any good dumpling-esque item, it's hard to have a good skin and a good skin usually speaks more about the cook than a good filling. I'm hoping there's empanadas with a different filling the next time I go.

                                                    So, ordering tacos means picking one dish with a side of soft tortillas? I'll have to think about that next time.

                                                    You know, I haven't really looked for Bo Kho in San Diego. My mother's version is so good that I hate risking disappointment. ;) I know that Pho T Cali on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. serves it, but I've never tried it. I'm pretty sure Phuong Trang doesn't serve it, unless I've seriously overlooked it. Phuong Trang's my go-to Vietnamese place, so I haven't branched out a whole lot in San Diego. Other places to look might be Bolsaa and Ca Dao in Mira Mesa. There's another Vietnamese place on the intersxn of Black Mtn. Rd. and Mira Mesa Blvd. that's really good, but I can't remember the name. It's in the same strip mall as the bank. If there are pictures in the menu, look for a reddish beef stew served with baguette slices. There's also a myriad of Viet places east of Super Cocina, so some of them (Saigon, maybe?) might have it. Good luck!

                                                    1. re: geekyfoodie

                                                      Chalk up the Chicken in cilantro and white wine sauce. Hauntingly amazing.

                                                      1. re: kare_raisu

                                                        Did you ask about the provenance of the dish? It sounds like it would be a typical Xalapa style dish... but I am not sure it is.

                                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                                          Kare, how often do you go? If each recent post represents a different visit, then you've been there... two to three times in the past week? I'm impressed!

                                                          Cilantro and white wine? I'm on board. I really must learn more about Mexican food. I understand that Mexican food is as diverse as Chinese food (and I am very irked by people who think orange chicken is the be-all-and-end-all of my people's food!), but I haven't been exposed to much other than the Mexican-American stuff. Any recommended reading or cookbooks to check out?

                                                          1. re: geekyfoodie

                                                            too often... :) "Solo student needs home cooking" - thats what my scribbled cardboard sign should say.

                                                            Its hard to get tired of Cocina always something new.

                                                            EN- I thought it was a pipian verde at first but I asked and was told chicken in cilantro.

                                                            As I tasted it I got that slight wine flavor and I asked - and got an affirmative "Vino blanco"

                                                            It tasted very spanish to me. I dont think there was cream in it - though it was smooth on the palate.

                                                            1. re: geekyfoodie

                                                              Any book by RIck Bayless will give you more insight into "authentic" Mexican cuisine...

                                                          2. re: geekyfoodie

                                                            "There's another Vietnamese place on the intersxn of Black Mtn. Rd. and Mira Mesa Blvd. that's really good, but I can't remember the name. It's in the same strip mall as the bank."

                                                            It's Pho Hoa Cali. Both they and their "express" branch in Rancho Bernardo serve the stew.

                                                  2. We made an 11am run to SC this morning. I had the puerco enchilado, very spicy, I've had it before. I also tried a couple things I hadn't tried before. The chile relleno was very good, I would get it again, but my favorite was a Oaxacan egg dish of scrambled eggs, chile verde sauce, avocados, oaxacan cheese, and cilantro. It was very good.

                                                    Hubby had the enchiladas with red sauce and tasty looking dish that consisted of corn, crab, and pork in a red sauce.

                                                    As usual, SC delivers, I could eat those eggs every day!

                                                    1. Vegetarian Lent dishes are available right now. Curesma.

                                                      I had a queso oaxaca stuffed mexican squash in a spongy chile relleno batter floating in a tomato caldillo. Heaven with the decidedly non veg beans. The frijoles were especially good tonight - decidedly non veg in light of the visible pieces of pork meat.

                                                      1. Was there for lunch today, and had two great new dishes (new to me, at any rate).

                                                        One was called Chupadores, which the guy told me was so-named because it was so good you'd lick your fingers clean. This was pork rib meat, in a deep red sauce. I wish I could describe the flavor better. It was moderately spiced, and very porky. Quite rich and satisfying. Photo:
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshthew...

                                                        The other was a lenten dish, which I was strongly urged to order. It was a foil pouch, which when unwrapped revealed a white fish fillet, in a cream sauce, topped with tomato, green olives, red onions, and poblano chile strips. The sauce was flecked with a generous amount of cilantro, and the aroma of white wine was unmistakeable. This is one of the best things I've had there. According to the owner's son, it's a dish from Acapulco. Photo:
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshthew...

                                                        The photo makes it look a bit more sauced than it was. Great stuff. The lenten dishes are some of my favorites they serve.

                                                        1. Wow, Josh! That fish looks outstanding! Guess I won't struggle with my Friday Lenten dishes...just make a trip down to SC! Thanks!

                                                          1. My most extraordinary visit to date!

                                                            This was my first time going to the favorite restaurant for breakfast - and I report back with pain and regret for not going for my morning ailmentos before. This visitor-in-town spurred pilgrimage - included:

                                                            For me:
                                                            -- Piernas de Pollo Almendrado: Perhaps one of the most gratifying examples of a Spanish leaning inroad into the world of Mexican cuisine. This is one of the 7 moles of Oaxaca, and is -as the name hints- of ground almond based. It tasted understandably slightly Morrocan - almost like an Indian Korma preparation. This sauce just screamed sexiness in its creamy reddish brown hues. Incredibly satisfying, rich mouthfeel, stuffed between an earthy warm tortilla.

                                                            -- Huevos Estilo Oaxaca - The most colorful, exciting to look at dish I have seen at Cocina - and despite eating it with my eyes initially, its deliciousness equalled if not superceded its attraction. Egg enrobed Oaxaca cheese, cilantro, chopped avocado in an utterly stunning sunset chile sauce. Go, go, go for breakfast! Cambia mi vida.

                                                            Visitor:

                                                            - Carnitas (his favorite mexican dish) see DD's 1st comment. No More needs to be said. I mean where else to get whole canela and clove fried Carnitas?

                                                            - CHILAQUILES VERDES - I bow down before Josh. Why had I not heeded your reccomendation earlier? Foolish me. Without a nuance of doubt in my comida mexicana obssessed mind, the most pleasing immaculate rendition that has crossed my teeth. Ay, que epazote tinged beauty, blessed with crema and crumbly feta! I am inspired to write a poem for my love of thee! It would be a beautiful thing to have a simple breakfast of these bright chilaquiles and their brothy beans which could be best likened to Harold and Maude.

                                                            Viva Super Cocina! You bring me happiness. :)

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                                              Feta???!?!?!?? Are you sure it wasn't cotija?

                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                Yes - strangely enough! When EN was here, he initially thought it was smuggled QF de Cabra from Mexico - but when we asked - the girl brought a hunk out with "ATHENOS" stamped on it. I really like the creamy goaty taste of it to the bland QF I just bought from Pancho Villa today.

                                                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                  I am not a huge fan of goat cheese, but Mexican goat cheese rocks. Totally different animal than American.

                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                    For a second there I thought it was Mexican goat cheese and was humbled by the Athenos label... when Alex came over to tell us it was Feta... I even said something like yeah but I bet its no crappy Athenos.... then I saw the label, and the big 5 pound, institutional bag =)

                                                                    For some reason that version of Athenos is very supple & creamy with good goat tang... whereas the stuff they sell at the supermarket chains is dryish & bland???

                                                                    You are in that biz... can institutional bulk ingredients consist of better quality than their Consumer Packaged Good siblings?

                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                      Certainly there can be different between commercial and retail products. I think this would be most likely to occur if the formulations were different for the products, and different formulas might be required for different packaging types, handling, distribution and final use.

                                                                      A product that I can think of off the top of my head that is a pretty good example of this would be Campbell's soups. What is available to the consumer is soup in the highly recognizable red and white can. While some cans are available in a food service pack, the bulk of the soups available come frozen. Most of the frozen soups mirror the canned soups but the end product is far better. There is wider, more interesting selection available that consumers don't even know about.

                                                                      Who knows how Athenos makes their cheeses and how they designate which batch/lot goes into which packaging and market. I am not a big fan of goat cheese, let me qualify that, American goat cheese. It is too pungent and bitter for my taste, which with this item, I fear is in the minority. I do, however, really like Mexican goat cheese, which I find to be more tangy than pungent and much milder (which I think is a product of their grazing and feeding habits). I'm not convinced that feta is a one-to-one substitution for Mexican goat cheese, but I would say that it probably is more similar in level of tanginess and bite than is most American goat cheese. I really like cheese but not American goat cheese, I give that stuff a w-i-d-e berth. I love good feta and can easily tolerate Mexican goat cheese.

                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                        Dear DD,

                                                                        Re Mexican goat cheese vs. American, yes, yes and yes.

                                                                        American goat cheese - chalky, check. American goat cheese -bitter, check. American goat cheese - too pungent, check.

                                                                        I'm looking at two packages of Chateau Blanc goat cheese, one plain and one covered in ash. They are tightly sealed in 200g logs. Despite the heavy commercial packaging, when you cut it and let the cheese breathe - they spread well and the flavors are rich and satisfying.

                                                                        I buy this cheese at the Comercial Mexicana in Rosarito.

                                                                        1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                          This seems a bit too general, IMO. I've has some really good American goat cheese that was neither bitter, chalky, nor pungent.

                                                                          Redwood Hill Farm goat cheeses are amazing. The ones in the tubs are incredibly mild, creamy, and sweet. Think Chavrie with superior flavor and texture.

                                                              2. re: kare_raisu

                                                                Yeah man, their chilaquiles are bomb. Glad you enjoyed them. They give you too much, but it's still very good.

                                                              3. I had the Menudo this morning. It was awesome. Whole leaves of epazote. Amazing broth. Dreaming of it still....

                                                                1. Some interesting fare was to definitely to be had today for lunch in in light of good friday or 'viernes santa.'

                                                                  I had a dish of juicy chicken thighs in a deeply dew forest evoking mushroom cream sauce. It tasted of a dish that we prepared after wild mushroom picking during autumn in the forests of Brandenburg, Germany. Apparently it is a dish that originates from around the capital of he Mexican republic. It seemed to me that they had pureed some of the fungi with the crema and chiles then add some whole sauteed. Hopefully, our chilango friend Eat Nopal assistes with the provenance of this muddy-hued Pollo con hongos.

                                                                  I have to say that I was really pleasantly surprised with my second choice, a nod to the holy day. These were the Tortitas de Camaron con Nopales [dried shrimp pattys in a brick red chile sauce with cactus]. The times previous I gave this dish a go - I was near dessicated by the levels of sodium. This texturally addicting rendition had the balance I craved. The tortitas were like puffy lighter than air frittatas that sponged up the tomato-cut chile sauce and whose softness contrasted with some of the most perfectly cooked nopal cactus I've eaten. Who would have thought dried shrimp and bright nopal would work so well together.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                    Hey KR...

                                                                    I think I have posted about Mushrooms in Mexican cooking here on Chowhound in the past. What can I say.... the areas just North of Mexico City... from the Purepecha Highlands in the West going east through Toluca & the mountain villages of Mexico State... is serious Mushroom country... even in the Pacific Northwest which is suppossed to be prime 'Shroom country in the U.S. I have not seen anywhere close to the variety of 'Shrooms you find in the Anahuac... Oysters, Lobsters, Cepes, Dog Ears, Elotes... throughout the season from Early Spring to Early Autumn there are dozens that come to market (the most interesting being sold by the impromptu "Marias" outside the regular Mercados... or at specialty Mercados like San Juan in D.F.).... its not uncommen to find Restaurantes Campestres that only specialize in Mushrooms typically offering 20 to 50 different preparations... everything from Moles, Tamales, Pozoles, Birrias etc., all featuring Mushrooms as the main ingredient.

                                                                    Pureed Mushrooms (either with Corn "cream" or with Dairy cream, herbs, chiles etc.,) is a common base in many dishes... Chicken is considered a good pairing.

                                                                    The dish you described is typical of a late summer dish that might show up in alot of Fondas around Mexico City.

                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                      wow...the idea that it is simply a "typical of a late summer dish that might show up in alot of Fondas around Mexico City'' compounds my amazment of the beauty that is Mexico.

                                                                      Interesting what you say about the corn "cream" - can you pull up a spanish recipe that uses this tecnique?

                                                                      1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                        Here is one: http://www.esmas.com/mujer/cocina/sop...

                                                                        The corn cream is really.... its just corn kernels cooked with a little bit of water or milk.... ground up, strained & cooked down with a tiny bit of starch.

                                                                  2. I finally made it out to Super Cocina during daylight hours... and had a very pleasant meal with Kare_R & hermana... which started out with a quick stop at Fruitilandia... I highly endorse the Cebada (Barley) Agua Fresca... its nutty & carmelly, not too sweet really reminds you of cereal milk.

                                                                    Second... seeing University Heights for the first time... I think anybody who has reservations about the neighborhood is completely wacko and needs some real life experiences.

                                                                    Third the food was fantastic! I had the Caldo (asked to hold the beef)... all the vegetables where succulent (if mushy)... they tasted the like the vegetable only acceneted by the beef broth. This was follow by 3 Tacos de Guisado:

                                                                    > Chicken Thighs & Cilantro-White Wine
                                                                    > Beef Tongue with Greens & Piquillo or Pimiento Peppers all braised in Salsa Verde
                                                                    > Pork Ribs braised in Arbol Chile Sauce (the everday spicy pork)

                                                                    All were fantastic in their own way... $ for $ its challenging to find more competently prepared food with sophisticated flavor layering.

                                                                    Their Flan Napolitano is just okay... nothing I would be compelled to try again.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                      EN -I think your note about the price point for such a level of food is right on. I love that you can go there everyday of the week and experience something new.

                                                                      Juan Pablo mentioned his Poblana great grandmother's tanned with age handwritten recipe booklet that many of the recipes are culled from last time I met him. High level of (historical even) cuisine indeed.

                                                                      As always it is a pleasure to dine with my friend EN and I was overjoyed that Super Cocina performed in its true form on this occasion.

                                                                      I have trouble not ordering the cilantro wine chicken when available as I am in love with it paired with the soupy frijoles. Bright against earthy.
                                                                      Also had huevos estrellados (over easy eggs) in a herb laced chile sauce.

                                                                      My sister got the chilaquiles and Puerco enchilado. I was really happy that I got to finish off what of the PE she couldnt muster. Its been a long time since I had the dish Cocina is most famous for and I re-realized why. There is beauty in the flavorful spiciness cutting the richness of pork riblets that are perfectly tender.

                                                                      The chilaquiles were much more softer than the carnitas like textured ones on previous breakfasts. This was because we came at late breakfast time, I suspect. Still, that goat cheese, tomatillo, fried corn strips...man.

                                                                      1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                        I uploaded some pictures finally of our last visit:
                                                                        Check em out: http://flickr.com/photos/22362067@N06/

                                                                    2. Red Enchiladas are an unoverthought prefection.A sunset colored tomato sauce made of fresh, light tomatoes balanced with a tingling of guajillo chile. Topped with feta cheese, crema and sweet red onion slivers.

                                                                      1. Menudo this morning, early. Out of this world. The scent, the taste, the three different textures of tripe and nixtamal. & the tortillas have been so much better since the switch.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Leucadian

                                                                            They were using meh tortillas before -these are white corn supple and have a good chew.

                                                                            Time for you to get back the SC stranger!

                                                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                              Yeah, every time I go out I'm a little stranger. I was pulling verdolagas in the front yard the other day, and thought of the puerco con verdolagas at SC. See what I mean? The Mexican worker with me promised to give me a recipe for sopa de pollo con verdolagas next time he comes. He's from Oaxaca. Mmmm.

                                                                              1. re: Leucadian

                                                                                Oh, by stranger I meant I hadnt seen any posts from you in a long time!

                                                                                That soups sound killer

                                                                        1. Go get the Pollo en Salsa de Siete Chiles! It even does not need meat at all - just give me the sauce and tortillas! ah!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                            I was there on Sun. too and had this for lunch. It was a nice dish. I had that and the cochinita pibil. Lately I've had trouble picking just two dishes. I'm torn between craving the usuals like chilaquiles or enchiladas and trying the daily specials.

                                                                          2. I stopped by for lunch yesterday and got to try some dishes I hadn't seen before. The gentleman working there was of course handing me samples as fast as I could try them and telling me about each dish and where they were from. They had picadillo in the style of the capital, but I ended up getting two other new (at least for me) dishes. They had tuna fillets in chipotle sauce. This dish was so good, the sauce was kind of creamy and rich. He said that his friend is a fisherman and he gets him nice pieces of fish for the restaurant. I also had a a chicken dish from Veracruz that was awesome. It was in a rich red sauce (not spicy) with a medicinal leaf and green beans. I can't remember the name of the leaf, but he said that its good for making skinny people fill out and that there was a salsa song written about the leaf. It's so cool that they sometimes take the time to tell you about the dishes there. A reminder of why this is one of my favorite places in SD.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: jasont

                                                                              Damn! I shall ask about these dishes next time. Cocina continues to amaze...

                                                                            2. Jason, was the herb you were trying to think of Epazote? It is used a lot in traditional Mexican dishes.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: LisaSD

                                                                                More likely it was something like herba santa, herba buena, avocado leaf (don't use the leaves off of local avocado trees, they're not the same species) or possibly a type of sour grass that's occasionally used in sauces and depending upon where the origins of the dish actually lie. Mexican cuisine makes phenomenal use of botanicals.

                                                                                1. re: LisaSD

                                                                                  No, it wasn't epazote, I'm familiar with that. Good idea though. I was told the name, but I can't remember it at all.

                                                                                2. been eating here for lunch quite a bit past couple of weeks so I thought i would update some dishes.

                                                                                  I made a combo out of chilaquiles verdes and lengua ranchera one late morning. Thats about as close as a death row meal I'm gonna get.

                                                                                  Decided to make an order one morning of huevos rancheros - which I challenge anyone to top in SD county. Also with some bistec in a green and nopales sauce - big smiles.

                                                                                  Did gizzards with spinach and moorish tasting almendrado of chicken the other day.

                                                                                  1. In case you want to do some Super Cocina reading, aqui tiene: http://sandiegonewsservice.com/?p=135

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                                      Glad to see this epic post has some follow through.

                                                                                      1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                                        “I was impressed by the freshness of all the food here,” said John’s wife, Elizabeth, 35. “Everything had that fresh quality of being preapred on the same day.”

                                                                                        That sums up why spread out, suburb dominated communities like SD get a bad wrap on the restaurant culture.... like omg somthing cooked on the same day! You can tell even the clueless know its not the Taco Shop standard in SD.

                                                                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                                          How nice that they "discovered" it. :P

                                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                                              I am impressed... that was very well written... particularly considering that was 4 years ago. I hope you keep writing.

                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                I'm sure some time soon, they''ll be "discovering" Mariscos German or Aqui Es Texcoco.
                                                                                                *smirk*

                                                                                            2. I have to add a new one they've had lately: Lengua in Pipian made with walnuts.
                                                                                              I found this dish to be rich but not heavy and incredibly comforting.

                                                                                              I also learned that one of my favorites the enchiladas en mole can be made to order at anytime. I used to always go in hoping they would have them prepared and rarely find them. It's nice to know I can order them whenever I want.

                                                                                              1. Juan Pablo brought over some of the Super Kitchen's antojitos today. The Taco dorado was ethereal -crispy shell with homey shredded beef colorado, and delicate lettuce, crema and cotija dressing. What a way to start off this summeresque day in SD.

                                                                                                1. The other day I tried a sample of a stew of poblano peppers and potatoes with - I think this is what Juan Pablo told me - crema rajas? Has anyone else had this dish here? It is SO good. I could eat it morning noon and night, seriously.

                                                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Shannon

                                                                                                    Rajas con crema is a well known way to prepare poblano chiles and it is absolutely delicious. If what you had was rajas con crema with the addition of potatoes that would probably be pretty darn close to culinary nirvana...at least for me.

                                                                                                    Rajas con crema is made by charring the poblanos, then skinning and cutting into strip. Saute off some sliced white onion with a smidge of garlic, tossing in the chile strips and hitting the whole thing with Mexican crema. Add potatoes to that and you've hit the jackpot.

                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                      That sounds completely evil and I must have some immediately.

                                                                                                      1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                        You and me both. Doesnt' that sound divine. Rajas con crema is really good as a "sauce" over a naked chicken breast too ;-)

                                                                                                      2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                        Wow. Thanks so much for this Diva. I will try to make this at home. Definitely try to get some at Super Cocina, I can't stop thinking about it! We are having a (belated) holiday party Sunday and Super Cocina is catering - I had to order this - can't wait.

                                                                                                        1. re: Shannon

                                                                                                          When we approached them about doing vegetarian dishes for our wedding this was one of the dishes we sampled. It was excellent, I think you'll be pleased.

                                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                              Actually no, we didn't. We already had three of the four things we wanted to offer picked, and we wanted to go with something milder for the fourth option. We were somewhat nervous about how the food would be received, but there were barely any leftovers.

                                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                If SC did a lot of the catering I'm not surprised you didn't have much in the way of leftovers. Congratulations, btw :-)

                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                  Thanks! They did all the catering, except for dessert which we did through Eclipse. It was a foodie wedding for sure. :-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                    Do they do a lot of catering? May I ask what venue allowed them as caterers?

                                                                                                                    1. re: jturtle

                                                                                                                      Yes, they do a lot of catering. We had our reception at Marina Village, which allows any caterer, and gives you total freedom with alcohol. This allowed us to serve good beer, too.

                                                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                          On draught we had Hofbrau Oktoberfest (which is a light, wheat-based lager), and AleSmith Li'l Devil. For our toast we had Lindemans Framboise instead of champagne.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                            We got a 5 gal of Lil Devil for our baby shower and it went over great. When people say that good beer cant also be crowd pleasing, I think of beers like Lil Devil and chuckle.

                                                                                                                2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                  I'm also using them to cater a big party (70 or so people) in March. One of the things I am a little worried about is the heat level in some of these dishes because a lot of these people will be from other parts of the country. I guess if we go for stuff like chicken mole and chilaquiles we should be OK. Did you have any complaints about the heat level at your wedding, Josh?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Shannon

                                                                                                                    No, the heat level was fine. If you tell Juan Pablo about it they will ratchet it down some. Everyone loved the food.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                      Great to know. Thanks for the information,

                                                                                                        2. re: Shannon

                                                                                                          I also tried this dish the other day. It was really good. My veggie GF was so excited they had it and I hope they continue to increase the meatless options.
                                                                                                          Recently she also had them put the sauce from the pollo en cilantro on top of cheese enchiladas and it was out of this world.

                                                                                                          1. re: jasont

                                                                                                            I bet it was good. Cilantro is a good flavor match with cheese and corn.

                                                                                                            I think most people don't realize how different and versatile Mexican sauces really are. Mexican sauces are not based on butter, oil, roux or cream. They're essentially made from chiles and vegetables/greens (sometimes fruit) with nuts, seeds or corn (as in corn tortillas) used as the thickener. There may be a frying component to the sauce making, but it is typically not a lot and not the foundation on which the sauce is based.

                                                                                                            1. re: jasont

                                                                                                              The pollo in cilantro cream sauce is so good, I popped my vegetarian cherry on it after 25 years ... And don't regret it for a moment.