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SuperMex: Need a Description

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There's a thread on the Southwest board: someone is looking for a place in Arizona that's like SuperMex in the OC, Long Beach area, and others:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/382095

Problem is, with only a couple of exceptions, no one (including me) knows what SuperMex is like. Could the LA area CHers help them out with a description of SuperMex, perhaps focusing on what makes it different than other Mexican places?

Here are some of the descriptive options HomeCookKristen put out there as options on that thread:

"Is SuperMex most like late-night drunk Mexican, drive-through greasy Mexican, Gringo-but-good Mexican (lots of white meat chicken, tomato based salsas that are very mild, etc.), order-at-the-counter California Fresh/Healthy Mexican, hole-in-the-wall Mexican, authentic Mexican, seafood Mexican, spicy Mexican, green chili New Mexican, etc.?"

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  1. I'm from the Southwest board. I guess I should have been more descriptive in my posts. It would have to be "Gringo-but-good Mexican" according to the above descriptions. One plate I really liked there was the ground beef enchiladas. What made them different was that they put little diced potatoes in with the ground beef. I've never had an enchilada like that before. Another thing was the refried beans were unusually runny, but I liked them just the same.

    17 Replies
    1. re: jasonaz

      Super Mex can be described as mediocre Mexican food that falls in the "gringo" but not very good category...nothing special here

      1. re: jasonaz

        I live in SoCal and regularly go to SuperMex at least once a month, but I don't know if I know the different styles of Mexican food well enough to describe it.

        I also think the "Gringo-but-good Mexican" is probably the most accurate description of SuperMex. The tacos have the deep-fried crispy hard shells instead of soft tortillas, so it's not really authentic. They also tend to serve guacamole and sour cream on the side for things like enchiladas and burritos. Things like rice and lettuce are added to some of the burritos. The meat options are ground beef, carne asada, shredded beef, chicken, green chile pork, and carnitas.

        The food is not overly greasy, nor is it healthy Mexican, but right in the middle.

        Here is a web link to their site so that you can check out their menu:

        www.supermex.com

        I tend to use SuperMex as my standard barometer to compare other Mexican food. If it's better than SuperMex, I'll go back. If it's not, I won't.

        1. re: Wonginator

          But what are your thoughts of SuperMex...do you still go there and what are its standout dishes...I have been twice and have been underwhelmed both times.I felt the food and service was lacking in gusto....there must be better Mexican food to be had in Irvine...hopefully Taco Rosa,which should be opening any day,will step up and fill the void.

          1. re: stormin norman

            I still go to SuperMex at least once a month. I think they have some of the best enchiladas in SoCal. I've always been underwhelmed at most other places when I've ordered enchiladas. The way that SuperMex does it is exactly what I'm looking for. Also enjoy their wet-style Super Burritos, which is almost like eating a giant enchilada.

            I haven't been to Taco Rosa in Newport yet, and read some mixed reviews about it. I've visited Taco Mesa a few times and don't understand the hype about that place. Maybe the new Taco Rosa in Irvine will be better.

            1. re: Wonginator

              The Taco Rosa in Irvine (Jamboree), is opening on Monday, according to ChristianZ who attended a sneak preview yesterday.

              http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

              1. re: Wonginator

                I know its a bit out of the way,but have you tried Nancy Puebla,now called Guerros,in Santa Ana.Everything I have had there,especially the mole dishes,have been exceptional...I suspect the enchiladas would be quite good there ,as well.

                1. re: stormin norman

                  I have Nancy Puebla on my list of places to try, but haven't been there yet. I'm moving it to the top of my list. Thanks for letting me know about the name change. Did that happen recently?

                  I'm always looking for places that have good enchiladas.

                  1. re: Wonginator

                    During my last visit about a month ago,the new owner said that the previous owner just left recently and is cooking somewhwre in the inland empire.The new owners thankfully kept everything the same ,including the menu and recipes.

            2. re: Wonginator

              Yup, I agree with the discription. Heavy on the Pasty Beans, Canned Enchilada sauce and the shredded cheese. Their Super Nachos were a favorite indulgence when I lived down the street from one.

              --Dommy!

              1. re: Dommy

                So,Is that a good or bad thing?Sounds as though you were not overly impressed by the food quality?I would tend to agree with your assessment...found it to be somewhat bland and generic.

                1. re: stormin norman

                  Well, as other posters mentioned, it depends on your POV. As I mentioned, for me it was an INDULGENCE. Something greasy, tasty and heavy that at least I knew they were using real cheese and made their own beans. However, for a real WOW mexican food experience. You just aren't going to get it here...

                  --Dommy!

            3. re: jasonaz

              I wouldn't necessarily call it "Gringo"--while there's stuff on the menu that are "gringofied" one can find things like cocido (yum!) which is def not in that category. But for the most part, I guess it could be described as consisting of stuff slathered in red sauce and cheese, hard-shell tacos, and creamy refried beans. Actually, the offerings at SM are pretty darn close to the kind of mexican food I grew up on at home (and I'm mexican-american), things my nanas used to cook. Don't get me wrong, I love the variety of Mexican food to be had in socal. But when I first moved here from az 14+ yrs ago and felt homesick, SM was my go-to place...and still is!

              1. re: tachis

                Would Mexican comfort food be a more apt description?

                1. re: stormin norman

                  I think of it as comfort food. It's one of those places to go when you're exhausted, and you just want a fast beer and some tacos or a burrito. It's Sonoran in style, and very consistent. Like tachis above says, they've got cocido, which ain't Gringo, but then again, they've got fajitas, which definitely says Gringo to me. The Supermex burritos are huge, and will fill up a 6'3" teenage boy with no problem. Lots of cheese, basic meat selection, good refried beans, so so rice. The salsa is average, and every now and then, I get a craving for it.

                  1. re: stormin norman

                    It depends on what kind of Mexican food one grew up with. For me, it's most def comfort food. But I have mex-am friends who grew up in other parts of the southwest and whose families originated in other parts of Mexico than mine who do not feel nearly as enamored of SuperMex as I and would not consider it comfort food.

                    1. re: tachis

                      Thanks for the explanation...are there any other Mexican food restaurants in the area that you also enjoy?

                    2. re: stormin norman

                      honestly, i'd call it mexican uncomfort. i don't know what it is--the food doesn't taste all that horrible (it's not good, mind you), but it is the one restaurant i've gone to that consistently gives me horrible heartburn.

                2. SuperMex for me is like places I used to frequent fondly in college: Cheap, consistent, plentiful food, familiar and perfect for preparing for all-night paper-writing sessions or for Really Tying One On later that evening. You see a lot of the Cal State Long Beach crowd in the Belmont Shore branch, for example, as well as the party-hearty guys heading to the bars in the area. SuperMex offers user-friendly Mexican food--not inspirational, but the elements are there and they make it with heart and soul.

                  I don't do there nearly as much as I used to when I lived in Belmont Shore (and then Belmont Heights). I went recently and enjoyed it, but my favorite places are still Enrique's (awesome place) and Baja Sonora (the latter mainly for its proximity to my house in East LB, but the food IS quite good).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                    Yeah, it's going to be a year since I moved out of LB... I don't miss SuperMex at all... I DO miss Enriques...

                    --Dommy!

                  2. It's LAMex, so you probably won't find one in Arizona. The Mexican food everyone ate in the 1970's before it all had to be so fish taco and mole "authentic." I think it was best known in Long Beach as the only good place to eat downtown when one was on jury duty. Now there are a bunch of outlets all over the place.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mlgb

                      As usual, mlgb nailed it! That's a good way to describe it, actually.

                      1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                        that is a very good description. it kind of reminds me of long beach's version of el coyote [shudder].

                    2. I've lost log-ins to chowhound repeatedly for almost 10 years now but I had to add to this thread as SuperMex is sort of like a member of my family...It has grown to become comfort food in my own life for sure. (even if some of the newer locations serve appallingly tiny portions of rice and beans....)

                      As an "almost original" Super Mex patron I needed to say my speak. Super Mex's "personality" or ambiance has changed alot in the 20ish years I've been a fan for sure. The many above descriptions of "Gringo-but-good Mexican" , imho, describes the current ambiance and personality of the restaurant itself. It does not describe the taste of the food though. Super Mex's FOOD, for most part (so far----knock on wood) has stayed true to it's roots and their humble beginnings were purely Hole in The Wall.

                      The original Super Mex (#1) in downtown LB was an itty bitty space, that was a fraction of what it is now, which is the almost entire block. I'm pretty sure the Jr. Mex take out room at that location is the actual space where the original place stood for years and it was for sure that tiny size.

                      Over these years they've expanded, down the block and around town and into Huntington Beach and parts of orange county. They are now everywhere, including Vegas, and since I've grown-up eating there the expansion continues to amaze me personally, and I definately agree the food is worth that as long as it doesn't "sell-out" or get changed.

                      So far for me, they have remained in my top favorite mexican food restaurants for as long as my first bite of their salsa and red sauce. I won't say it is the best mexican in southern california. There are too many places to say that. But the food at Super Mex has a definate flavor of it's own that would be a travesty to live without in my life...seriously.

                      So from this long-time patron regarding taste-wise I'd definately label the food "hole in the wall" even though they are getting to be a big monopoly. To me Gringo but good would describe somewhere like Chevy's NOT Super Mex....

                      I mean geez, breathe the air within a mile or more of any Super Mex location and you can smell the pork fat...!!!

                      One last true story: Back in the 90s I actually had some friends who moved away from Long Beach where they were raised to settle down in another state in the mid-west. According to them their deciding factor for moving back to soCal was to be able to eat Super Mex.