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La Super Rica

t
Thi N. May 12, 2004 08:55 PM

Coming back from a weekend of swimming and hiking and fishing about Santa Barbara (caught my first river smallmouth bass. Yay!) and hungry. A fellow hiker suggested (via translation from my Spanish-savvy girlfriend) we find Milpa Street. Lo and behold, there's La Super Rica, of which I've heard a lot. I particularly remember some post from a while back, saying something like, what's good mexican in LA, and DON'T EVEN POST IF YOU AIN'T BEEN TO LA SUPER RICA, BECAUSE IF YOU AIN'T BEEN TO LA SUPER RICA YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT REAL MEXICAN IS.

Incredibly appetizing - fresh meats going on the grill, etc. etc.

It was pretty disappointing, actually.

Taco bisteca was sort of dry and flavorless. Nothing compared to, say, El Gran Burrito's $1 carne asada, let alone the glories of Gallo's Grill's wood-fire grilled steaks in East LA, nor the great carne asada of the northeast vendor of the southwest parking lot on the weekends at Alameda Swapmeet.

The incredibly appetizing-looking tacos de adobado turned out to be astonishingly flavorless - not as flavorless as the truly awful places of L.A., but far below any anonymous shack in East LA or East Hollywood, let alone a real pork specialist. They were *disturbingly* flavorless. Shouldn't adobado have *some* sort of flavor? Instead, try: grilled pork cuts at Guelaguetza, al pastor at Antonijero's, King Taco, or Taqueria Sanchez, or pretty much any roast or grilled pork at any joint in East LA.

Grilled peppers with cheese and adobo was again, strangely flavorless. I think they were the least pepper tasting grilled peppers I've had from a non-chain Mexican place in L.A.

Cheese with chorizo was odd - the cheese was, again, lacking in any flavor or fresh zest, and the chorizo was this strange, rubbery substance, tasting vaguely of old spices and completely unenjoyable. Also unlike in texture any chorizo I've had in East LA/East Hollywood/Mexico - not particulate, but having the injection-molded rubbery feel of, say, Chinese sausage. Try, instead: chorizo at the 8th street Guelaguetza, northern-style chorizo with cheese at Gallo's Grill. Both have intensely spiced, well-flavored, granular, porky, gorgeous chorizos.

Beans were indeed good - flavored and well spiced - but not quite as good as, say, the free beans at El Gran Burrito. (Which, admittedly, is slightly unfair - El Gran Burrito's free beans are the best I've ever had, and would gladly pay a hunk of change for 'em). Slightly less bean-y flavor, less toothsome texture than El Gran's, but with more pork fat and some extra spices.

Salsas were of the sort you get from your usual taco truck in LA - unfresh. Try anyplace that takes pride in its salsas - say, El Gran Burrito.

Hand-made tortillas were strikingly flavorless. Amy, my Mexico-wandering girlfriend, took one bite of one and gave it a shocked look. Try, say, the gorgeous puffy soft tortillas hand-patted at that birria joint on 3rd street or Cesar Chevez... El... er... can't remember again... help...

Anyway, yeah. It tastes a lot like all those places that get lauded here that I despise - Yuca's, Burrito King, El Siete Mares - which share the traits of:
1. Being, in my humble estimation, far less good than even an average East LA/West LA/East Hollywood Mexican place.
2. Strikingly, being quite close to some non-Mexican hipster enclave.

I normally don't like to criticize - I figure everybody's taste is their taste, and what each person loves is their own, and what gives you pleasure is unchallangeable - but I'm convinced that the touting of genuinely flavorless places like this is partially through lack of experience. I have met nobody - *NOBODY* - who's been to a few East LA places and a few choice other LA places - who still stands by Yuca's/Burrito King/El Siete Mares.

So, maybe I'm wrong. I'll gladly put my foot in my mouth, if you can show me the wonder of any of these places. But, if you're willing:

Instead of Yuca's carnitas, try carnitas at... well, lots of places, but especially La Indiana Tamales in East LA.

Instead of El Siete Mares, try ceviche at La Playita on Lincoln, and fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada (holy!), or some TacoNazos.

Instead of Burrito King, go down a few blocks to El Gran Burrito and have a carne asada taco. At night. Past 8. Otherwise, you get warmed over stuff.

Instead of Alegria, try, er, I don't know, sucking on your shoe. Sorry, I hate this place a lot. Well, instead of their mole, try mole at: Guelageutza, Juquila, the new place at Wilton and Melrose, or El Sazon Oaxaquena.

Sorry. In the end, La Super Rica is not *bad*. If I'd had it vaguely nearby in, say, Boston, I would have patronized it. I mean, if this were an issue of it not being as good as most places in Mexico, I wouldn't be harping. But East LA, for god's sake! East Hollywood! The idea of somebody from LA getting *excited* about going to Santa Barbara for La Super Rica *boggles my mind*.

Probably the closest for an overall experience would be Gallo's Grill, the Northern Mexican steakhouse. Which is about 10 or 12 times better, for maybe a few dollars more.

Again, if it's just a difference of taste, I'll happily go screw myself and everybody can ignore this post. But I'm going out on a limb here, and guessing - that once you start wandering East LA, La Super Rica will fade.

But then again, maybe I'm wrong.

Feel free to crucify me.

-thi

  1. c
    cvc May 12, 2004 09:15 PM

    I hope you don't get crucified. This was a great report. Although I've had nothing but very good experiences there (most recently about four months ago), I think it's important to put La Super Rica into historical context. It came to fame from local resident Julia Child who, in this instance, helped ignite interest in authentic Mexican cooking in a pre Border Grill, La Serenata, hell, even, La Salsa, Baja Fresh time. Here we were, living in one of the largest Hispanic communites in the U.S. and yet driving two hours to a smaller community to experience the "real" thing. Certainly we weren't recommending the local tacquerias that we see all over this board these days. I just discovered the place three doors south of Culver on Inglewood on the West side of the street and enjoyed two of the best dollar carnitas tacos I've had this side of El Bajio in Mexico City. I think La Super Rica is still worthwhile. It's just that there are many more options now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cvc
      c
      chow_now_brown_cow Jul 29, 2007 02:35 PM

      The food is good, but the place has been there forever. So, one might think that they either own the building, or get a pretty good deal on the lease. If so, then why has it always been such a crappy food value? Nothing has changed about the poor value in the last 20 years!

      I've got two words for you that make La Super Rica so-so: "Los Arroyos!"

      I've also got three words for you "El Pollo Norteño!" I'd mention the Chicken Ranch, but it's just Guedo's Pollo Norteño. I can say that as I AM guedo.

    2. f
      fooddude May 13, 2004 02:00 AM

      I agree with pretty much everything, Thi. Went to LSR once about a year ago and the line was so long, the food so average that I haven't been back.
      I do like Yuca's though...me having spent a few months going to east L.A. taco trucks at 1 a.m. and knowing the glories of La Indiana carnitas. (I bought two pounds, sliced right of the roast, took home some tortillas and El Yucateco, opened up 3 Negro Modelos, and opened my third eye)

      I still have a lot of places to go to (unfortunately I'm living in camarillo right now) but I swear my Machaca burrito from El Tepeyac kicked my ass. In the best way possible. Also agree on Gran Burrito comments. Never been to Gallo's Grill *gasp*

      3 Replies
      1. re: fooddude
        t
        Thi N. May 13, 2004 05:08 AM

        Remember for Gallo's Grill - it's about the marination and the fire. Butterflied, marinated sirloin or the like is way better than, say, their filet mignon.

        Horchata, too. Yeah.

        -thi

        1. re: fooddude
          b
          Burger Boy May 13, 2004 01:50 PM

          Sorry, Super Rica is far superior than Yucas. I have lived in Los Feliz/Silverlake for 35 years and i will make the drive to Santa Barbara before I will walk the 4 blocks to Yucas.
          The Sope, queso fundido, rajas con crema, the guacomole, all are so good.

          1. re: Burger Boy
            j
            JJ May 13, 2004 05:28 PM

            I just discovered the steak sandwich at Yuca's. It's not bad for $4 when you need a beef fix. The conchinita pibil burrito I like as well. The other stuff ive found bland and overrated.

        2. j
          Joe B. May 13, 2004 10:29 AM

          For chow reference, I've linked to that LSR discussion from last year. I really got "into it" with that original poster, and also did so in subsequent threads. You can see in my previous posts just how I feel about La Super Rica. Just the same as you.

          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          4 Replies
          1. re: Joe B.
            l
            levbarg May 14, 2004 02:43 AM

            And Joe B., you never did respond to my final comment from that thread! Do I win by default? ;-)

            > As for your criticism questioning whether or not I know what real "Mexican food is all about", please. That's another discussion board. I'm Jewish but I don't go around criticizing "Kosher Style" delicatessans because they serve bacon and eggs. If it's interesting, flavorful and the food is really good, I'm there.

            1. re: levbarg
              j
              Joe B. May 14, 2004 10:09 AM

              I guess you missed the part where I said, "I'm done now."

              1. re: Joe B.
                l
                levbarg May 14, 2004 05:21 PM

                Oh yes, after the apology. Got it.

                1. re: levbarg
                  c
                  Curt May 14, 2004 06:40 PM

                  Once again, I think we're begining to understand.

          2. e
            Ernie May 13, 2004 01:25 PM

            As someone who grew up in the East LA area, I still like La Super Rica. I agree their carne asada is flavorless and tough, but their special calabacita (squash) with pork is a delicious homestyle dish that is not common on menus even in LA, and I always order their wonderful tacos de raja.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Ernie
              t
              Thi N. May 13, 2004 01:31 PM

              Ah! I did not have either.

              1. re: Ernie
                d
                David Kahn May 13, 2004 02:13 PM

                I agree. While I have never had anything outright awful at LSR, there are plenty of things on their menu that are just okay. There are also, however, a number of items that are really nice. In particular, it's seemed to me that their specials tend to be pretty good.

                1. re: Ernie
                  s
                  slowrider May 13, 2004 04:28 PM

                  Calabacitas!
                  I went to Super Rica once and agree with the assessment - the standard items like asada are blah.....
                  Their "special" items are the way to go.....
                  Did not notice the calabacitas on the menu when I went.......have never had it with pork either -sounds good! have only had it w/ shrimp...
                  Will try if I ever go again....

                2. m
                  Mr. Taster May 13, 2004 02:35 PM

                  I have been to LSR many times. The more "standard" items (like the tacos) at La Super Rica are nothing special. The basic tacos tend to be bland and tough (meat and tortilla, nothing else). But when I go to a new restaurant I always order the more unusual things on the menu first, so it was not until perhaps visit 10 that I ordered and was highly disappointed by LSR tacos. I'm glad my first impression of LSR was not based on them.

                  The reason to go to La Super Rica is the creativity of many of the menu items. But the daily specials on the blackboard and some of the menu items (like the Super Rica Especial) are quite flavorful and delicious and unlike anything I've had elsewhere in LA. The pasilla peppers, while not spicy, take a fantastic charred flavor from the grill. Mixed with the charred meat, cheese and onions, it is quite wonderful.

                  Mr. Taster

                  1. s
                    Slow Foodie May 13, 2004 03:03 PM

                    Well Thi, you ordered exactly right at Langer's and exactly wrong at La Super Rica. I have always been blown away by the specials there--especially some fish tamales once on the menu, the likes of which I'd never had before or since. The rajas too are a homespun, satisfying treat. I wouldn't say it's the best Mexican restaurant in the world but I've had a number of really delicious and satisfying meals there. I think you owe 'em another visit--but get that thesis finished first.

                    1. c
                      Curt May 13, 2004 04:04 PM

                      I think we can now understanding why the lines, although not really long, move so excruciatingly slow!

                      Thank God they don't have a wine cellar!

                      1. c
                        ChickenEater May 13, 2004 04:17 PM

                        you know, I've only been to guelaguetza (not the Palms location, the other one) once. I ordered the pollo con mole negro and i must say that it was just... too much mole.

                        It tasted good, but I literally just got a hunk of chicken floating in in a plate of mole soup. When I was about 3/4 of the way done I became sort of bored with it! Bored of the texture, the mouth chew of the chicken, the sweetness of the mole, like what happens when you have too much of a good thing.

                        Did I just order the wrong thing? Thi is raving about the mole, so what am I missing?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ChickenEater
                          j
                          Just Larry May 13, 2004 10:16 PM

                          You are correct. I prefer the Mole Negro Tamale. Just the right amount of chicken, mole and that moist flavorful masa. Much less expensive too. You must admit that Mole Negro is really great. You can mix any left over mole with the beans and rice and roll it up in the tortillas.

                        2. salutlemonde Jul 29, 2007 04:17 PM

                          Alas, Gallos Grill on Cesar Chavez is closed indefinitely... unless they've opened in another location?

                          1. b
                            brandygirl Jul 30, 2007 12:31 AM

                            I will take Thi N's suggestion to try these East L.A. places. Although I have read about many great taco places in LA on Chowhound, I've never tried any of them. (I live in the valley, so it's a long drive.) I'm on vacation now, so it's a good time to try them. So, my list of places to try during the next few weeks is:
                            El Gran Burrito after 8pm for carne asada tacos
                            La Indiana Tamales for carnitas
                            Tacos Baja Ensenada for fish tacos

                            Any other dishes at these places that are must-tries?
                            Any other places I should add to this list?

                            I must say, even if I fall in love with any of these places, I will still make the trek to La Super Rica. It's not just the food, but it's a nice drive.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: brandygirl
                              f
                              FED Jul 30, 2007 09:36 AM

                              i would definitely add Sabor de Mexico in Culver City (thanks mr. and mrs. dommy!). had a terrific lunch there recently.

                            2. Grog Jul 30, 2007 10:41 AM

                              Folks - If you're going to LSR to order tacos, you're missing the point. The tacos at Taqueria El Bajio, also on Milpas, will give El Gran Burrito a run for their $.

                              As others have said, the specials are the way to go at LSR. I'm partial to the tamals, pozole, raja con crema and anything with the grilled pork. The marinade on the pork imparts a flavor like none I've ever encountered.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Grog
                                s
                                Shadow Aug 5, 2007 01:22 AM

                                DH and I could not understand La Super Rica....big disappointment...never again.
                                Shadow

                                1. re: Shadow
                                  Curt the Soi Hound Aug 5, 2007 06:16 AM

                                  After reading the constant praise, I had to stop by and came away with the same feeling.
                                  I felt it was a complete waste of time.

                                  I believe this thread has pointed out that it is often just as important to recommend what to eat as well as where.

                                  1. re: Curt the Soi Hound
                                    g
                                    glbtrtr Aug 5, 2007 11:41 PM

                                    No problemo to not recommend LSR because we locals love it in our own ways and hate seeing it get crowded by outsiders. So buh, bye. And I'll keep sticking with #15-Tocino Special and die and go to heaven with every juicy, drippy tasty bite. Love you, LSR. Don't ever change.

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