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Jul 18, 2009 11:54 PM

Santa Barbara, 1 lunch and 1 dinner for 1

Tell me where I have to go and what to order...

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  1. Love to get some limits here because there are so many choices depending on where you are staying and food likes, dislikes, settings, budget and curiosities. We could send you to $400 meal at San Ysidro Ranch or a great fresh taco for $3.95 at La Superica. Can you provide a few more clues and we can help you pin down some local favorites.

    18 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      I've heard great things about Los Agaves on Milpas.
      Have you been there and what do you think?
      I'm on my way up today and would like your thoughts.

      1. re: latindancer

        It is good, not great, but good. Uses local ingredients, freshly prepared. Fresh "Mexican" can only go so far, but if this is what you want this is a good choice, along with a lot of other places too in this town. So it depends what you are looking for. It is casual, so this is not a place for dining finesse. It is like Los Arroyos, Los Gallos, etc ... and even Rudy's can turn out some really good fresh stuff too.

        I don't think they take this type of food to a different dimension than others that are similar in town. And there is nothing wrong with that. If this is a convenient location, then you will enjoy it if you are looking for fresh Mexican with a few of their own unique twists, sauces and ingredients. By all means try it. I would go back again.

        1. re: glbtrtr

          Thanks glbtrtr. Unfortunately I ran out of time in Santa Barbara and had to come back to 'the furnace' here in LA>
          Santa Barbara was beautiful for the three days I was there. The first dinner had I ate was at The Boathouse and I had a wonderful Petrale Sole with roasted potatoes and fresh steamed spinach. The service was excellent, the scenery was beautiful and the food was delicious.
          Two nights later I dined at Santa Barbara Fish House. I was pleasantly surprised, actually, being this is the heighth of the tourist season and it is located across from Stearn's Wharf. I, once again, had Petrale Sole. They actually prepared it the same....pan sauteed on a bed of roasted potatoes and fresh steamed spinach.
          The service was wonderful and the food was excellent.
          I love to try new wines I've never tasted in Santa Barbara. I was turned on to a wonderful winery named 'McManis'. It's a central coast, family run winery, and they're known for their pinot noir. It's excellent.
          Thanks for the advice on Los Agave. I'm anxious to try it.

          1. re: latindancer

            Latindancer- the Boathouse and the Fishouse are owned by the same folks...they also own the SBShellfish on Stearns Wharf.

            1. re: JalamaMama

              I didn't know that, thanks.
              I was really happy to have found these (2) restaurants. Now I know why they prepared the sole the same at both places.
              Regardless, I find myself, back in LA, thinking about that fish!
              Lucky Santa Barbara.

      2. re: glbtrtr

        I had La Superica for lunch and I have to say I didn't get it. I have a chile relleno in cream sauce and it was discusting. 2 pounds of cheese, no flavor in a bland cream sauce.

        The #16 was good but will melted cheese all over it, I found it gooey and hard to eat. I have eaten some great Mexican in my day and La Superica was not one of them.
        P.S Great salsa and tortillas

        1. re: irishkevbo

          # 15 is cheesy (bacon, melted cheese, fresh tortillas and pico de gallo), gooey and hard to eat. And it drips all over and needs multiple napkins before you are done. And....... it is hard to put down. Yum! It's the best. Fresh, simple, flavorful and addicting.

          1. re: glbtrtr

            Not really Mexican food but it sure does sound good.

            1. re: irishkevbo

              Uhhhh, I think it IS Mexican food .......... Mexican cheese, and you can also order it with chorizo sausage instead of the Mexican bacon on the fresh Mexican tortillas and the fresh Mexican pico de gallo ...... put together at a really authentic Mexican family fresh taco stand ............yup, it is Mexican on all counts.

              1. re: glbtrtr

                Show me one place in Mexico that slatthers it's food in montery jack cheese (American) and pico de gallo. Real mexican food has a little bit of queso fresco or Chihuaha cheese, it's not covered in cheese. I had a chile relleno that may have been the worst thing I ever ate, it was covered in cream and discusting cheese, uggghhh.

                1. re: irishkevbo

                  I agree that the cheese they used was surprising since it tasted like some kind of american cheese. I think SuperRica is not bad but by far not as good as some people make it and it lives from its hype.

              2. re: irishkevbo

                "Not really Mexican food but it sure does sound good"

                If it's not Mexican then what is it?

                1. re: latindancer

                  It's totally cool if you don't like La Superrica, but we gotta keep the facts straight, here: there is no use of Monterey Jack at La Superrica. They use only queso panela and queso oaxaca. Throwing around the word "real" before Mexican food could be problematic on these boards, in any case. As for the cream sauce on your chile relleno- I know one of the national dishes of Mexico to be chiles en nogada. The sauce for this dish is usually made with crema and queso and a lot of ground walnuts. A very creamy sauce indeed, and a not atypical accompaniment to a chile relleno.

                  Facts: you say that your #16 had "cheese melted all over it." To me, that description implies a prepared dish being covered with a handful of cheap cheese and being tossed under a salamander. La Superrica does not do this- they fire-grill their meats and veggies to order and then transfer them to a flattop where they are diced together with the cheese so that a really great depth of flavor is spread throughout the meat. The dish exists in a cheese-less version on the menu as well.

                  1. re: SaltyRaisins

                    Are you sure about queso panela and queso oaxaca ? Both times when trying #15 the cheese did taste like Monterey Jack (I know that queso oaxaca sometimes taste similar to unaged Monterey Jack but both times it tasted (not in a good way) like aged Monterey Jack

                    1. re: honkman

                      Yeah, I'm pretty sure. I've seen them prepping the cheese, and it's in those particular shapes.

                    2. re: SaltyRaisins


                      Love that real treat at Superica - melted cheese, bacon, fresh tortillas and pico de gallo. It's real there and that's real for me. Yum. I want it now! If I want real Mexican food, I go to Mexico just like I do for every other national cuisine.

                      I have yet to find "real" international cuisine outside its home base. I find pale comparisons and some creative interpretations, but I never hold a local place to their standards of origin. Chill, some of us love LSR. It is okay for you to not like it. Really.

                      Can't find good soda bread outside Ireland either.

              3. re: irishkevbo

                Everytime time I go to LSR, I order #16. Most people, including myself the first time, don't know how to properly eat this dish - they use a knife and fork?!?

                Instead, treat the plate like fajitas...take one of the tortillas, place it on a clean plate or your hand, take a handful of the pork/cheese/pepper mixture and place it in the tortilla...add whatever salsa/guac you want - personally I like the salsa verde and it like a taco...

                You can easily get 5 nice sized tacos out of this (you need to order extra tortillas).


                1. re: manku

                  Ordering the extra tortillas is a good way because even my fav, the #15 special could go further with a few more succulent fresh tortillas than just the three they include making this bit of heaven last even longer. Thanks for the suggestion and your mouth-watering description of your fav.

            2. Habanero hot shot at the Brewhouse

              1. Brophy Bros on the Waterfront is a must. Show up for Sunset early, take in the view of the SB Riviera and enjoy classic, simple seafood at a great price..

                Chowder, Oysters, Louie Salads... All Killer!

                Don't miss it...


                FYI, the people above talking S#@!t about Super Rica are on CRACK! Still the best Taqueria on the planet...

                10 Replies
                1. re: Mister Munchie

                  'Still the best Taqueria on the planet...."

                  While I agree Super Rica is good, you're going overboard with the accolades.
                  It's one of Santa Barbara's better places to eat, for sure.
                  Just like Brophy Bros.

                  1. re: Mister Munchie

                    "Still the best Taqueria on the planet..." - I dodn't know that Santa Barbara is now a own planet ;)

                    1. re: Mister Munchie

                      There does seem to be some rather weird reverse snobbery trying to put La Superica down.

                      We owe LSR a huge debt of gratitude because they introduced us to terrific fresh Mexican style foods decades ago when the standard in this town was not much better than canned Rosarita. El Paseo stood for everything that was wrong with gringo Mexican and few would venture down to Haley Street for the Rose Cafe which was only a few shades better.

                      LSR owner started from scratch in a very modest setting and built little by little his very solid reputation to become a very well-loved dining choice and opened this town to the possibilities of what regional Mexican cooking can be. Just because Juila Childs also recognized what the owner was trying to do with fresh food within this unique national cuisine is no reason to look down your noses on it because it is not to your own liking.

                      Thank you LSR for setting the standard and awakening our local taste buds to the wonders of this all to often badly presented and underappreciated regional cuisine. You are part of the fabric of our town and take a very well-deserved place near the top of it for what you brought to us through your incredibly hard work and attention to detail.

                      And BTW, did I tell you l LOVE the Number 15 Ticino Special! Don't change a thing and I am glad over the decades you have not.

                      1. re: glbtrtr

                        "Just because Julia Childs also recognized what the owner was trying to do with fresh food within this unique national cuisine is no reason to look down your noses on it because it is not to your own liking".

                        I'm not sure what you're attempting but regardless of whether Julia Childs liked/loved La Superica (years ago) is irrelevant to my tastes and whether I like the place or not.
                        I like LSR. However, given that, I argue whether or not it's 'the best Taqueria on the planet'.
                        It's a place to go when I'm in Santa Barbara and the food is consistently good.
                        I can't think of why this would be considered "weird reverse snobbery".
                        What does that mean anyway?

                        1. re: latindancer

                          Latin dancer - my comments were not in response to you, but merely commenting on MrMunchies observations about all the trash talk against LRS. If you look at the format for the reply comments there is no relationship to any one persons comment but rather a response intended to be in the most general terms to the topic itself .My apologies if you took this as a personal response to you. None intended.

                        2. re: glbtrtr

                          I think when you hear so much hype about a place for years you have expectations. When I ate there I thought the food was suited for Amercian tastes and was very dissapointed. When I go to a Mexican place and it is all chubby white people it freaks me out a little. When I go to an Indian place and it is all chubby white people, it has the same effect.
                          When you are in Zagat as one of the top spots around for Mexican you not onl expect fresh (which it was) but you expect it to taste good. I don't like my mexican food slathered in gooey cheese, that is an American trend and when i want Mexican food I would like it to be somewhat Authentic.
                          LSR has it's place and I'm sure the owners are very nice and I'm sure my comments won't slow it down at all but it is NOT authentic in the least bit and in my opinion it is very overrated.

                          1. re: irishkevbo

                            As usual, I'm fine with your opinions and there's certainly room for them on this board. But the thing that I try to look out for is facts, and your characterization of LSR is weak on them. First off, I grew up in SB and have eaten at the restaurant regularly since Day Fetus: the clientele is NOT entirely chubby white people. There're also chubby asians, chubby african-americans, chubby latinos, assorted chubby AND hairy europeans, at least one lean and mean Jewish guy, etcetera. This, in my opinion says NOTHING about what's coming out of the kitchen. In my experience, the only time you can use the demographics of the clientele as a warning beacon is when you see a line of late retirees at 5 pm in front of the First Watch in Coral Gables, FL (I guess I'm not a racist...just a bit ageist). And I won't even mention the insane collection of humanity dining at Vik Distributors (great Indian food that is analogous in quality and style to LSR) in Berkeley. You could reconstruct the path of the human genome from cheek-swabs taken from an average Tuesday lunch rush. So I mentioned. Sorry.

                            Secondly, Zagat is based on customer reviews and really tells you very little about what you can expect to eat at a restaurant. Anyway, it's moot because LSR existed before Zagat did.

                            And third, say what you will about food being "slathered in gooey cheese" as an American trend in Mexican food (really depends on where you've been in Mexico), but the majority of the items on the menu at LSR are cheese-less. I think you did not order the things that you might have preferred- their tortillas are top-notch, and all their meats are available as fillings and their salsa verde is almost floral in its complexity. Go again and order a taco de adobada with nothing more than a bit of verde, and then tell us what you think of the place. But I'll stop going into detail about the menu.

                            Another thing- who ever made the claim that LSR strives for "authenticity?" I feel like that word is a bit of a dodo when it comes to California Mexican- it is possible that local styles have evolved north of the border, right? I can think of lots of examples that are worthy on their own that never knew the Kiss of the Land of Azteca.

                            Also, the owners are not just "very nice," they are damn serious about food in general, their own food and the quality of the food that they are serving to the "chubby gringos" or whatever. That might not be the case at a more "authentic" place, and we should consider ourselves lucky that we, the general non-Spanish speaking pool of diners, are not being discriminated against, foodwise, at La Superrica when the miscarriage of facts in the above post would give them every right to do so.


                            1. re: SaltyRaisins

                              Welcome aboard. Salty. Good to hear you telling it straight.

                              One will see the entire human spectrum at LSR and now the reason is more than Julia Child's plucking it from local obscurity. It is also recommended in the book "1000 places to visit before you die" under the Santa Barbara heading. This helps explains its customer diversity as well. But mainly it is simply well-loved by locals and garners many repeat customers.

                              Go # 15 Tocino Special, which is also not "slathered with cheese". It is cheese, and lots of it melted with bacon scooped on to fresh tortillas and topped with fresh pico de gallo. It exceeds its reputation.

                              1. re: glbtrtr

                                Right- I've had it many times, but not the kind of thing I order very often these days. It is really a queso fundido, and I wonder if that were the menu description would people not complain about "authenticity?"

                                I'm a pintos alla olla, gordita de frijol, and a rajas guy, but that's just me.

                                1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                  Now I want a rajas

                                  Looks like it's a trip to SB soon for us

                                  Oh how I love the rajas. It's the combination of the herbs with the peppers and cheese that does it for me