HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >

Discussion

The Super Stews of Super Cocina [Review] w/ Pics!

(Formatted with All Pictures here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2010/07...

Stews hold a special place in my heart. They embodies so many of the things I love from the world of food: Slow-cooked, long-simmered meats and vegetables combining together after many hours to form something inimitable via any other method of cooking. It's a giant, soul-warming pot of goodness, of patience and love. :) So when I hear kare_raisu wax poetic about a Guisados specialist serving a rotating menu of regional Mexican Stews, I have no choice but to pay Super Cocina a visit. (^_~)

From the exterior, Super Cocina looks just like another nondescript, hole-in-the-wall eatery that may or may not yield great food. Stepping inside, and you're treated to a steam table featuring that *moment's* selection of Guisados (Mexican Stews). According to Owner Fernando Sanchez, their selection of Guisados can change multiple times a day, based on a variety of recipes handed down from their family and relatives and friends, representing multiple regions of Mexico.

It may not look very stylish, but then again most Stews have never looked very sexy. I can't wait to order and see how the flavors turn out.

Jotaru and another friend join me on this expedition today. We begin with their Pork Carnitas (Slow-Roasted Pork).

I realize this is a Guisados specialist, but one of my "must order" items whenever I see it on a menu is Carnitas. :) The Carnitas taste fresh, but extremely salty and one note. After having been spoiled on the amazing Carnitas of Metro Balderas, it's hard to appreciate most local offerings these days. :)

The first of our Guisados arrive at this point: Chicharron en Chile Verde (Fried Pork Rinds in Green Chili Stew).

While I love the texture of Deep Fried Pork Rinds, having them soak up the flavors of this slow cooked Chile Verde is amazing: The slight piquancy from the Tomatillo are balanced by the fragrant Cilantro and Garlic notes and an even burn from the Serrano Chilies. There's a lush quality about the Chicharrones and I can't get enough of this Stew. It's better than any Chile Verde-type flavoring I've had around So Cal. Wonderful. :)

Next up is their Puerco en Chile Colorado (Stewed Pork in a Red Chili Stew).

While the name may sound familiar, unlike many of the thin, watery "Chile Colorado" sauces you find around town, Super Cocina's version tastes like the product of slow-cooked love, for many hours. :) The chunks of Pork are tender and fresh (made that day), with a subtle nutty sweetness and a hotter burn (than the Chile Verde) from the Guajillo Chilies and Almonds. This is probably our favorite dish of the day. Delicious! (^_^)

The next two dishes are even more interesting. We start with their Camarones y Nopalitos en Chile Rojo (Shrimp and Prickly Pear in a Red Chili Stew).

The Camarones turn out to be freshly pounded Shrimp Cakes stewed for hours to take on a very soft, delicate texture. The Prickly Pear complements the mouthfeel of the Shrimp Cakes with an equally soft, meaty quality. There's a strong pungent brininess (but not off-putting) to the whole dish which may not be for everyone, but I found it to be enjoyable.

Their Pollo en Mole Poblano (Chicken in Pueblan Mole (pronounced "Moh-Leh")) is on the sweeter side for Moles.

There's a real, genuine depth to their Mole: Using 4 kinds of Chilies, including Pasilla, Ancho, Poblano, along with Sesame Seeds, Peanuts and Chocolate, it carries a constant, subtle heat and noticeable sweetness.

One dish that the Sanchez family strongly recommends is their Pescado en Papilado (Steamed Tilapia in Cilantro Sauce).

Tilapia usually tastes pretty muddy, but Super Cocina's version is a delight: Bathed in a gorgeous translucent Green Sauce (from the Cilantro), the Tilapia is bright and aromatic, with a touch of tartness.

But their Puerco Con Espinacas (Pork Stewed with Spinach) might very well be the highlight of the meal.

The chunks of Pork Rib meat are meltingly tender, and have a wonderful slow-cooked flavor. It tastes like it's been stewed for hours, and the Spinach has soaked up all the flavors of this Red Stew, along with the clear accents from the Guajillo Chile base. It's savory and balanced and awesome. :)

Our final dish is the one I'm most intrigued about: Pollo en Acuyo (Chicken Stew with Mexican Pepperleaf (or Sacred Pepper)).

Senor Sanchez shows us an Acuyo Leaf and explains that they've been using this herb in many of their Oaxacan family recipes for years.

The first sip reveals an herbaceous salty quality. It's a subtle fragrance that's less dominant than, say, Rosemary, and it's like nothing I've had before. The chunks of tender Chicken are well-integrated with the rest of the Stew and it's a great pairing with Rice. :)

Service is pretty straightforward: You order at the counter and choose which Guisados or other dishes you'd like. Note that they're happy to offer free samples of any of the Stews they have on display. Prices range from $3.99 for a Small Bowl of a Stew, to $5.99 for a Large. Or you can order a Guisados Combination (2 Items with Beans and Rice) for $7.69.

Super Cocina is an outstanding Guisados specialist, delivering a variety of hearty, down-to-earth, humble Stews representing multiple regions of Mexico. While there are some misses on the menu (their Carnitas are one-note salt bombs, their brute-force briny Camarones y Nopalitos might not be for everyone), there are far more winners to celebrate, including their mouth-watering Puerco Con Espinacas (Pork and Spinach Stew), Pollo en Acuyo (Chicken Stew with Mexican Pepperleaf), and Puerco en Chile Colorado (Pork in Red Chile Stew). As I'm leaving, I look into their open kitchen and see members of the Sanchez family slowly stirring a large soup pot and adding in some herbs and stirring some more. I feel like I've just dined at Grandma's house with some simple, but smile-inducing, family-style dishes. Recommended. :)

*** Rating: 8.0 (out of 10.0) ***

Super Cocina
3627 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104
Tel: (619) 584-6244

Hours: 7 Days A Week, 8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.

-----
Super Cocina
3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

 
 
 
 
  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Exilekiss, great report. Glad you made it to SC, they are definitely one of the Mexican gems in San Diego.

    If I may, I'd like to clarify a couple of bits in of you terminology just to prevent possible confusion.

    - Acuyo more frequently goes by the name Hoja Santa (or occasionally Yerba Santa) and it does, indeed, impart a distinctive and different flavor. It can be an acquired taste. The plant itself is easily grown in Southern California. They are often used as wrappers, liners for tamales or casseroles, or torn into pieces and added to soups, stews and/or sauces as a seasoning. Very much a multi-tasking ingredient with a diverse number of uses.

    - Nopales (nopalitos) are cactus paddles, usually from the prickly pear cactus. The fruit of the prickly pear cactus is also very, very widely consumed (it's delicious as well). In Mexico the sweet fruit of the prickly pear cactus is called "tuna" (tunafish is atun) and the sour fruit is called xoconostle. In the U.S. the sweet fruit is usually identified as "prickly pear cactus" (and xoconostles are still called xoconostles). Both can be used in stews. The nopales in the stew you ate were from the flat cactus paddle and not the fruit of the cactus. Since there's a pretty substantial difference between the plant and the fruit, I thought a little clarification might not be a bad idea.

    Super Cocina does a great job and many of these dishes you don't see very frequently outside of central and southern Mexico.

    -----
    Super Cocina
    3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

    1 Reply
    1. re: DiningDiva

      Hi DiningDiva,

      Thanks for your thoughts and info. :) Yah for Acuyo, Senor Sanchez didn't know the English name so I searched online to find an English name for it. I love the taste! :)

      Nopales - Definitely. In my hurry I meant the paddle of the Prickly Pear Cactus, not the fruit. I'll update it to be more specific.

      Thanks!

    2. Thanks for the report, but holy cow you've made me so hungry!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: The Office Goat

        Hi The Office Goat,

        Hehe, thanks. :) Do you have any favorite Guisados there?

      2. On your next visit make sure to try their birria de chivo. It's stellar.

        You should also go for breakfast and try the chilaquiles.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Josh

          Hi Josh,

          I'm so bummed I missed out on the Birria! I *love* Birria de Chivo in general and when we went, they didn't have any at that time. Is there a specific day you've found that they usually serve it?

          I'll definitely have to make it down for Desayunos one of these days. :) Thanks.

        2. Nice review. Even better pics. Thanks.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Fake Name

            Hi Fake Name,

            Thank you. :) If you get a chance to try it, let us know how it goes.

          2. nice review and pics! We may be heading there this weekend!

            1 Reply
            1. re: daantaat

              That was a great review and some awesome pictures. I have been meaning to go back to SC and now I am feeling like I need to go even sooner. My Spanish is very limited so I sometime don't get a full appreciation for everything that is going on in the dishes there so it is good to read a more detailed description.

            2. Re. the carnitas. I haven't had them in years but last time I did they had whole sticks of Mexican cinnamon fried along with the meat in the Oaxacan style and were really tasty.

              Glad you made it out.

              4 Replies
              1. re: kare_raisu

                Hi kare_raisu,

                Thank you again for the great recommendation! :) I can't wait to go back and try some new Guisados. Are there any other favorite Guisados that I should keep an eye out for?

                1. re: exilekiss

                  Pork ing Green Pipian is amazing but you should really refer to the database: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/366888

                  1. re: exilekiss

                    2nd the Green Pipian. Chicken in the Cilantro Cream Sauce is great as well.

                    1. re: daimyo

                      Thanks kare_raisu and daimyo. :)

                      I'm so glad to see so many unique dishes that I have yet to try. It makes each visit to Super Cocina that much more exciting (to be surprised by that day's and that hour's new dishes :). The Birria and Green Pipian are definitely 2 I hope I can try next time.

                2. Nice write-up exile, you always do a thorough and picturesque review. Makes you want to hop in the car and get your grub on. As far as family run places with great home cooking, SD has some real jewels.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cstr

                    Hi cstr,

                    Thank you. :) Do you have any recommendations / favorites at Super Cocina I haven't tried yet?

                  2. Thanks to Josh for the suggestion, I breakfast(ed) at Super Cocina this morning, had the Huevos Salseados w/spicy pork sauce.

                    "They call it spicy for a reason", said the gringo Whiteboy. "But I loved it all".

                    -----
                    Super Cocina
                    3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

                     
                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Fake Name

                      Did you think that Pepsi was going to put out the fire or just postpone the heat till later on?

                      1. re: Fake Name

                        Hi Fake Name,

                        Nice! :) I take it the Huevos Salseados with Spicy Pork Sauce is only available for breakfast? Do you know until what time? Thanks.

                        1. re: exilekiss

                          Dunno. You'll need to check with the authorities. I'm an SC novice.

                          1. re: exilekiss

                            Breakfast (in the form of egg dishes) is available all day. Huevos Salseados isn't specifically the pork sauce - it just means eggs dressed with any of the sauces from that day's guisado selection. It just happens to be especially good with the spicy pork sauce.

                            1. re: Josh

                              Huevos Salseados is the proper term.

                              But I prefer Huevos Suavecito (qué linda!)

                              <the above is a vintage song reference and may not be humorous to those under- I dunno- 40? google it, youngsters>

                              1. re: Josh

                                Hi Josh,

                                Thanks. Darn, if I had known I could've ordered Desayunos when I went, I would've tried some of their Huevos dishes. :) Definitely next time.

                                1. re: exilekiss

                                  If you go in the morning, you can get chilaquiles (excellent), and they also often have Huevos Oaxaqueños, which are delicious. Eggs and cheese in a chile-tomato sauce, served with fresh avocado.

                          2. Amazing place as always. For those of you (like me) who speak Italian and have a tendency to get your Italian/Spanish pronunciations mixed up, be VERY CAREFUL when talking about this place. Remember, the name is Super Co-See-Na, not Super Co-Chee-Na. Now let's wait for the Spanish speakers to stop laughing. . .waiting. . .waiting. . .seriously, its not that funny. . .waiting. . .okay.

                            1. Just went today my first time, this place is so good! I had their carnitas and it was wonderful, so I guess I got lucky or you didn't. =)

                              The great thing is they let you sample everything so it's safe to say visitors will find something they really like. It's a good way for them to figure out what's good or not - the ultimate taste test.