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Jul 30, 2010 01:42 PM

LA SUPER RICA inspired joint on La Brea.... anyone tried the new Tinga yet?

In my budding pre-Chowhound, new-to-California years (circa 1997) I tried La Super Rica in Santa Barbara for the first time and it blew my mind.

(Bear in mind that until that point, my New Jersey and Midwestern "Mexican food" experiences were limited to Taco Bell and whatever beans and spanish rice combo plate Chili's served up).

My experience sounds incredibly similar to the owner of Tinga, who says he visited a friend at UCSB. He "...went to La Super Rica [for the first time] and I had a number 16 and a number 14 and my life changed forever." Indeed, it was the same for me. #16 is the "Super-Rica Especial, char roasted pasilla stuffed with cheese and marinated pork, served on 3 very fresh handmade tortillas. #14 is the Chorizo Especial, an unctiously decadent pool of melty white cheese with chorizo, which you scoop into more of those freshly made tortillas. It's a helluva long way from the fajita plate at Applebees.

Although I'm now a great deal more familiar with the various regional types of Mexican food (though it's not my forte) and fresh tortillas are now something I expect (rather than an special event item to swoon over), La Super Rica still holds a special place for me, and it's rare that I ever drive past SB without stopping in for a bite.

This would be fantastic if they could pull it off.

Mr Taster

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  1. In recent times, you see more criticism of La Super-Rica, but I don't know why. The place hasn't changed in the 20 years I've been going there. Like you, Taster, I seldom drive through Santa Barbara without stopping for the char-roasted pasilla with cheese and marinated pork (in my case, always with a bowl of perfectly cooked pinto beans with bacon). It's delicious, homey, and satisfying, especially if the line is short and you have time to eat slowly and linger. Let's hope the Tinga people know what they're doing in the kitchen and aren't just using a Santa Barbara icon for the publicity value.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hnsbmg

      I agree completely. The prices have crept up over the last 13 years but otherwise the food remains unchanged. Their Sunday pozole special is one of the best interpretations I've ever had.

      As I read more about Tinga, I'm a bit confused... they claim to have been inspired by La Super Rica, but at the same time all I've seen photos of are tacos... and oddly tacos are the one thing that La Super Rica never gets right (they tend to be dry and flavorless).

      With the Tinga's potato tacos, deshebrada tacos, et al it sounds more like Loteria inspired rather than LSR, but perhaps that's because of the limited reports from the soft opening. I would be thrilled to have a local variation of the #16. Let's hope they succeed.

      Mr Taster

      142 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

      1. re: Mr Taster

        I do, too (hope they succeed), but grubstreet might have nailed it: "There will be coffee available in bulk to take home, with beans roasted by Jerry, and a curious addition of chicken and waffles and pastrami sliders on Sundays. Hold on guys, one restaurant at a time." My recommendation would be, if you're going to "improve" on the Santa Barbara original, serve something stronger to drink than beer, but pastrami sliders? chicken and waffles?? Sounds like they're setting up a Super-Reek-ster.

        1. re: hnsbmg

          i agree with the tacos not being special at LSR, but their poblano cheese or rajas and cheese taco is good, as well as the guac, and of course those cream-laden chile rellenos when they have them on special, as well as the dover sole tamale.

        2. re: Mr Taster

          I just went to la super rica on tuesday, huge line at around 2 in the afternoon. Years of average mexican restaurant food melted away when I bit into their sope. I'm really not all that familiar with mexican food either, but I liked what I ate.

          1. re: Mr Taster

            Went there for dinner today. I agree, it is more of a trip to Loteria than LSR. I came looking for something closer to LSR. The food was decent, but it was very similar to Loteria and I think it ended up more expensive (and I think Loteria is too expensive already). 2 steak tacos with some tortilla chips was $8.50. My wife and I ordered two orders of tacos and a side of corn. We were both very hungry after eating. I don't think you could order tacos a la carte, so we ordered more corn.

            The corn was fantastic. But I"m not going to a restaurant to eat corn. They had other things like Quesadillas, but my wife doesn't like cheese and Quesadillas are low on my list of things to order.

            The tacos were tasty. Any tastier than Loteria? Probably not. And Loteria is a little more user friendly since Tinga is very small. Portions were too small, but they are also too small at Loteria (IMHO).

            Service was a little chaotic, but they just opened and I will cut them a little slack. Don't know if I will go back. I was expecting something a little different. It's a good place for the neighborhood.

            One note...we were sitting next to a couple with a toddler. They didn't have a high chair and it left the couple having to eat and hold their kid. As a new parent, they should invest in a high chair.

            142 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

        3. The original comment has been removed
          1. Folks, Santa Barbara restaurants are handled on our CA board. It's ok to make brief comparison to La Super Rica, but please keep this thread focused on the restaurants in L.A. rather than a lengthy discussion of LSR or other Santa Barbara restaurants.

            We split off a nice review of a different Santa Barbara restaurant to its own topic on the California board. That lives here now: