Lunch at La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara

We spent last week with some friends (our quarantine pod) in Santa Barbara to ride out the election. And what a week it was! We thought we might be celebrating on Tuesday night as the results rolled in, but, as we all know, Tuesday’s uncertainty led to Wednesday’s uncertainty as the votes were slowly and meticulously counted.

How best to get our mind off of election stress? The ghost of Julia Child visited us one evening and told us to go visit La Super-Rica. The place is legendary — Isodoro Gonzalez opened it in 1996 — and Julia Child counted it as one of her favorite places to eat Mexican food. So off we went.

Since the pandemic began, we really haven’t gone to many restaurants — except the ones we hit on our big road trip — so going anywhere for lunch would’ve been a treat, but La Super-Rica went beyond that.

The place sits there like an oasis in a desert. The building is turquoise blue, the menu is extensive and wildly cheap for what’s on offer. We stood in a socially-distanced line, watching through a little window as the chefs made the famous tortillas from scratch.

After doing some minimal research online, I decided to go with #16, the Lomito — “Grilled marinated pork with melted cheese between two corn tortillas” — as well as a tamale with chicken mole. Our pal Ryan ordered queso that came with corn tortillas that we all shared.

The queso was dreamy — it stretched cinematically as we all lifted it with our tortillas — and it had just the right balance of creaminess and heat from the chorizo.

But the Lomito is what I’ll dream about the next time I go to sleep hungry.

The tortillas were so light and pillowy — almost like a flatbread — and then the inside had the perfect balance of meat and cheese. The three salsas they served with it all had lots of character: the tomatillo salsa was zingy, the salsa roja was deep, and the salsa fresca was shockingly spicy.

Here’s the Lomito up close in case you really want to take it in.

That’s worth a trip to Santa Barbara in and of itself. The tamale (not pictured because I forgot to take a picture) was also lovely; it came wrapped in a banana leaf and the chicken mole married perfectly with the masa inside.

So the next time the ghost of Julia Child visits you in your sleep, listen to what she says. We ate lunch at La Super-Rica and, on Saturday, CNN called the election.

Coincidence? I think not.

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Loteria & Gjelina

Carnitas Tacos with Green Salsa and Pico de Gallo

Baco Mercat and La Casita Mexicana

Make Your Own Taco Night

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