I'm a bit stubborn.
Anyone who knows me and is reading along is probably chuckling right now, as "a bit" is probably an understatement. It runs in the family. One day, my mother asked the ex how the three generations of women in our family are alike. He deadpanned, "well you're all stubborn!"
Weird things make me dig my heels in. When it comes to food, I get incredibly stubborn about going to places that are wildly popular, or that everyone seems to love. I don't want to be one of the herd of cattle, all shuffling off to the Cheesecake Factory, so I often try and find a lesser known restaurant or one that's not as popular but just as good.
This was the case for years with La Super Rica Taqueria in Santa Barbara. It's the taqueria that Julia Child allegedly loved when she lived in Santa Barbara. It's the taqueria that was mentioned by Michael Vaughn on Alias when he was trying to woo Sydney up the coast on a vacation with him. It's the taqueria that is on the top of the "must go" list of many Californians. Every time I drive by LSR, there are lines out the door. And so I got stubborn. I found excellent tacos nearby and decided that I wasn't missing much by never going there.
Last December, I drove down the coast with my friend Jeanne. She and I were both going to visit our respective families in Southern California, and so we decided to make a fun road trip out of the journey. The theme of this road trip? Tacos along the coast. It was a fun drive, and I believe we tasted 20 tacos over two days.
One of the highlights of the trip was La Super Rica. I took a deep breath, and prepared myself not to like it. When we snaked through the line and into the door, I noticed fresh tortillas being made in the back. My resolve began to crack a bit. By the time we got to the counter, we had broken our "two tacos per location" rule and tried four tacos. The one that stood out -- the one that still makes my mouth water 10 months later -- was calabacitas in a dark sauce with pork. Delicious with an herbal flavor made from a generous helping of epazote, the taco was one of the best that I've had this year ("I think it was epazote," Jeanne said when I just called her to fact check, "I don't remember, I was in a taco haze.").
I stopped by LSR for a second time yesterday. It was late afternoon so the line was relatively short, and I had an article that I'd been wanting to read, so I didn't mind the wait. After about 10 minutes, I tucked into my rajas taco and a taco of pork adobado -- a marinated pork with chiles. Rajas has been my dish of the summer, and I have made it several times at home. This rendition had a small amount of heat and was runny with cheese and studded with onions. Though it didn't make for a very good picture, the result was delicious and worth jumping on the bandwagon for.
La Super Rica Taqueria
622 N. Milpas Street, Santa Barbara
(P.S. - I'm home!)