Thi N. | May 12, 200408:55 PM     27

Coming back from a weekend of swimming and hiking and fishing about Santa Barbara (caught my first river smallmouth bass. Yay!) and hungry. A fellow hiker suggested (via translation from my Spanish-savvy girlfriend) we find Milpa Street. Lo and behold, there's La Super Rica, of which I've heard a lot. I particularly remember some post from a while back, saying something like, what's good mexican in LA, and DON'T EVEN POST IF YOU AIN'T BEEN TO LA SUPER RICA, BECAUSE IF YOU AIN'T BEEN TO LA SUPER RICA YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT REAL MEXICAN IS.

Incredibly appetizing - fresh meats going on the grill, etc. etc.

It was pretty disappointing, actually.

Taco bisteca was sort of dry and flavorless. Nothing compared to, say, El Gran Burrito's $1 carne asada, let alone the glories of Gallo's Grill's wood-fire grilled steaks in East LA, nor the great carne asada of the northeast vendor of the southwest parking lot on the weekends at Alameda Swapmeet.

The incredibly appetizing-looking tacos de adobado turned out to be astonishingly flavorless - not as flavorless as the truly awful places of L.A., but far below any anonymous shack in East LA or East Hollywood, let alone a real pork specialist. They were *disturbingly* flavorless. Shouldn't adobado have *some* sort of flavor? Instead, try: grilled pork cuts at Guelaguetza, al pastor at Antonijero's, King Taco, or Taqueria Sanchez, or pretty much any roast or grilled pork at any joint in East LA.

Grilled peppers with cheese and adobo was again, strangely flavorless. I think they were the least pepper tasting grilled peppers I've had from a non-chain Mexican place in L.A.

Cheese with chorizo was odd - the cheese was, again, lacking in any flavor or fresh zest, and the chorizo was this strange, rubbery substance, tasting vaguely of old spices and completely unenjoyable. Also unlike in texture any chorizo I've had in East LA/East Hollywood/Mexico - not particulate, but having the injection-molded rubbery feel of, say, Chinese sausage. Try, instead: chorizo at the 8th street Guelaguetza, northern-style chorizo with cheese at Gallo's Grill. Both have intensely spiced, well-flavored, granular, porky, gorgeous chorizos.

Beans were indeed good - flavored and well spiced - but not quite as good as, say, the free beans at El Gran Burrito. (Which, admittedly, is slightly unfair - El Gran Burrito's free beans are the best I've ever had, and would gladly pay a hunk of change for 'em). Slightly less bean-y flavor, less toothsome texture than El Gran's, but with more pork fat and some extra spices.

Salsas were of the sort you get from your usual taco truck in LA - unfresh. Try anyplace that takes pride in its salsas - say, El Gran Burrito.

Hand-made tortillas were strikingly flavorless. Amy, my Mexico-wandering girlfriend, took one bite of one and gave it a shocked look. Try, say, the gorgeous puffy soft tortillas hand-patted at that birria joint on 3rd street or Cesar Chevez... El... er... can't remember again... help...

Anyway, yeah. It tastes a lot like all those places that get lauded here that I despise - Yuca's, Burrito King, El Siete Mares - which share the traits of:
1. Being, in my humble estimation, far less good than even an average East LA/West LA/East Hollywood Mexican place.
2. Strikingly, being quite close to some non-Mexican hipster enclave.

I normally don't like to criticize - I figure everybody's taste is their taste, and what each person loves is their own, and what gives you pleasure is unchallangeable - but I'm convinced that the touting of genuinely flavorless places like this is partially through lack of experience. I have met nobody - *NOBODY* - who's been to a few East LA places and a few choice other LA places - who still stands by Yuca's/Burrito King/El Siete Mares.

So, maybe I'm wrong. I'll gladly put my foot in my mouth, if you can show me the wonder of any of these places. But, if you're willing:

Instead of Yuca's carnitas, try carnitas at... well, lots of places, but especially La Indiana Tamales in East LA.

Instead of El Siete Mares, try ceviche at La Playita on Lincoln, and fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada (holy!), or some TacoNazos.

Instead of Burrito King, go down a few blocks to El Gran Burrito and have a carne asada taco. At night. Past 8. Otherwise, you get warmed over stuff.

Instead of Alegria, try, er, I don't know, sucking on your shoe. Sorry, I hate this place a lot. Well, instead of their mole, try mole at: Guelageutza, Juquila, the new place at Wilton and Melrose, or El Sazon Oaxaquena.

Sorry. In the end, La Super Rica is not *bad*. If I'd had it vaguely nearby in, say, Boston, I would have patronized it. I mean, if this were an issue of it not being as good as most places in Mexico, I wouldn't be harping. But East LA, for god's sake! East Hollywood! The idea of somebody from LA getting *excited* about going to Santa Barbara for La Super Rica *boggles my mind*.

Probably the closest for an overall experience would be Gallo's Grill, the Northern Mexican steakhouse. Which is about 10 or 12 times better, for maybe a few dollars more.

Again, if it's just a difference of taste, I'll happily go screw myself and everybody can ignore this post. But I'm going out on a limb here, and guessing - that once you start wandering East LA, La Super Rica will fade.

But then again, maybe I'm wrong.

Feel free to crucify me.


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