"Super" seemed to be our theme for the day. Following our lunch at Super Pollo!, we followed up with dinner at Super Antojitos Tepa (as in Tepatitlan). This was on the recommendation of the same friend who had sent us to Super Pollo.
The layout at Tepa is a little funny. There's a long counter with the kitchen and cleaning area behind it but they're not walled off. Red checker cloth-topped tables are arranged in an L-shape around it. But there are also a couple of round 4-tops behind the counter. We took one of those, and I said to my sister that our proximity to the action going on at the flat top and behind the counter position made this a "chef's table".
Soft and pillowy hand-made corn tortillas (tortillas hechas a mano) are part of the upgrade to the larger size "super taco" priced at $2 vs. the 99¢ regular size. We tried two tacos - lengua and carnitas. The lengua was not so good - Mom objected to the amount of beef from the surrounding parts included with it, plus it was barely warm. On the other hand, Stephanie's freshly made carnitas, torn into big tender chunks with crisp roasted edges, were about the best we've had in a long while. Just great. The salsas on these were complex and spicy too.
William had the camerones rancheros plate ($9.99) which came with not only refritos, beans, and salad, but also a big pile of fries added on top of everything. The juicy shrimp were carefully cooked and not overdone, and the ranchero sauce was flavorful if not that spicy hot. The french fries, that were not part of the photo of the dish on the menu board, were very good. His rice was tepid. This was accompanied by four of those lovely handmade tortillas.
I had the enchiladas de camarones ($7.99) plate which was also memorably delicious. The first bites of the rice and the enchilada were cold (with unmelted jack cheese inside), so I sent it back. It took a long time to come back, but it was so worth it! They'd remade my whole plate from scratch and piping hot, as the pair of enchiladas were intact and instead of refritos, I now had some creamy whole peruanos dusted with queso fresco. The enchiladas used the handmade corn tortillas, and I was amazed at what it difference it makes even for something like this. These were not a saucy style, just dipped in chile sauce and rolled around chunks of griddled shrimp and some shredded jack cheese. It was topped with a couple slices of tomato crowned with crema and queso fresco. The peruanos had great flavor from some lard and the rice was light and delicate. When I finished my food, I noticed that unlike the enchilada plates at some of our local eateries, this one didn't leave a puddle of oil behind. Simple, finesseful, so good.
I also ordered a fresh orange juice (celery and carrot are also available), $2.50. It was squeezed to order and our waiter strained it to remove the fiber.
As noted above, there were numerous food temperature problems. The service, while gracious, was also spotty. We had to remind our server to bring our drinks - and then my sister noticed that he went to the sink to wash some glasses himself for us to use. My brother's food came way before the rest of our, and we polished off most of his fries before the other plates arrived. There's no tap water available for drinking. And, lastly, the bill isn't itemized, the server just tells you the total.
The service issues made my mother and brother pretty grouchy. William said he thought the food was really good, but he'd not come back. My sister and I thought it seemed like they were short one person or so, as there seemed to be a mad scramble between the servers and the kitchen and dishwashing crew to take care of each order. We both said we'd come back - the food was that good - but probably pick a less busy time.
Note: the numbered photos of the dishes on display do not correspond to the numbers on the printed menu, so order carefully. With the evening's confusion, we also suspect that the extra fries might have been a mistake.
Super Antojitos Tepa
(small house across the street from Foods Co. supermarket)
1039 E Alisal