100 Favorite Restaurants: Taco Heaven

  • Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    2005 Beckmen Purisima Mountain Vineyard Marsanne and 2005 Saxum James Berry Vineyard. Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
<< Back to Robb Report, May 2008
  • Sheila Gibson Stoodley

Isidoro Gonzalez opened La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara, Calif., 28 years ago because he wanted to serve tacos like those that he had eaten while living in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Gonzalez, who is now 58, piled grilled meats, fresh chilies, vegetables, and melted Monterey Jack cheese onto corn tortillas and quickly gained fans. His greatest champion was Julia Child, who first approached his take-out window in 1982. She became a regular customer and a friend, paying her final visit two months before she died, in 2004. “Many times, when she was interviewed in magazines, she would mention us,” Gonzalez says. “She put us on the map, and she kept us on the map.” As many as 500 people patronize the taqueria daily, standing in long lines to satisfy their cravings.

Two of the winemakers we polled chose La Super-Rica as one of their favorite restaurants: Steve Beckmen of Beckmen Vineyards in Los Olivos, Calif., and Justin Smith of Saxum Vineyards in Paso Robles, Calif. If the stand were licensed to sell wine, Beckmen would pair his 2005 Beckmen Purisima Mountain Vineyard Marsanne with La Super-Rica Especial, his favorite menu item. For this dish, Gonzalez stuffs bell pepper–sized spicy chilies with marinated pork and vegetables. Beckmen usually requests melted cheese on his. “The Marsanne has the weight to hold up to the richness of the dish,” he says, “and it is crisp enough to handle the spice.”

Smith’s favorites are Rajas, slow-cooked poblano peppers, onions, and melted cheese on a tortilla, and a fundito, or bowl of cheese, with bacon. Smith would pair both with the 2005 Saxum James Berry Vineyard, a Syrah-based blend. “The wine has the tannin to cut through all the cheese,” he says, “the sweet fruit to hold up to the spice of the poblano peppers, a nose of smoked meats that would complement the bacon, and the acidity to hold it all together.”

La Super-Rica, Santa Barbara, Calif., 805.963.4940

From Around the Web...
Photo by Stripsteak Wakiki
The Oahu restaurant’s menu includes steak and seafood dishes with Japanese and Hawaiian influences…
Meet the leading New York chefs who will be making the most of this fall’s harvest…
Ossetra caviar is just one of the pricy premium ingredients in this off-menu dish from Petrossian…
Photo by Pierre Monetta
In the hands of top chefs in Paris, a culinary tradition rises again…
The luminaries of modernist cuisine keep giving us reasons to love their fancy food.…
The dinner series will feature guest lectures given by leading medical professionals…
Photo by Meg Smith
Quince restaurant tightens its connection to a grower and offers some of the bounty to the public…
The height of summer is the best time for amazing produce at your local greenmarket…
Meatmaster Pat LaFrieda explains the magic of dry-aging beef…
In Tokyo, some of the city’s best steaks are eaten on the fly.…