Day 26: Dia De Los Muertos

In case you missed this year’s crowning event at Hollywood Forever, there is still time to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos this week at Olvera Street .

Not to be confused with Halloween, it is a day for honoring our beloved ones who have passed.  This ancient Mexican tradtions brings together family, friends and loved ones.  So check out the calaveras, the alters and bring your stories of deceased loved ones to share.

Day 11: La Super Rica, Santa Barbara

As long as we were in the neighborhood…

We just finished our final (last daughter graduating elementary school) all school campout at El Capitan Canyon after 10 years of roughing it year after year.  That is, if you consider sleeping in cabins and having catered meals in the great outdoors roughing it!  So naturally the first thing my 10 year old asks as we are packing up the car is “Are we going to La Super Rica on the way home?”.  We haven’t passed it by ever since my dad turned us onto it about 8 years ago…

Isidoro Gonzales has greeted patrons with a smile ever since he opened this taqueria in 1980 and we are always happy to see him on the way home.  He gained instant credibility when Julia Child mentioned that it was her favorite mexican food restaurant and there’s been a line ever since.  You won’t see a big sign out front letting you know you’ve arrived.  Just look for the green awning and the line of people and you will know you’re there. 622 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, CA; 805-963-4940

Isidoro Gonzales at the helm

I tend to order off the daily special menu, which today was shredded beef tacos with avocado cream sauce. It was a tough decision as he had the tamal verdura on the menu today which is a vegetarian tamale with a tasty cream sauce over the top.  My husband, Michael tends to order the house special, the #16- a roasted pasilla chile stuffed with cheese and marinated pork served over two freshly made corn tortillas.  I should also mention that is is no sit down affair, you order at one window with Isidoro and pick up at the other window with his son. Once the food arrives you will be sitting on plastic chairs at a too small table under the awning outdoors and getting your own salsa in plastic cups by the take-out window.

Once we were seated, we realized that there were quite a few other “campers” who had the same idea.  What a perfect way to end a great weekend and the end of an era for us…

Day 6: Manuel’s El Tepeyac Cafe

Growing up,  if my family ever found ourselves in the vicinity of East L.A. at dinnertime there was only one place to go, El Tepeyac.  My father discovered the place when he was at the L.A. Police Academy (a job that didn’t last long) as a place that all the cops liked to eat at.  Thirty years later, Manuel still fondly calls my dad “Beachboy” knowing he lives on the Westside. 

My father and brother would get the famous Hollenbeck Burrito and I would always get the Taquitos a tradition that my ten year old is carrying on…  I don’t know what they do to make the guacamole so fantastic? Maybe because it’s texture is thick and not watered down like you find in most restaurants or that they are generous and not putting a miniscule drop of it on the plate, but just the thought of it makes my stomach grumble as I pass the Soto St. exit off the 10 freeway.  

The Hollenbeck  Burrito with its topping of cheesy, brothy, beefy deliciousness (photo below is from their website) is definitely a two person meal and the Manuel Special, I’d say a meal for a week!  They used to say if you could finish the Manuel Special by yourself, you would get another one free, though I never understood the logic in that.  I guess it was the original “Man vs. Food”.  

There is always a long line waiting for the sit down service, so we usually find ourselves at the takeout window on the other side of the restaurant and eat there.  Not for the feint of heart or for the girl who wants a salad and a glass of wine for dinner.  This is serious Mexican food, prepared the same way it was when I was a kid in a part of town that is sketchy at best, but oh man it’s worth it!