Nov. 14 2011 08:07 PM

City Heights Mexican eatery is great to-go

potatopattiessandiego
Potato patties
Photo by Amy T. Granite

If snacking were a sport, I'd be a world-class decathlete. With an ironclad gut and the stamina of Bruce Jenner in his heyday, my greatest challenge is finding a menu that doesn't wear me out—even after 10 visits. Super Cocina (3627 University Ave. in City Heights) is a restaurant I've recently championed, with 180 dishes that are mostly traditional, down-home stews from all over Mexico, rotating throughout the days and weeks so no two visits are alike.

Cafeteria-style dining it is, but gazing into the glass case with bright soups and stews changed my opinion after years of crappy school lunches. A group of ladies pack the nearby kitchen—each seemingly holding watch over her own steaming pot before rushing to restock dishes that taste like home no matter where in the world you're from.

Before you have to ask what's what, sample cups appear from the friendly cooks behind the counter. Hospitable? Yes. Paralyzing for the indecisive? Even more so. Do yourself a favor and just order it up—this food makes for excellent takeout and leftovers.

Since my snacking gear consists of a bathrobe and a roll of paper towels, I get it to-go. And no matter what I order, street-food antojitos, or “snacks”—like the fried potato and cheese patties—are a must. Order 'em a la carte or enjoy as they crumble into your $7.99 combination plate that includes any two items plus rice, beans and tortillas.

About the size of a large crab cake, smashed potatoes flavored with salty cotija cheese and black pepper are lightly breaded and fried. Someone will ask if you'd like crema and cheese on top—say “Si.” From a takeout standpoint, this sounds like a soggy mess in the making—but scraping off the toppings (that conveniently sit on a nest of shredded lettuce) before a quick pan fry does the trick. Re-top and enjoy; I've revived a few cold ones from the fridge this way. 

Unlike the main-dish stews, soups like albondigas and pork-rib pozole plus antojitos—including stellar chicken enchiladas for less than $2 a pop—are menu mainstays. Take it from a pro, after macking this comfort food, you'll be at your prime. 

Amy blogs at saysgranite.com and you can follow her on Twitter @saysgranite.

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28