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.