Overview: When the old Copper Keg bid farewell to Belmont Shore back in the early ‘90s, residents wondered what would become of the beer-laden space at the west end of Second Street. Within weeks the guessing game was over with the arrival of SuperMex which, of course, needed no introduction for longtime residents.
The Orozco Family opened its first SuperMex in 1974 on First Street in Downtown Long Beach and slowly expanded to other areas of the city and neighboring environs. Today there are 14 SuperMex locations, including two restaurants in Las Vegas, as well as a new taco truck, which joins the legions of “gourmet” food trucks infiltrating the streets and parking lots of Southern California.
Decor: When SuperMex first opened in Belmont Shore it was a no-frills operation. The exposed brick walls were bare, seating was strictly a self-serve affair, the simple menu listed the items on salsa-stained paper, and paying by credit card was unthinkable.
These days a hostess shows you to your table, the walls are now hung with paintings and bric-a-brac, the laminated menu displays food images, and the restaurant gladly accepts plastic in lieu of cash. A few years after opening, a back patio and second dining room became available after the neighboring fish market closed.
The food: While SuperMex’s business model has changed (yes, it’s still family owned but no longer the small operation it once was), its menu of family-style Mexican food remains as delicious as ever. The trademark chips and salsa are a SuperMex staple with whole, deep-fried tortillas and small bowls of zesty salsa arriving as soon as you are seated. Combination meals allows guests to mix and match their entrees--enchiladas and tacos, chile rellenos and taquitos, tamales and huevos rancheros--which are accompanied by a generous helping of rice and beans.
The less ambitious can order from the a la carte menu, which includes an array of burritos, tacos, enchiladas, taquitos and tostadas. Burritos, which are served “wet” and dressed with ranchero sauce, come in two sizes, Junior Mex and Super Mex, and are served with rice, beans, lettuce, cheese and guacamole.
In recent years the menu has expanded to include appetizers and lighter fare, such as whole wheat quesadillas and chicken bowls with green rice, but it’s the traditional Mexican specialties that are SuperMex’s calling card. And unlike the old days, SuperMex has a kids menu, too. And, speaking of ninos – kids eat free on Wednesday nights when accompanied by a paying adult. Ka-ching!
Service: It used to be that the service at SuperMex was as minimal as the décor. Guests were required to write their names on the wait list (that is, if they could locate it), show themselves to an available table and, when it came time to order, flag down the nearest waiter who was likely in charge of the entire room. But these days the restaurant is all about guest service employing a friendly and accommodating wait staff.
And if anyone is still mourning the loss of the Copper Keg (come on, it’s been almost 20 years!), time to dry those tears. SuperMex serves beer and wine, too.
Address: 4711 E. Second Street, Belmont Shore
Hours: Daily from 10:30 a.m.
Disabled Access: Yes
Parking Info: Small lot behind restaurant, metered parking along Second Street, paid lots within walking distance.
Restaurant type: Mexican
Restaurant attributes: Casual, indoor and outdoor seating. Beer and wine. Credit cards accepted. Kids eat free on Wednesday nights.