The best places for soup during a rainy week in Santa ClaritaSean Malin February 13, 2019 2 Comments
I find myself craving soup more than any other dish, regardless of the season. I’m not just talking about a chilly gazpacho in 110-degree heat, either: even during a Santa Clarita summer, nothing seems to hit the spot for me like a giant bowl of liquid goodness.
But on those days when I order soup with sweat dripping down
my back, I always get strange looks from other diners telling me I’ve picked
the wrong dish. So it is always with great pleasure that I welcome the gray
clouds that sometimes pass through our valley in winter – as I write this, a
week of storms has just begun to flood the city – because I can order whatever
I want without getting any guff. In fact, now I’m craving a quart-or-so serving
of one of the many delectable soups available at local SCV eateries. Here are a
few of my favorite options:
Masa Ramen – 27051 McBean Pkwy #101, Valencia CA 91355
Recommendation: Mabo Ramen
“Keep it simple”: The owners of Masa Ramen appear to have
taken this adage to heart, offering hardly a dozen dishes altogether from their
sparse menu. Since this micro-restaurant (a hole-in-the-wall in the truest
sense) has barely that many seats available, it’s hard to complain. Who would want
to, anyway, what with their exceptionally pungent, chili-rich Mabo Ramen and unlikely
but equally flavorful Vegetarian version?
Pho Viet – 18741 Soledad Canyon Rd., Canyon Country, CA 91351
Recommendation: 59. Bún bò Huế
More than perhaps any other restaurant on this list, Pho Viet is the paradigm for perfect cold-weather eating. Its 145-item menu is stocked not only with my favorite of the city’s phở dishes (eat your heart out, Pho Sure-stans!), but also deeply satisfying variations on bánh canh and hủ tiếu. Still, my personal preference lands with its spicy bún bò Huế stew, which I’ve gotten into the habit of ordering anytime I plan to see a movie across the street. If I was wiser, I’d just spend the night working my way through the many options at Pho Viet instead of wasting top dollar on tickets to Holmes & Watson.
Las 3 Marias Tacos Y Huaraches – 26881 Sierra Hwy, Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Recommendation: Menudo (When Available)
The one unfortunate quality of Las 3 Marias’ stupendous weekend menudo is how unpredictably it’s available. I’ve come to expect that, after opening on a Saturday morning, even a fresh cauldron of the stuff may have been drained to the dregs, whereas some Sunday nights are unexpectedly luckier. It can be disappointing to crave the soft give of oregano-scented tripe, only to find it sold out. Fear not, reader: this family-owned-and-operated Mexican joint pumps out equally-delicious huaraches that mercifully never seem to run out.
Cathy’s Delicatessen – 23120 Lyons Ave. #24, Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Recommendation: Matzo Ball Soup (Large Bowl)
I thought I would miss the matzo ball soup made at the previous Cathy’s and sold with a sparkling sour pickle. But under owner and chef Eric Tovar-Plummer – a notorious sweetheart who greets every table with a bearded smile – the balls, which were unmanageably large and a touch too marshallowy back then, have only improved in flavor and composition. That is to say, whatever blandness characterized the chicken broth of the previous owners has been altered in favor of a more savory, marrow-heavy taste that now pervades the more substantial hand-made matzo meal on offer here.
La Charrita – 24225 Main St., Santa Clarita 91321
As a long-time resident of Santa Clarita, I can be particularly critical of pozole: maybe there’s too much cabbage and not enough pork; or not enough lime, guajillo chiles, or onion, just a fatty pile of flavorless radishes diced and sloppily scooped into chicken broth. But La Charrita – which sometimes underwhelms in other ways, particularly with its claims of vegan-friendliness (vegan options are few than they appear) – makes an inimitable pozole rojo with peppers and perfectly softened hominy that reminds me of childhood ventures into Baja. The servings are sizable, too (as they should be at $11 a bowls). La Charrita also makes a tasty seafood soup, but with a $4 difference in price from the already-great pozole, it’s rare that I’m willing to splurge. Perhaps you will feel differently when you visit.
My Hot Pot – 26238 Bouquet Canyon Rd., Santa Clarita, CA 91350
Recommendation: Og Suki
This recommendation is something of a cheat, since hot pot isn’t exactly soup – it is typically more a fondue, with a simmering bowl of broth and foodstuffs dipped in while the pot is still heating. But My Hot Pot has chosen to go the easy route by creating their own pre-mixed bowls. Yes, the experience of self-spicing your broth and determining how long your meats, seafood and veggies sit in it is lost for their customers. But My Hot Pot makes up for the loss by stuffing its Og Suki – yet another spicy dish that contains everything but the kitchen sink – to the brim with goodies. Those hoping for a delicate sipping soup should beware, however: the Og Suki is as chunky as a soup can get without becoming chili.