Here I am sitting here with my belly full of enchiladas. Stuffed.
I have lived in many different towns in the state of California, some in Northern California, some in Southern California. I have come to a conclusion regarding mexican food. The farther away you go from the border the worse it gets!
Santa Cruz has o.k. mexican food. It could be worse.... and it definitely could be better. But there are places on this planet where mexican doesn't exist at all! Hard to imagine. I shudder to think that in some parts of the country the only thing people know of mexican food is Taco Bell. It is a totally different experience.
I couldn't tell you the difference in making the food, but my tongue knows. I think it might have to do with the lard in the beans or something. NorCal seems to specialize in unflavorful pinto beans and black beans. So Cal (and Mexico) seems to specialize in good 'ol REFRIEDS!
The best hole in the wall place to get yummy cheap mexican that I have ever tasted is Pedro's Tacos in San Clemente, CA. Yep, it's the best.
So if you live in Southern California, don't take your mexican food for granted. Bring on the lard! And if you were born and raised in Nor-Cal, maybe you might not even know the difference. But you know what they say, ignorance is bliss. And we can still enjoy mexican in our tamale barren land.