Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Assaulting the Senses in San Antone’

Mi Tierra Café
218 Produce Row
San Antonio, TX
Visited October 21, 2010

Beer selection: Excellent variety of Mexican beers.

Food: Top notch Mexican cuisine.

Part of the fun of this “Suits” gig is discovering those little hole-in-the-wall, out-of-the-way dives off the radar of most travelers.

Mi Tierra Café is NOT one of those places.

Mobbed with tourists and locals alike at literally any hour around the clock, dinning at Mi Tierra is an event – an obligatory experience for anyone who steps foot in San Antonio.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve dined here. In fact, if it weren’t for the pictures, I might not have memories of some of those 3am post-Fiesta enchiladas I’ve enjoyed over the years.

That’s the kind of place this is -- no one feels the least bit bashful about pulling out the camera during a Mi Tierra celebration.

Heck, even Lyle Lovett sings about capping off a fun-filled night in the Mission City at Mi Tierra with his “San Antonio Girl” and a Polaroid camera.

A sprawling San Antonio landmark for 70 years that brags in bright neon “We Never Close”, Mi Tierra’s is loud, brash, ostentatious, over-the-top. An assault on the senses. And more fun than watching Salma Hayek lose a water balloon fight.

The armies of friendly waitresses are all dolled up in big poufy dresses the color of the Mexican flag. Huge brightly-colored murals of Mexicans famous and provincial cover every wall. Strolling Mariachi musicians troll for romantic couples and fun-loving groups willing to exchange five bucks for a song.

It’s just not physically possible to leave this place in a bad mood.

Of course, the giant margaritas and large selection of Mexican beers might have something to do with that too.

But, alas, this was a work day for Suit757.

Alone in a sea of frivolity, wearing a suit, drinking San Antonio tap water. And I still left in a good mood.

The fact that amid all the Christmas lights and vivid decorations, Mi Tierra’s serves outstanding Mexican cuisine certainly helps.

My Enchiladas Nortenas was the Thursday lunch special. Six bucks for enough food to last me another 19 hours before my next meal.

Of course, like every good Mexican restaurant, a meal at Mi Tierra’s is preceded by chips and salsa. But unlike your local corner order-by-numbers Mexican joint, Mi Tierra’s homemade salsa kicks your taste buds. Spicy and downright addictive.

The enchiladas were stuffed with shredded beef and topped with an avalanche of delicious Mexican sauce, melted Monterrey Jack cheese and fried potatoes. The plate was filled out with refried beans and rice.

Definitely one of the best enchiladas I’ve ever had. Like everything else about Mi Tierra’s, everything on my plate was at least a notch above the ordinary.

Of course it is literally impossible to dine at Mi Tierra’s without marveling at the 40 foot long display case of desserts and baked goods. You have to walk right by it coming and going. Tourists are snapping pictures of the pralines, sweet breads and empanadas like paparazzi on Wilshire Boulevard.

A praline or two is absolutely obligatory.

The Food Network once did an entire segment on the making of Mi Tierra’s famous pecan treats. Apparently, pumpkin is the secret ingredient.

Along with lots and lots of sugar. These pralines are so sweet, it feels like the sugar is going to melt right into your teeth.

While it wasn’t quite as fun as some previous 3am visits, I’m pretty sure I savored and appreciated my enchiladas and pralines a bit more this time. Assault on my senses complete, I ventured out into the high-noon Texas sun ready to face my Suit757 day with a smile on my face.

Rating: Bought the Shirt!

Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon


  1. Mi Tierra ... all these years, all them tourists, and still the locals will go if somebody comes from out of town. Otherwise we go to Pico, just the other side of the freeway. Same owners, same good food, better ambience.

    When you come back to San Antonio, let me know and I'll take you for some real (Tex-Mex) Mexican food.