Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Taqueria Mi Tierra is in the former Mannie's spot at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • From left, cucumber, guava and pineapple sorbets at Taqueria Mi Tierra at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • Taqueria Mi Tierra is in the former Mannie's spot at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • The Parrillada platter at Taqueria Mi Tierra at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • Enchiladas platter at Taqueria Mi Tierra at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • A tripe taco at Taqueria Mi Tierra at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • The malcajete at Taqueria Mi Tierra at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • Flautas platter at Taqueria Mi Tierra at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • Pastor nachos at Taqueria Mi Tierra at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

  • Taqueria Mi Tierra is in the former Mannie's spot at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 1:00 am

Taqueria pleases with plenty of flavor, variety

RYAN DUVALL | The Journal Gazette

Mi Tierra

***1/2

Out of a possible five

$

I go through the song and dance every time a little restaurant opens.

Mom-and-pop places seemingly open and close every week, so I often have to wait to make sure they are going to stick before I check them out.

In the case of Taqueria Mi Tierra at Calhoun Street and Creighton Avenue in the spot that was once Mannie's Place, I had already been fooled once. A different taqueria opened there a couple of years ago and quickly closed.

But when a trusted foodie friend offered to buy me lunch at Mi Tierra and I discovered not only how good the food was but how unique its offerings were, there was no need to wait any longer.

Mi Tierra is owned by a family from Guanajuato, Mexico, which also owns a grocery of the same name on New Haven Avenue. So it was not surprising that the freshness of the food was one of the restaurant's greatest assets.

By far the best thing I had in terms of flavor and value was the Parrillada, which means barbecue.

This barbecue came in the form of a sizzling, family-sized platter topped with a gorgeous arranged mix of carne asada steak, chorizo, pressed chicken breasts, grilled cactus, a whole charred jalapeņo pepper, onion petals and whole bulbs and fresh, white Mexican cheese. It was paired with flour or corn tortillas and fresh limes. The platter could easily feed three adults and costs only $14.99.

The steak was fantastic – tender, juicy and already marinated with a little lime to give it flair – as was the chicken, and mixing those with some of the zesty ground Mexican sausage, a hunk of the creamy cheese and cactus made for masterful tacos.

Two of us split it for lunch and found it hard to stop eating even though it was way more than we could handle.

A similar mix of ingredients are offered in a slightly smaller size in a hot stone bowl. It is dubbed the Molcajete, which is the Spanish name for that mortar bowl. It did not have the onion petals but did include fresh avocado, which I will add to my next Parrillada.

Another great find was a much more American-style Mexican offering. Mi Tierra's chicken flautas were some of the best I have had. I usually opt for beef in the deep-fried, stuffed flour tortillas because the chicken often gets too dry when done this way. Not at Mi Tierra.

Not only was the shredded chicken perfect, the shells puffed up nicely in the fryer so they were light and crispy. Flanked by Mexican rice and refried beans and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and avocado, these flautas were fantastic.

All of the tacos I tried were top-notch, too, with a rather unique one confusing me as much as it satisfied.

Mi Tierra offered tripe tacos, which I cannot recall seeing at many other taco places. But instead of getting the usual spongy, segmented chunks of beef stomach, the tripe in this taco were small, tubular pieces that looked more like intestine.

Whatever it was, I loved it because the grilling of it gave it a little snap like a sausage casing and it sort of reminded me of fried chicken skin. The flavor was mild, and I find myself craving another one of these tacos as I write this.

You can give your nachos some taco flair by having them with one of the many meats offered instead of just ground beef or chicken. I chose the al pastor – marinated pork – for my nachos. The big plate was loaded with the smoky red meat, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeņos, a few pickled carrots, sour cream and shredded white cheese and white queso sauce. The combination of the cheeses made these nachos real winners, and I will be going back for them.

I will not be going back for the enchiladas, however. They were the only dish that I did not care for at this little place. They were filled with the same quality chicken as the flautas, but the bright red sauce that enrobed them was way too spicy for a timid palate, was thick and sort of pasty and really didn't add any flavor.

The fresh fruit waters and horchata were very flavorful. The horchata had more cinnamon punch than most and the bright orange melon water fabulously tamed the food's spice.

But the best ways to cool off your palate were some of Mi Tierra's sorbets. The guava had a sort of cotton candy flavor to it and the pineapple was straightforward and very refreshing. The most refreshing was the cucumber, but beware that it had chili flecks in it so it didn't cool things off that much. But it was the one I liked the most.

The owners have done as much as they can to spruce up this rather dated space, painting it, adding new tables and the heavy multicolored chairs that so many Mexican eateries now use, but there is not much in the way of atmosphere. The service was warm and welcoming, but there was a bit of a communication issue, so I struggled to get answers to basic questions. There was a lot of pointing to pictures or numbers on the menu to ensure my order was taken correctly.

The menus were also a bit confusing. One wall is covered with photos of dishes and their prices and many of those did not appear on the menus I was given at the table. So be sure to check out the wall before making your choice.

Restaurant: Taqueria Mi Tierra

Address: 2302 S. Calhoun St.

Phone: 210-3794

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Cuisine: Mexican

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: None

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Tacos ($1.89), flautas ($5.99), Molcajete ($13.99), nachos ($7.99), enchiladas ($7.99), sorbet ($1.50)

Rating breakdown: Food: *** (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 0 (1 maximum), service: 1/2 (1 maximum)

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall's past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.