Hovering just outside of Oro Valley exists one of those “inexhaustible Mexican delights” that seems to fill many of Tucson’s streets.
Mi Tierra, officially located within Catalina’s borders off N. Oracle Rd., has been serving authentic Mexican food since 1986, and this past week I had the opportunity to experience it for myself.
I visited the restaurant with a few friends, and the meal started off on a positive note when our server immediately greeted us with a basket of warm tortilla chips—prepared with 100-percent cholesterol free vegetable oil. The salsa that accompanied the chips was outstanding, which came as no surprise when I found out it is prepared daily using the freshest tomatoes, onions, and chilies available.
My guests and I ordered a cheese crisp for an appetizer ($8.75), and we opted to add green chilies for an additional $1.50. It was worth it; presented on a large, silver platter, the crisp was larger than we anticipated, but delicious. The cheese to crust ratio was favorable as a thick layer of cheeses enveloped the thin, flakey, crust, which was covered in a light coat of grease. The green chilies added a nice touch of spice, but I also asked for an additional bowl of salsa to douse my portion of the crisp.
The main courses were also a success, because unlike many Mexican restaurants where the food comes out right away, we had to wait for our dishes. This is not to say we were waiting for a long time, it was just evident that our dishes were prepared specifically for us, as they came out piping hot.
One of my guests inquired about what he should order, and the server recommended their most popular dish—Señor Larry’s Especial—a chicken burrito, smothered in green tomatillo sauce, topped with guacamole and sour cream, and served with rice and beans. For $11.95, the burrito was massive—even larger than one from Chipotle.
The highlight of this “Especialidad de la Casa,” or, “House Special,” was definitely the spicy tomatillo sauce, and my guest was kind enough to let me try a few bites.
The other guest who was with me had no trouble immediately identifying what she wanted for dinner - the number 7 Combination Platter, which consisted of a Flat Enchilada, a Shredded Beef Taco, Rice and Beans for $11.25. This dish was most notable because of the Flat Enchilada, which is a very unique Mexican dish that is even more difficult to find. Mi NIdito in downtown Tucson is the only other Mexican restaurant where I have ever encountered it. This untraditional take on the Enchilada contains corn masa that is pounded into a thin disc, fried, and smothered in red sauce.
My Combination Platter, the number 6 ($11.50), also came out steaming and consisted of a Chile Relleno, Bean Tostada, and Rice. The Chile Relleno was my favorite part of the meal, as it was filled with thick, gooey cheese, and had the perfect amount of spice. The bean tostada was nothing special though, and next time I will likely order the Chile Relleno on its own, or try something new.
To conclude, the meal we ordered Sopapillas for dessert. Although they take about 10 minutes to prepare, this fried Mexican dough is worth waiting for as it comes out hot with powdered sugar. It is also served with a bottle of honey, allowing you to pour with your own discretion. The portion size is also generous as there are four pieces per order for $6.50.
Pulling off of Interstate 77 and into the parking lot of Mi Tierra reveals a building adorned with Christmas lights, which are probably year-round fixtures. The interior is just as one might expect of a Mexican food eatery, as it contains more Christmas lights, bright artwork, and decorative figurines. Nonetheless, just as the online menu promises, Mi Tierra was successful in delivering a taste of Old Mexico, and I recommend it to anyone in the mood for an authentic Mexican treat.