Taostada de Carne Asada appetizer. Photo courtesy of Mi Tierra Restaurant
The grumblings of “where can I get a decent taco in this town?” have long been echoing throughout the Shanghai expat crowd since basically the dawn of the Shanghai expat crowd. To ease this age-old gripe, there have been plenty of “solutions” cropping up over the years: hearty Cantina Agave, classy Maya and the down-and-dirty Togo, to name a few. Well, here’s another remedy to add to the mix: Mi Tierra – where authentic ingredients are given an upscale twist. But by upscale, don’t you dare go thinking Mexican “fusion,” because, as the name suggests, this restaurant is all about recreating the Mexican food of “my land…my family…my tradition.”
Executive director Oscar Bedolla, who previously outsourced homemade Mexican frozen foods, has made the jump to full-fledged restaurant owner this February with the opening of the three-story Mi Tierra in the French Concession. In tandem with head chef Gabriela Fernandez (a former chef at Maya who hails from Mexico), the two entrepreneurs have created a menu that’s an upscale take on some down-home cooking.
The menu was still being finalized at this time, but what was offered thus far kept the mouth watering.
A standout appetizer is the “Beef Coyotas” (65RMB) – 3 thick, homemade corn tortillas filled with slow-cooked pieces of spice-infused beef, a light layer of melted cheddar cheese and topped with fresh, crispy lettuce, cold diced tomatoes and a sprinkling of crumbled sour cream. Its presentation was creative, the portion was filling and overall it was a nice reprieve from the gobs of gooey-ness that usually adorn my favorite Mexican dishes.
Next up, the “taco bar” menu presents a wide selection of interesting and fun taco choices served a la carte, each in a homemade corn-tortilla. For the price of 65RMB, you can choose 3 tacos from an extensive list of about 15. Half the fun was selecting my much-thought-over personal combo…grilled serrano chilies & asadero cheese anyone? (single tacos are 22-27RMB each).
The main dishes were a little steep for shallow pockets, with most starting at 165RMB, however the adage: “you pay for what you get” probably applies here. My “Costilla de Lechon en Mole Verde” was a gorgeous presentation of sizzling pork covered generously in tangy green mole sauce and delivered to the table in a fire-heated clay pot. The pork slipped off the bone and right into the warm tortillas and Mexican rice that accompanied the dish.
The ambiance of Mi Tierra is also one of its defining features – its colorful lighting, soaring ceilings and spacious rooms is a grandiose take on the traditional hacienda. This stately 1920’s villa has been made over into a 3-story celebration of all things Mexican, complete with an art gallery, Latin dancing space and private dining area for special events and corporate functions. On the main floor, you can dine under the sun or stars in the large dining room which boasts marble floors and a vaulted glass ceiling 20 meters high. Located in the front of the house is the fun, but elegant “Coyote Lounge,” which in addition to serving up a mean margarita, also doubles as a “Taco Bar” offering finger foods and light snacks.
The place is a great spot for both a romantic dinner for two, or a classy night out with the whole gang. Its authenticity is done right with delicious and creative dishes in an ambiance that is upscale and fun. But Mi Tierra does not offer “authentic” Mexican prices, bringing us patrons back to the cold, hard reality that true Mexican in Shanghai can be a pricey (and ever elusive) treat.
Mi Tierra Restaurant & Taco Bar – 17 Yongjia Rd, near Maoming Rd, 永嘉路17号， 近茂名路, Tel: 021-5465-5837
Soft opening hours: 5pm to 10:30pm last order, Monday to Saturday. Lunch and Sunday brunch coming soon.