Mi Tierra Mexican Grill & Bakery
397 N. Ventura Ave.  
Ventura
628-3448  
$3.25 – $9.75

I have been watching with eager anticipation as I saw the signs, “Mi Tierra Mexican Grill opens soon.” I was very pleased to find on the breakfast menu huevos divorciados, a competing taste of mild red chili over one fried egg and a hotter, spicier red chili over the other fried egg. Served over tasty and fresh corn tortillas, this breakfast made me look forward to other menu offerings. Another morning at breakfast, I chose the special cheese omelet, served with country potatoes and a bowl of fruit. While this seemed a bargain at $5.99, I was disappointed to have the nicely fluffed eggs covering some not-very-melted queso fresco, soggy and very much in need of salt, cubed potatoes (lukewarm), and some non-buttered white-bread toast. The accompanying little bowl of grapes, pineapple chunks and one bite of strawberry was not up to par.

I will admit each meal is accompanied by fresh-tasting tricolor corn tortilla chips (red, green, and yellow) and a very nicely green chili and tomatillo salsa heavily favoring the freshly chopped cilantro leaves throughout. These are those sort of chips you just keep eating and eating, and the green salsa is very appetizing indeed. One day at lunch, the chef sent over a taste of his special poblano soup: a green creamy triumph of a hearty soup, loaded with corn, finely diced pasilla and poblano chilies and hints of garlic and onions and, of course, coriander and cilantro. I accompanied the soup with a chili relleno (to complement the chili taste); unfortunately, the egg batter around the chili was bland and the queso inside the relleno was not creamy and melted, but rather crumbly and not slow cooked as is standard. I was very happy with the soup; not so with the relleno.

A good dinner choice at Mi Tierra is the camarones à la diabla, a scampi-like creation with a fiery chili sauce over sautéed shrimp; served with rice and beans, this is a filling and hearty meal for $9.75. The beans at Mi Tierra are exceptionally good and fresh tasting. The pinto flavor and whole beans only slightly mashed give the refried beans a very strong and authentic bean flavor, and it is one of the standout side dishes served at this restaurant. The rice is standard-issue Mexican rice, but always tastes fresh and as though it has been very prepared with care and mindfulness — just flaky enough and subtle in favor and tenderness.

One of my favorite dishes is a well-prepared simple posole. Saturdays and Sundays at Mi Tierra, both posole and menudo are offered, and I was pleased to find the posole to be very basic and simple, pork roast boiled in chili with onions and an added generous portion of very fresh tasting, large hominy kernels. Quite often, kitchens will throw lots of extra ingredients into their posole; thankfully, Mi Tierra keeps the very basic and simple delicious flavor of this dish intact without cabbage, oregano or whatever else seems to be a necessary ingredient. I always prefer the simpler preparation for standard dishes like posole, and was not disappointed at all with Mi Tierra’s version. The posole is served with three potato taquitos, which makes for a very interesting combination of flavors.  

I’m very fond of Mi Tierra’s homemade horchata, just the right amount of sweetness blended into the rice milk beverage and a very mild hint of cinnamon. I really like a homemade horchata rather than the prepared kind found in so many Mexican restaurants.  Occasionally, it will offer a Jamaica as well, good but not quite sweet enough, and the horchata is so good that anything else would be a disappointment.

All in all, I’ve given Mi Tierra quite a few chances to amaze me, but so far it is just average in most areas. The bakery is still filled with the very fresh and wonderful pastries and breads, and I’m sure I’ll pick up a pan de muerto, but I’m still looking for a great meal at Mi Tierra. This nice, clean and comfortable airy space needs to have a little more attention paid to its menu and preparation. Still, those tricolor chips and tomatillo salsa are very addicting.