A Tex-Mex tradition since 1941, this family-owned restaurant is a real treat. Sure, tourists flock here because they've heard it's lots of fun, but locals love this San Antonio tradition, too. The atmosphere is like a giant Mexican fiesta, with strolling mariachi musicians plucking big guitars and putting their heart into every traditional Mexican canción they sing. There's nowhere else quite like this in the Alamo City. Enter from El Mercado, or Market Square, as year-round twinkling Christmas lights and cutout paper banners in the colors of the Mexican flag greet you. To the left is a big dark lounge with an enormous oak bar like one you might find in a 19th-century Texas hotel. Mayan, Aztec, and Mexican symbols are carved into its rich dark wood. Enormous cool green margaritas circulate on trays. Across from the bar, to the right as you enter, is a traditional panederia, or Mexican bakery, with a glass case full of pink and white pan dulce (sweet breads) and colorful Mexican candies. Try an oreja, made of pastry dough, or a dry, crumbly cookie known as a polvorón. Just beyond the bakery sit three dining rooms. The first is my favorite, but the room in back has a big mural of famous folks from San Antonio that's worth seeing. Throughout the space the festive atmosphere creates a feast for the senses. Not sure what to try on the menu? Waiters will help, but I'd suggest Tex-Mex novices begin with a bowl of hot queso (cheese dip) and crispy tortilla chips. After that, move on to some typical Tex-Mex fare, like enchiladas verdes or chile rellenos. Expect big portions. Adventuresome diners should try something with the dark mole sauce, which is rich and thick, with chocolate notes. For something even a Yankee is sure to like, there are chicken flautas—corn tortillas stuffed with shredded tender chicken, rolled into flutes, and then fried. For diners having trouble deciding, there is a botanas platter, which allows for sampling several little antojitos ("little cravings," or appetizers). You'll be expected to tip the mariachis about $5 if you invite them to sing for your table, but it's worth it and draws everyone into the fun. Night or day, Mi Tierra offers an unforgettable San Antonio experience for families, couples, and even singles. I'll admit I've had better Tex-Mex fare, but I've rarely had a better time at a Tex-Mex restaurant. Did I mention it's open 24 hours? You can enjoy the same great food and fun at 2am that you get at 7pm seven days a week. By the way, I dropped by here on a weekday afternoon, and at the next table sat former President Bill Clinton and San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, along with former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros and current San Antonio mayor Julian Castro. What an afternoon delight to witness that power lunch!
San Antonio› Restaurant
Mi Tierra Café y Panederia
Market Square, 18 Produce Row
Our Rating Neighborhood Central/Downtown/Market Square (El Mercado) Hours Daily, 24 hours Phone 210/225-1262 Prices Breakfast $7–$10, lunch and dinner plates $8–$19 Amenities Daily 24 hours Cuisine Type Tex-Mex Web site Mi Tierra Café y Panederia