Of The Week
It’s Tierras Mexicanas
For Upscale Mexican Cuisine
I’m going to begin this article by telling what Tierras Mexicanas is not. Tierras Mexicanas is definitely not a take-out style taqueria. It’s not a fast food Mexican place where everything is covered in refried beans and cheese. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of place.) Tierras Mexicanas definitely is an upscale, yet comfortable and affordable restaurant that features top notch Mexican and Mexican influenced cuisine, served in a very pleasant atmosphere. Owners Edwin Lopeda and Salvador Negreros have over ten years experience in high-end Mexican restaurants and are always on hand to insure a happy dining experience, often giving away free dishes to try or drinks to sample.
Opened just six months ago, Tierras Mexicanas is conveniently located on the corner of 31st Street and 36th Avenue, making it a perfect after work spot to relax with one of their fabulous margaritas or daiquiris at Happy Hour, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m. Flavored daiquiris such as mango, guava, strawberry and banana will tickle your tongue, while all margaritas are made with blue agave tequila, the finest available. Their fruity sangria and several varieties of martinis, including green apple and watermelon, are also worth a try. Check their ad for daily drink specials.
While we reveled in the sunny yellow and blue Aztec décor, we nibbled on fresh tortilla chips served with both tomato and green tomatillo salsa, which were presented, side by side. A bowl of freshly made, chunky guacamole was bursting with flavor and freshness. Rhythmic Latin music and soft lights completed the comfortable atmosphere while Lopeda described his favorite dishes to us. One of the house special appetizers is the papa rellena, a crispy potato shell filled with a mildly spiced stew of tender seafood, which includes shrimp, scallops and rings of calamari. The ancho chili seasoning was just enough to complement the seafood flavor ($8). Traditional quesadillas took on a new flavor when filled with wild mushrooms and topped with green tomatillo salsa, crema fresca and cotija cheese ($6). A bowl of tomato broth with shrimp and vegetables is another great way to start your meal, as is the house salad, tossed with greens, tomatoes and sliced avocados in a tangy dressing. Ceviche, a marinated fish salad, is served with either fresh salmon or shrimp that has been marinated in zesty citrus and tossed with red onion, tomatoes and cilantro ($5). This is another of my favorite dishes.
The entrees at Tierras Mexicanas will surprise and delight with their freshness and inventiveness. I was very impressed with the chef’s new addition to the menu, puerco Azteca, a tender and juicy pork chop cooked to perfection, atop a mound of creamy mashed potatoes studded with dice of green apple and bits of chorizo sausage. The chorizo lends a smoky taste and the apple gives these mashed potatoes a unique texture and flavor that really complements the pork. Beautifully presented whole red snapper is deboned and pan roasted till crisp on the outside. It is then filled with seasoned rice and finished with roasted garlic sauce. Grilled hanger steak seasoned with bacon and shitake mushrooms and served with purple potatoes is tender and flavorful ($12.95). Tampiquena a signature dish of Mexican cuisine, consists of grilled, marinated skirt steak, mashed potatoes and a mole cheese enchilada
Mole (pronounced moh-lay) is a Mexican sauce that dates back to the Aztecs. It combines unsweetened cocoa and ground cinnamon and is used in many dishes such as mole poblano. While the flavor combination may sound strange, mole makes a chicken breast served with wild rice plantains and julienne of crispy tortillas unforgettable.
Finish your meal with a steaming cup of robust coffee and a fine dessert such as crepes filled with Mexican caramel or a light and creamy flan. After dinner drinks are perfect too.
Tierras Mexicanas is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is served starting at 10a.m. Menu offerings include a hearty plate of huevos rancheros, a fluffy omelet topped with salsa, rice and beans or a lighter plain mushroom. Lunch specials are just $6.95 and feature roast beef, chicken breast or seafood with rice. Mexican sandwiches called tortas cost just $4.95 and make a satisfying lunch to stay or to go. Burritos and tacos are found on the lunch menu, too.
There are only about 15 tables in the dining room at Tierras Mexicanas, but the food is fabulous and affordable and the atmosphere and service are very pleasant— Carol, who served us, was attentive and friendly. Take the N or W train to 36th Avenue. Weekend reservations are recommended to avoid long waits for the best Mexican cuisine in Astoria. Viva Tierras Mexicanas!
31-01 36th Ave.