At Mi Tierra every meal is a fiesta

On my first morning in San Antonio I went to Mi Tierra for breakfast.

Mi Tierra is something of an institution in the city, first opened in 1941 by Pedro and Cruz Cortez as a little three-table cafe for early-rising farmers and workers at San Antonio’s Mercado.

Today it is a 500-seat café, bakery and bar that is literally an explosion of Tejano culture, food, art and music.

I’ve got to warn you. The unassuming entry just at the back of San Antonio’s Mercado gives no indication of the delights within.

Sure, the larger-than-life statue of a guy in a sombrero holding a chicken gives a hint.

But nothing can prepare you for the colour, sounds and smells that overwhelm you as soon as you enter the door.

Outside Mi Tierra in San Antonio (Peter Moore)
Celebrating the Day of the Dead at Mi Tierra in San Antonio (Peter Moore)

I literally stopped dead on the spot, taking a moment to take it all in. 

The Olympic-length glass counter full of lovingly-crafted cakes and pastries. The tinsel, pinatas and lights hanging from the ceiling. The framed mariachi suits on the walls.

And because it was coming up to The Day of the Dead, there were gigantic ofrendas (altars) too, smothered in marigolds, paying tribute to family, staff and customers who had passed to the other side.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Mi Tierra is a tourist trap, a kind of Disneyfied version of Tejano culture.

The Tex-Mex food here is authentic and good with plenty of beef and cheese with cumin and chilli powder. The servings are generous too. I had the Barbacoa Mexicana. It could have kept me going all day.

The patrons too were mainly locals. There was a table of policemen behind me and a table of gents wearing suits and bow ties in front of me and local families scattered across tables everywhere else. 

Traditional table setting at Mi Tierra in San Antonio (Peter Moore)
Ordering at Mi Tierra in San Antonio (Peter Moore)

Waitresses in traditional red dresses scurried from table to table taking orders.

They returned them to the diner-style kitchen out back, dodging mariachi singers prowling for custom as they did.

After we finished our breakfast, head waiter, Gerry Sepulveda, took us on a tour of the premises.

The highlight was a huge mural covering an entire wall in the function room, painted by local artist, Robert Ytuarte.

It’s called ‘The American Dream’ and features the great and good of America’s Hispanic community and Mexican history.

Pedro and Cruz, the café’s founders feature, of course, as does Emiliano Zapata, Juan Ortiz and Frida Kahlo. 

'The American Dream' mural at Mi Tierra in San Antonio (Peter Moore)
Gerry and Eva at Mi Tierra in San Antonio (Peter Moore)

Gerry says the mural is being added to all the time.

I’m ashamed to admit that the only new additions I recognised were Carlos Santana, Eva Longoria and Cheech Marin from Cheech and Chong. 

All I can say is that if you ever find yourself in San Antonio, Mi Tierra has got to be your first stop.

Ask Gerry to show you around. Tuck into a Mi Tierra Special Breakfast. And grab a bar of the Popular brand authentic Mexican chocolate beverage mix on the way out. It’s delicious.

How to visit Mi Tierra


Address: 218 Produce Row, San Antonio, Texas, 78207

Main image: Leaving Mi Tierra (Peter Moore)

About Author /

Australian travel writer and podcaster with a funny way of looking at the world.

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