A few weeks back I wrote about somewhere that does tacos, serving them from an unlicensed unit attached to a department store on the edge of the city. It seems to be going well for them; it looks busy and new people appear to be enjoying the food. They are holy people who sent me a lovely message before including my mugshot on a nice little video on Instagram as way of thanks. I’m pleased for them, if a little perturbed by the idea of not getting a table next time.
I mention this because this review also features tacos, albeit at the opposite end of the scale. Whilst that place is a snapshot of north-west Mexico, this place – Tierra Tacos – is more liberal with its authenticity. It skips from Mexican to Creole, taking in whatever ingredients it feels it needs to deliver, in many ways similar to London’s Breddos Tacos. Take the hush puppies, the deep fried cornmeal dumplings beloved of the Deep South. Here they are lifted with white truffle oil and covered under a drift of Parmesan. What feels like an idea conceived under the effects of drugs at Mardi Gras works because it’s not entirely dissimilar to flavouring polenta.
There are tortilla chips with three salsas and tortilla chips with frijoles. Whilst I don’t particularly love any of the salsas – they all feel a bit flat and thin – the frijoles are incredible. Think the Dishoom black dhaal wearing a sombrero, with slowly braised black beans full of smoke and spice. It might just be the best thing on the menu. I say might; we haven’t got to the tacos yet.
I tried the tacos at their original pop-up site in Stirchley, and then again via Deliveroo when they moved to another central location. Both times I thought they were okay. Now, in their permanent spot in the Jewellery Quarter, they are the best yet. Whilst the ox cheek taco feels a little Sunday lunch, short on texture and wet, the chicken tinga has good meat and the hum of cumin laced throughout. Best of all is pork al pastor, effectively a kebab that’s rendered down and dressed the meat with its own fats, on two tacos with little else but a mango salsa. We blitz through two of them and debate ordering more. We’ll be back for more.
The bill for this is just under £60, including the frozen sangria each, the hip hop playlist, and the stellar staff who all seem to be enjoying themselves greatly. It’s all rather nice, and it’s easy to see why it’s so busy. There’s an ease to Tierra, it’s not perfect, but it’s great fun with an offering that will undoubtedly be a success in the city.