Northwest Herald

Mystery Diner in Woodstock: Tierra Caliente offers authentic Mexican food, ‘lively’ atmosphere

Tierra Caliente, as the banner claims, offers a variety of authentic Mexican food.

Tierra Caliente Restaurant and Bar, a Mexican-style eatery that borrows both its name and food from a region of Mexico, recently opened in Woodstock.

A small operation, the restaurant at 14801 Washington St. is a cozy one with a full bar and a level of hospitality that rivals its generous portion sizes.

I took a trip out there for lunch last week. The food was good, the service was excellent, and the portions not only got me through my lunch, but gave me more than enough for dinner, as well.

I started out my meal with a helping of chips and salsa, along with some guacamole ($6.50). The salsa had appealing flavor, and was not very hot. The guacamole was an appetizer unto itself, giving me more than enough to snack on while I waited for my entree.

Like much of my other food, I ended up taking most of the guacamole home with me.

Both the chips and salsa had great flavor and are more than enough while waiting for food.

The service was consistent, with the server checking in on me throughout.

Following my appetizers, I received my lunch in about 10 minutes, and it was a lot heftier than I was expecting. I ordered a mar y tierra ($21), which was a skirt steak with a helping of large shrimp.

The meal was paired with sides of beans and rice and a small salad. I made my way through the steak and shrimp, but couldn’t finish my sides in one sitting.

My second dish was a mini helping of chicken tacos ($6.95), which I ordered with flour tortillas. I had to take them to go, as I had no room for them.

The delay in eating them didn’t hurt much, and the tacos made for a great dinner later that night. They were a soft taco that included shredded chicken, onion and cilantro, with a lime to top it off. The red and green salsa also went well with the tacos.

Similar to the steak and shrimp, the tacos came with a side of rice along with beans sprinkled with cheese.

The mar y tierra, a skirt steak and shrimp with sides, makes for a great meal by itself, or for a taco with the tortillas it comes with.

Back in August when the restaurant opened, the owners promised the venue would have a “lively atmosphere.”

While I was able to go a little before the lunch rush, the restaurant gave off a cheery feeling, with a bright setting and decorations meant to make you feel like you’d taken a trip to southern Mexico.

Tierra Caliente serves a variety of foods, including breakfast, seafood, tacos, tostadas, fajitas, enchiladas, tortas, hamburgers and burritos. While my lunch was one of the pricier things on the menu, many of their items are low in cost and offer a good amount of food, such as the chicken tacos.

If you want an authentic Mexican-style food experience, along with great service and a pleasant setting, you can’t go wrong with Tierra Caliente.

The chicken tacos are a value pick, as its a good amount of food and not pricey.

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.

Seeking reader suggestions: We welcome readers to share their recommendations of places they would like the Mystery Diner to visit. Email ideas to tips@nwherald.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Tierra Caliente Restaurant and Bar

WHERE: 14801 Washington St., Woodstock

PHONE: 815-527-7472

INFORMATION: www.tierracalientewoodstock.com

Tierra Caliente, as the banner claims, offers a variety of authentic Mexican food.