Terra Restaurant Bar
Akin to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Seth McClung partnering to open a “12-Seventy Three” restaurant in Brookfield (or opening an-all-you-can-eat buffet anywhere near this guy), one of Milwaukee’s newest restaurants, Terra Restaurant Bar, is starting at a huge disadvantage. Terra has made the decision to serve Mexican food and to be located near the heart of Walker’s Point, near a cluster of popular, more-established options such as La Perla, Botanas, La Fuente, and various other Mexican eateries. While this could be chalked up to poor planning, Terra’s establishment could instead suggest confidence, if not aspirations, for a different take on Mexican food. Expecting the former and hoping for the latter, The A.V. Club decided to be among the first patrons to drop by the weeks-old Mexican restaurant to see if it could possibly hold a lasting place in the already well-represented Walker’s Point Mexican dining scene.
The space: Don’t let Terra’s dingy, industrial, definitively National Avenue surroundings sway your judgment. Inside lies a new and near-spotless dining area that’s outfitted with 15 tables, along with a brand-new, well-stocked bar area. The room seemed all the more spacious due to it being empty—save for us, the bartender, and a man briefly situated at the bar.
The service: Because we arrived smack dab between the lunch and dinner hours, our server (the restaurant’s acting bartender) seemed a tad surprised to see us. But once we clarified our intentions, he was courteous and knowledgeable of the restaurant’s new menu—even taking the time to explain (and in doing so, talk us out of ordering) an Avocado Margarita.
The A.V. Club’s food: Having balked at the idea of drinking pre-guacamole, we instead opted for the Rainbow Margarita ($7.25). The menu indicated Terra to be the home of said margarita, and with good reason. The blended beverage was sweet yet deceivingly boozy, thanks to a generous dousing of tequila, blue curacao, lime, and strawberry, resulting in—you guessed it—an array of different colors. Beyond the Avocado and Rainbow Margaritas, numerous margaritas and other specialty drinks like mojitos, beer (both domestic and Mexican mainstays), and wine are available.
While sipping the sugary cocktail, we browsed Terra’s mishmash menu, complete with everything from popular American fare like omelets and burgers to a vast variety of Mexican food favorites. Most dinner entrees range from $10 to $15, making the daily special of two chimichangas with a side of rice and refried beans ($6.95) all the more alluring. We selected one beef and one chicken chimi, each of which was grilled to golden, greasy perfection. The chicken version was cheesy and tremendous, whereas the ground beef lacked flavor in comparison. Altogether, the portions were good, especially at the special price.
The verdict: While Terra doesn’t have the oversized chili pepper of La Perla, the unsanitary charm of Conijito’s, the outdoor seating of Botanas, or even a website to call its own, it quietly impressed via its food, its interior, and its solid service. It’s worth a try in the event you decide to abandon your loyalty to one of Terra’s innumerable Mexican predecessors.