About 20 minutes outside of Oaxaca City is San Francisco Tutla, a small town in some pretty gorgeous countryside. It also happens to be where (the singer) Lila Downs grew up. So what do you do when you don't live there anymore, but you still own your childhood home? You turn it into a restaurant, and a good one at that. Open about a year, Tierra del Sol is worth the cab ride out from Oaxaca
Address is on the sign, it's just a stone's throw off the highway and not hard to find.
Rather than an amuse bouche, at Tierra del Sol a welcome cocktail is brought to you almost as soon as you are seated. It's agua de jamaica, mezcal and some simple syrup, served in a jícara that's been rimmed with sal de gusano. And it is delicious!
Tableside guacamole is rather commonplace these days in the U.S. Here the executive chef is making salsa de molcajete tableside. Her first words were chapulines or gusano. We opted for the chapulines. Her chef's jacket is spectacular and is showing the design from Valle Nacional in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca.
In addition to the chapulines and gusanos, here are the other things that went into the table salsa, which was rustic and just spicy enough. It was also replenished tableside when we polished off the first batch
These were small, very crisp tostiditos in the style of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. I think they had duck on them but I can't really remember
Fresh corn tortillas, fresh cheese, refritos. About as simple as it can get and simply very, very good.
Rice, chicken and finely diced vegetables with a rich chicken broth added at the table. Healthy, light and addicting
On the menu as "fried ribs" these were actually carnitas de costillas. The flavor was good, the smaller ones were somewhat overcooked. The black beans had been cooked with hierba de conejo and were the fantastic. Best beans for the trip hands down.
Tierra del Sol has only been open about a year, and, yes, Lila Downs still owns the house and it's her restaurant. Service was excellent with each table having a waiter assigned to it. The tables themselves are interesting in that they are really more like shadow boxes. About 12 - 18 inches deep they contain a lot of Lila Downs memorabilia and have glass tops so that the contents are easily displayed. A lot of the wall space in the interior dining rooms has been given over to local artists and most of what's in the tables and on the walls is for sale.
After the meal if you are so inclined, one of the waiters will give you a tour of the house and grounds.
Tierra del Sol does not have a web page, but they do have a Facebook page
They are open for Breakfast, Comida and Cena. Moderately priced, the food is excellent as is the service.