Terra American Bistro

4.5
1370 reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary American
Terra American Bistro began in Hillcrest May 1998 and has since moved to the East College District of Rolando. Chef/Owner and Cookbook Author Jeff Rossman supports local food purveyors and sources all ingredients carefully, with a commitment to buy all products that are cultivated sustainably and humanely. Terra specialties include Steamed Carlsbad Black Mussels, Chipotle Marinated Skirt Steak, Pumpkin Raviolis and Lobster Macaroni ‘n Cheese. This neighborhood Bistro serves up farm to table fare and offers the perfect combination of sophistication and casual elegance. The team’s ambition at Terra is to create a relaxed and casual atmosphere to enjoy great food, local craft beer & wine.
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Contemporary American, Tapas / Small Plates, Comfort Food
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Hours of operation
Champagne Brunch: Sunday 9:00am - 2:00pm
Lunch: Monday - Friday 11:30am-2:00pm
Dinner: Tuesday - Sunday from 4:30pm
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Phone number
(619) 293-7088
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Payment options
AMEX, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Jeff Rossman
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Private party facilities
small parties up to 16 can order off the menu and larger parties need to contact our banquet department for special menu with pricing. Private parties can buy out the restaurant or possibly host an event on Saturday afternoons or Monday evenings.
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Private party contact
Lisa or Jeff: (619) 993-1437
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Catering
Whatever the occasion, our goal is to make your event a complete success. With overflowing creativity and a gracious and dynamic staff, let Terra be your hospitality partner. We promise to exceed your expectations with an uncompromising commitment to perfection. Whether you are planning a simple luncheon or an elaborate six-course dinner, Chef/Owner Jeff Rossman will work with you from the start. He would be delighted to create a custom menu for you and your guests.
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
El Cajon and 71st St
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Parking details
Street parking available and on weekends & evenings parking in business lots around restaurant.
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Public transit
San Diego Trolley stop on 70th street.
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Special events & promotions
Nightly Specials
4:30-6:30

Tuesday - $2 taco night, changes weekly
Wednesday - Wing night + corkage free night
Thursday Date Night - $39.95 dinner for 2(all night)
Friday Fish Fry - beer battered fish + chips $16
Saturday - mussels + a glass of house wine $14
Sunday Family Night - kids 10 + under eat free. one free meal with each paying adult(all night)
Additional
Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Chef's Table, Cocktails, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Delivery, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 1370 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.4
service
4.2
ambience
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
91% of people would recommend it to a friend
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GF
San Diego
1 review
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 2

My friend and I had omelettes for brunch. The food was fine, but it had obviously been sitting out for a while before it was delivered to our table. It was not as hot as it should have been. Terra seems to skimp on wait staff. Most times I've been there, the wait staff seems stressed and overloaded; slow to follow through with taking the order, bringing the check etc. We arrived at 11:30am and it took about 30minutes to get our food. We requested our check several times--it took at least 10 min from our 3rd request to delivery of check. ( We needed to leave promptly to make it to the theatre at 1pm) I live in the neighborhood, and wish Terra was more dependable regarding ambiance ( sometimes very noisy) and quality of service. I appreciate the GF options and the farm to table fresh food offered.

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OT
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

First time here are it was some
Of the best food I have ever ate! The anniversary special is phenomenal and I cannot wait to go back again soon !

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f
San Diego
7 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Occasion: Friends getting together for dinner. We have been to Terra many times, first time for friends. They loved the farm to table concept and decor. Salads were fresh and delicious. We caught the last day of anniversary month so took advantage of the special menu. Friend enjoyed the sea bass bowl, two of us enjoyed the Karl Strauss pot roast, and husband had the spicy sausage rigatoni dish. Home made ice cream and sorbet for dessert. Everything was delicious! And the server was prompt, knowledgeable, but not intrusive. All of us will return.

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KM
San Diego
5 reviews
Dined on August 30, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 3

This is the 4th time we have tried the restaurant. Our friends and reviews are always positive, but we think the food is only okay. The staff is fine, the place is fine, the pricing is fair. The food is just not very good, and the only way we can describe it is it seems they take items from Costco and put them together.

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FL
San Diego
9 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A quiet and unpretentious building from the outside houses a neighborhood treasure. The food is extraordinary. We ordered the potato shrimp tacos as an appetizer, a pot roast and the catch of the day. The roast was melt-in-your-mouth good. It was featured as part of their anniversary menu. (Twenty years...I can see why). The fish was fresh, moist, altogether succulent. We finished with their homemade vanilla ice cream and watermelon sherbet. This was our second of hopefully many more times.

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LL
San Diego
1 review
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We ordered the special dinner. I had the mixed green salad which whas nice, Then the asian bowl which was the bomb!,Surprisingly deliscious. It came with a homemade watermelon pinapple sorbet with blueberries which was heaven. Overall nice service, food and ambiance.

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JG
San Diego
16 reviews
Dined on August 19, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We had a snafu with a couple of the entrees but the waiter fixed those without an issue. Overall the dishes were tasty and unique. I would come back here.

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RK
1 review
Dined on August 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

I almost want to keep this place to myself because when all other farm to table restaurants are overcrowded and hyped and often closing, this place is the last frontier for wonderful food. Nestled in the east college area, I love that I don't have to drive to North Park or Hillcrest to experience this menu. Their bourbon banana bread pudding converted me! I NEVER liked bread pudding before. Also, the Old Fashioneds are decadent and charming. I am in love with this place. The Karl Strauss amber lager pot roast is like butter, their bolognese rigatoni is so seductive. They do magical things with Gorgonzola <3 If you do experience Terra -- my favorite restaurant, please take careful notice of its quiet charm and high quality and help preserve it.

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C
San Diego
7 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 2

We arrived at 6pm - receiving no bread on the table (like other tables) - we had appetizers and ordered our dinner - almost an hour later the waiter came and gave us a "dessert menu" - we looked up and said "well we would like our dinner first" - he obviously was not paying attention or I believe did not put in our order. I asked for the manager and another "server" came and said it was because of the "chicken", I went back to the table and they were told by our served "it was the pork chops". It finally came 10 minutes later and I had ordered flatbread that was under cooked and tasted like gluten free (did not order). Had to wait for both ice tea several times. The "manager" came back over and wanted to know how everything was and proceeded to say that I "yelled at her", which if I had, everyone in the dining room everyone would have known. I asked for the owner and was told "they don't come in", which shows that they don't care about their business. Would NEVER GO BACK. STAY AWAY - FOR $140 IT WAS NOT WORTH IT.

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M
San Diego
11 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As always food was great and Nick provided outstanding service!

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MK
San Diego
1 review
Dined on August 8, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We've been going to Terra for years and it is consistently very good! Excellent Pot Roast and try the chocolate cigar for dessert!

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B
1 review
Dined on August 5, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 3

Always great to find a good restaurant that has great food and is reasonably priced in the La Mesa area! We will certainly go back!

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AS
San Diego
1 review
Dined on August 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent dishes with locally sourced ingredients. Wonderful special for early bird dinners and offer is honored at the bar, a great place to sit if you’re alone. Bartender and servers very attentive and friendly. Also a great place to go before attending nearby Moxie Theater.

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AD
1 review
Dined on July 29, 2018
Overall 2food 4service 2ambience 5

We have been to Terra several times, but this time was different. Took 2 hours to order, eat and leave, and the restaurant was only half full. Kitchen was really slow, and I had my 7, 4 and 1-year-old children with me. can you say nightmare? We'll be back but hopeful for a better experience next time.

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V
San Diego
10 reviews
Dined on July 22, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The meals are always good here. They try to give you what you want (example: no shell fish).
Some waiters/waitresses are better than others. They will either tell you the specials or you
may have to ask.

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SL
San Diego
13 reviews
Dined on July 19, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

The only negative is the noise level. Food is wonderfully creative and healthy.

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t
San Diego
1 review
Dined on July 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We've been dining here for special occasions for the past several years. Each time we go it is excellent. There was a recent menu change with some wonderful new items so that was a plus. It can be hit or miss with how busy they are so just to be safe make a reservation. Staff and management are always friendly and the service is excellent.

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OT
San Diego
9 reviews
Dined on July 14, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

I really enjoyed this time around. Everything was just on point. I love the food and the creativity.

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OT
San Diego
3 reviews
Dined on July 13, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Thursday is BBQ day. Had the brisket with grilled corn and pasta salad. Excellent!

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L
San Diego
18 reviews
Dined on July 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great Birthday celebration at the bar. Christine is the best bartender ever!

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MJ
1 review
Dined on July 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

I started with the chicken pot stickers and they were amazing! I had the chicken lettuce wraps for my entree and they too were amazing.
My husband got the pot roast and he loved it!
Good food!

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SC
San Diego
1 review
Dined on July 1, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Nick is the best!
Always remembers us and makes us feel taken care of.

The entire staff goes above and beyond. Great food for a great value. Our go to for brunch!

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LF
San Diego
11 reviews
Dined on June 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I've been to the restaurant many times, and have always been impressed with my meals. Love the local, seasonal focus of the restaurant.

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j
San Diego
30 reviews
Dined on June 20, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

The menu has become too fussy. The combination of herbs and flavors just doesn't cut it. It was a lot better when they opened. That being said, I had a pulled pork sandwich (one of the only menu items that appealed to me) and it was delicious. The waiter brought out a delicious banana pudding for our friend's birthday which was very nice.

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MM
1 review
Dined on June 17, 2018
Overall 2food 4service 3ambience 3

I had made a reservation days before and still had to wait about 30 minutes for a table which was a bit frustrating. But really enjoyed the food.

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OT
San Diego
1 review
Dined on June 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love this place

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l
San Diego
4 reviews
Dined on June 17, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

I love terra. One of my favorite places in San Diego.
Wish the menu changed a bit more
They have awesome servers but never seem to be enough working
If you have never been it will be a treat

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JT
San Diego
1 review
Dined on June 16, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a wonderful experience. Our server was outstanding. I ordered the basil martini and was presently surprised how refreshing it was. My husband ordered his usual cocktail and was very pleased. Both our meals were delicious. We will definitely be back soon.

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S
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on June 4, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We love Terra! We've been coming here since it relocated to the La Mesa area. Having lived in Europe for many years and become accustomed to proper portion sizes and unrushed meals, we love to find places here that also reflect these kinds of dining experiences. Terra is such a place.

The occasion was my sister's birthday and I had requested a small recognition of this to make her feel special. They came through with a wonderful gooey butter cake for her.

We'll be back again soon!

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OT
San Diego
1 review
Dined on June 3, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

The food tasted very bland. I’ve been here multiple times over the past three years, this time I was very disappointed. Hopefully they can correct whatever is going wrong. I had the specialty burger with peanut butter sauce, my husband had the short ribs. We both were a little disappointed in both of the selections. One thing that was great was the strawberry basil nonalcoholic drink that I had. May be a better place for drinks than food?

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SH
San Diego
1 review
Dined on June 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

This was our third visit and we’ve never been disappointed. Good food, wine list and excellent service from Stacey! We’ll be back!

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OT
1 review
Dined on May 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We ate at Terra before going to Moxie Theater. We tried the special dinner for two which was red snapper with kale and potatoes plus a dessert sampler. Dinner was delicious. Service was very good. A great place to enjoy dinner with lots of choices and food with a great blend of flavors.

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s
San Diego
20 reviews
Dined on May 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

So many unusual starters! The mussels are wonderful!

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T
San Diego
15 reviews
Dined on May 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

LOVE this place. I have eaten here many time for both lunch and dinner and have never been disappointed. I just had the fresh fish.. to die for, my son had the hanger steak and it was tender and juicy.

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OT
San Diego
4 reviews
Dined on May 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 1

Great food and service but very noisy.

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OT
San Diego
1 review
Dined on May 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome Mother’s Day Brunch.

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SN
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on May 13, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

This was our second visit to Terra. Its in our area and has unique food choices so it was a nice choice for a Mother's Day dinner. The service was great - attentive and responsive. The food quality is mixed but mostly really good. Some things are very, very good and some things miss the mark. This was true both times we visited.

Apptetizers:
I had the special of the day appetizer of chicken pate with meyer lemon marmalade and the pate was dry and pretty tasteless. The best part of the dish was the baquette slices. :( The truffle fries were amazing and we all enjoyed them. The ketsup was delicious.

Dinner entrees:
The dinner entrees were all delicious and everyone enjoyed them. I had the seafood fettuccine and it was well prepared. A little too fishy for me but what did I expect! :)

My daughter had the hanger steak both times we visited and she ate it up. She is a picky teen so that's high praise.

My son really enjoyed the pork chop.

My husband always has salmon and the thought the Terra salmon was delicious.

The brocolini that was served as the vegetable on most of our plates was awful. We had to use the steak knife to cut it. Not sure if it was undercooked or what.

Dessert:
The pan brownie was heavenly. If you are a chocolate lover you will absolutely love this dish.

The butter cake not so much. It was tasty but really, really dry.

Overall, it was a good experience and I'll probably try the restaurant again. But, it wasn't one of those amazing dinners out where everything was well done.

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r
San Diego
16 reviews
Dined on May 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

FANTASTIC AS ALWAYS....BEST LITTLE GEM....GREAT STAFF AND WONDERFUL FOOD

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J
San Diego
3 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 3

This little gem is hidden in La Mesa, you would never expect such good food from the exterior. We eat here twice a month and have always enjoyed the food.

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DD
San Diego
6 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We celebrated a graduation here with a large party. They took excellent care of us. Food was very good, drinks as well.

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