Terra American Bistro

4.5
1395 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 1395 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
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
89% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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W
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

So Yummy and delicious! Highly recommend. Colleen was an amazing waitress and the Brisket was so good we are going back next week.

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GF
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Always get great service and wonderful food. I only wish that it was closer to the village of La Mesa. If yo have never been and live in the area you need to check out Terra.

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OT
San Diego
8 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love this place. Cocktails and food were amazing and we do not normally try cocktails.

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OM
San Diego
26 reviews
Dined on December 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We have been to Terra many times and each time the service is outstanding - friendly and attentive. This time around we were there for my birthday. We started with the truffle cheese gnocchi appetizer, which we had never tried before and it was scrumptious and decadent. Everyone loved their entrees. I had the Seafood Saute, which was excellent with just the right amount of spice. My wife had the Pork Roast, which she has had before and likes how tender it is. My son tried the special of the night, which was a surf and turf pasta. When he finished, he wanted to order another round! HIs girlfriend, who is vegetarian, ordered the Tofu Asian Bowl and raved about how it.

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DH
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

This was our third time there. Food and service are great. The ambiance is casual but not cheap. They have expanded their menu so that you have regional southern menu options which I enjoy. Except they aren't southern food proportions, I was happy about that. I had Grandma's Brisket, it was wonderful. Flavorful and tender. My wife had the angel hair pasta with shrimp, the shrimp were really fresh and abundant. You can't go wrong here.

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TE
San Diego
1 review
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went there for Thanksgiving. The food was traditional with a slight hint of craftiness!

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DC
San Diego
1 review
Dined on November 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I love Tera’s. The food is great.

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OT
San Diego
1 review
Dined on November 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Wonderful service wonderful food

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OT
San Diego
1 review
Dined on November 14, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 3

Celebrate my husbands Birthday

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CS
San Diego
1 review
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 3

Usually love everything about Terra, even the noisy atmosphere. This time the food was disappointing, but still great service.

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J
San Diego
76 reviews
Dined on November 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Both entrees were delicious. Service was courteous and speedy.

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OT
San Diego
10 reviews
Dined on November 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We have not been to Terra for a while and were so happy with everything from appetizers to our meals! Nick was our server and he was perfect and so attentive to our table! The Bread Pudding was amazing and we will definitely be back!

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PW
1 review
Dined on November 4, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

We enjoyed it. The pork chop that my husband had was OUTSTANDING my Rigatoni Bolognaise was yummy too. Would liked to have some bread but otherwise delicious

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MA
1 review
Dined on November 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Consistently excellent! Terra is our favorite local restaurant. Tasty, creative, healthy, many choices. Amy is superb.

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M
Palm Springs
1 review
Dined on October 31, 2018
Overall 2food 5service 1ambience 2

We went to the restaurant for my sister's birthday and noted that on my reservation. The food was great but the service was terrible. We had to ask for a birthday treat for my sister after ordering 2 additional desserts. The waiter was not attentive and the place is starting to look old.

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PV
San Diego
1 review
Dined on October 20, 2018
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 2

Terra has declined over the last few years. It was quite good when it opened, but since then has slowly slipped. Our last visit was about a year ago. We decided recently to give it another try, hoping it had improved. Unfortunately our experience was much worse than what we experienced a year ago.

In that year the restaurant's menu has hardly changed. It took over an hour to receive our entrees after we ordered them; several appetizers did appear promptly however. During that hour there was no attempt to expedite the meals for the 2 young (7 and 3 1/2) children in our party. When I asked about the status of our orders, we were told "the kitchen was backed up due to the volume of orders from the bar and take out orders" ... remarkably, the same excuse we heard before on a previous trip to this restaurant.
The food was decidedly mediocre. None of our food was hot. The BBQ pork flatbread was barely warm and not tasty. Ditto the lettuce wraps. Even the Mac & Cheese was sub par. The other dishes were just OK.

Why did we come back? The restaurant is nearby and had a promising start. While we were infrequent guests, we had hoped things had improved between reservations. Sadly, this will be our last visit. The Terra American Bistro has not improved, and likely will not.

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MA
San Diego
4 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food as usual! If I have room, desserts are amazing, the bread pudding to die for!

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b
New York Area
85 reviews
Dined on October 14, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

Really enjoy visiting Terra when I can - they have a very creative menu which good choices. I wish service was a bit more constant though overall is ok.

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GH
San Diego
1 review
Dined on October 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food, great service, friendly atmosphere!! Parking available with easy access!!

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GF
1 review
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Good dining experience being Restaurant Week. One person in our party felt the steak (and lobster selection) was pretty tough. Waiter was pleasant.

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OT
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Ordered from the restaurant week fixed price menu. The first courses of pumpkin ravioli and slat and pepper calamari were excellent. The main courses of halibut and rigatoni Bolognese were just ok. The deserts of floorless chocolate cake and especially the banana bread pudding were outstanding. Great ambiance, and never would have expected such a nice place in this part of town. Over all, very good experience.

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GG
San Diego
1 review
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Well worth the stop, very enjoyable great food and a wonderful atmosphere.

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CH
San Diego
11 reviews
Dined on September 28, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

The food was spectacular. I didn't think I would appreciate the pumpkin ravioli as much as I did! The warm cinnamon was just enough to compliment the light and savory ravioli. The fish was so hearty, fresh, and seasoned just right. The bread pudding was phenomenal along with the flourless chocolate cake. I was very impressed. But it was quite pricey...I guess you do get what you pay for! Deliciousness!

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ML
San Diego
1 review
Dined on September 23, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Wanted a new place to frequent that offers a varied menu. The menu has many choices that can satisfy many different palates. The service was subtle and timely. The quiet setting was much appreciated and made pleasant conversation easy. Will surely return and recommend!

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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
3 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
14 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
San Diego
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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