For Jesus Guitron, family is an important part of life. The presence and concept of family and history is in his work, profession and relationships.

As co-owner, co-manager and head chef at Mi Tierra Family Mexican Restaurant, including family in the restaurant’s name represents many things to Guitron.

As a youth in Jalisco, Mexico, Guitron worked in a variety of positions at hotels, taco stands and restaurants. In 2001, after he had collected enough money, he came to the United States and worked as a chef in his uncle’s restaurant in the Pacific Northwest. Family and friends persuaded him to come to Nebraska. His first employment in Lincoln was as a chef in the Morales family restaurants in the Capital City.

His years at the Morales restaurants included stints at Mazatlan, Las Margaritas and Mazatlan II, progressing from chef to restaurant manager.

“But one dreams to go out on your own and run a restaurant,” he said. “Now I have my own place.”

When Guitron decided to open his own restaurant, he teamed with his cousin Jesse Guitron as co-owners/co-managers. Many of Mi Tierra’s recipes come from Jesus’ family. The staff at Mi Tierra includes family members, and many of the restaurant’s regular customers are so familiar, he regards them as family and friends.

Mi Tierra translates to “My Land,” and that is what Guitron’s restaurant is – a tribute to his heritage and his family.

It took Guitron six months to remodel the restaurant’s space to his satisfaction, resulting in hues of burnt sienna accented with Hispanic-themed artwork and heavy rustic Mexican-style furniture and booths. Mi Tierra opened in February 2018.

He said his lunch business mostly comprises seniors and business professionals, while the more popular dinner hours find families with children as well as seniors enjoying the atmosphere and cuisine. Guitron looks forward to an increase in the restaurant’s college-age students and young adult patrons as word circulates about Mi Tierra.

With a menu that offers an extensive number of dining choices – dishes that number among the largest, if not the largest, Mexican options – Guitron explains that Mi Tierra offers a little bit of everything Mexican in dining choices.

That includes dishes from a variety of Mexican regions as well as personal recipes from his grandmothers, mother and other family ancestors. Also included on the menu are some familiar American Tex-Mex dishes.

He said he changes the menu slightly once a year, removing those items that have not been popular and adding something new. Diners might see a few more combo plate options as he said that they are very popular.

Guitron cites several reasons for diners to consider Mi Tierra, including the restaurant’s great service with the wait staff working at establishing relationships with customers.

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“They are close to our customers, wanting to make them comfortable and satisfied … the regulars are like friends or family,” he said. “Some [customers] come two or three times a week and spend hours here just laughing and eating and having a good time.”

Other pluses for the restaurant, according to Guitron, are its good food, decor, ambiance and affordable prices when compared to other Mexican restaurants.

There are 14 options under the Appetizer section of the menu including the Mi Tierra Platter (combo of flautas, beef nachos and quesadillas, $9.25), Carne Asada Quesadilla ($10.95) and Asada Fries (French fries, carne asada and cheese sauce topped with pico, sour cream and guacamole, $10.95). Taco Salad Cazuela ($7.50), Fajita Taco Salad ($9.50), Black Bean Soup ($5.50) and Tortilla Soup ($10.50) are among seven soup and salad choices.

Sixteen burrito choices range from $7.50 to $12.50 and include a Chorizo Burrito (eggs and Mexican sausage, $10.50), Manadero Burrito (lightly spiced ground beef, refried beans and rice inside a flour tortilla, $11.50) and Burrito Panson (sirloin strips, bell peppers, onions, rice and beans, $12.50). A couple of vegetarian burrito options are also offered.

A Spinach enchilada (corn tortilla filled with spinach, mushrooms, onions, tomato and cilantro, topped with jack cheese and sour cream, $10.95), Enchiladas Mi Tierra (three corn tortillas stuffed with choice of cheese, chicken or beef and topped with white cream sauce, $10.95) and Enchiladas Suiza (two corn tortillas stuffed with grilled chicken, topped with verde sauce, cheese and sour cream, $11.95) are among the seven enchilada options.

There are five tostada choices (chicken, beef, pork, bean and picadillo), all for $8.50, and 10 fajita options (chicken, steak, combo, pork, shrimp, Fajitas Mi Tierra, grilled trio, veggie, Fajitas Cancun and Molcajete Verde) ranging from $11.95 to $17.95.

If you have a hefty appetite, look to one of the seven Big Boy Platters priced from $14.95 to $29.95, including Tres Compadres (chile relleno, chile verde and chile colorado, $14.95), Mi Tierra Trio (chicken crab meat and shrimp covered in cream sauce, $18.95) and Los Primos Special (carne asada, pollo asado and shrimp, $29.95).

The popular combination plates that Guitron talked about come in small combos (seven choices at $9.25) and large combos (13 options ranging $10.95 to $12.95).

Under House Specials are eight beef choices, 10 chicken, 16 seafood and two pork. Some of these choices are Carnitas de Res (tenderloin fried with green peppers, onions and spices, $13.95), Mi Tierra Mexican Dinner (char-broiled ribeye, cheese enchiladas, tamale and crispy beef taco, $20.95), Pollo Chipotle (chunks of chicken in chipotle sauce, vegetables, onions, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream, $13.25), Guadalajara’s Plate (chicken, shrimp and fish sauteed with onion, mushrooms, white wine and spices, $12.95), Crab enchiladas (two corn tortillas filled with crab meat topped with enchilada sauce, jack cheese, sour cream and avocado, $13.95), Pescado Frito (whole fried tilapia fish on top of lettuce, garnished with tomato, onions and avocado, $13.50) and Mexican Pork Carnitas (roasted pork cooked in Mexican-flavored spices, served with guacamole and pico de gallo, $13.50).

Guitron said that customer favorites include the combo plate of Relleno and Tamale, the Enchiladas Mi Tierra and the Mi Tierra Mexican Dinner.

Eighteen lunch specials (Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) are available from $7.95 to $9.25. The menu also includes hamburger, cheeseburger and ribeye under an American Favorites category. In addition to beer, wine and cocktails, the Mi Tierra bar offers a dozen different margarita blends.

At Mi Tierra, Guitron wants to give his patrons a real taste of Mexico that is authentic, traditional and has that feeling of family.

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