Thousands of Blotch readers have inquired about my search for a new restaurant due to the tragic closing of Los Alamos Café, my regular spot for more than 20 years.

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Okay I admit only one of you has inquired.

But I’d feel silly writing a whole blogpost if I thought only one person gave a damn (which I realize is the case, but self-deception is a lovely thing).

This review by Jimmy Fowler caught my eye because (a) I like Mediterranean food, (b) the restaurant is close by, and (c) they have a buffet.

I’m a man with a hearty appetite and I’ll take a buffet over a sit-down menu any time.

So I gave Terra Mediterranean Grill a try today.

As the saying goes, there’s good news and bad news.

Let’s start with the positive: The food was excellent and well seasoned. Everything tasted fresh despite being on a buffet. That’s hard to do. The food options included a diverse mixture of salad, veggies, meat, and bread. The saffron chicken is outta sight and the spinach with bell peppers was wonderful. They offer several versions of fresh bread. The air-conditioning is cool and refreshing, which was nice on a hot and muggy day. The general vibe is classy but casual. The place is clean and new, with big windows and lots of light. Plenty of people were eating and talking and having a nice time. The location is great for me – smack dab in the West 7th development near the cultural district.

Now the bad news: I hate walking into a business and being ignored for more than five minutes. But at Terra Mediterranean you have to pay first and then eat. The line waiting to get in wasn’t that long, but it was well over five minutes before I finally got to the front and anybody paid any attention to me. Even then, the hostess didn’t smile. All she said was, “How many?”

Whatever happened to a decent greeting, like, “Welcome to Terra Mediterranean, thank you for coming, how many please?” If I owned a business I’d make my customers feel welcome and special.

The buffet was pricey (see Problem No. 2 below) and so I ordered water instead of spending another $2 for tea. The glasses are small and yet my waitress felt no obligation to come refill my glass. I spent the bulk of my lunch visit without anything to drink, and you know how that Mediterranean food makes you thirsty. I had to speed back to work just to quench my thirst.

Problem No. 2: The buffet cost $13 after tax. Add in a tip and that’s almost $13.25 (just kidding waitresses, I’m a solid tipper if you treat me nice — unlike today’s waitress).

Add a tea or Coke and it starts to make for an expensive lunch. I’m looking to eat for less than $10.

Still, the buffet is so good that once every three or four weeks I’ll be spending the extra money. That’s just the way I roll.


  1. I had dinner at Terra on a Saturday night. It was cram-packed and noisy, and although the servers didn’t have time to shower anyone with special attention, they were friendly enough.

    I can endure a fair amount of negligence from a server, but an empty water glass is my big pet peeve. I go roaming in search of ice water once. After that, I ask if I can keep a pitcher at my table. Then I let my tip do the talking.

  2. At Terra Med., the customers pay when they enter and then fetch their own plates and food. So the only thing that a waiter can do to be of any service to you is to make sure you have liquids.

    When a waiter can’t even do that, I’ve got no use for them. But if they are attentive and pleasant and keep the refills coming, I tip them 30-40 percent just like I would at any non-buffet restaurant.

  3. @Jeff: “So the only thing that a waiter can do to be of any service to you is make sure you have liquids.”

    Evenings at Terra Med are non-buffet, so the servers take your order and bring your food as well as (ideally) refill your water glass.

  4. Actually the drink is included in that lunch buffet price. Sorry they didn’t pass along the info. We go almost every week and the servers bust ass to take care of us. I love that place.

  5. That’s nice to know the servers are usually on the ball. And it’s good that the drink is included in the lunch price. That makes it more reasonable. However, the fact that the cashier-hostess or waitress didn’t bother to say that a drink was included (and didn’t bother to bring water refills regardless) supports my original complaint that they weren’t very service-oriented or attentive on my visit.

    I’ll give the place another try in a few weeks and see how it goes.