El Agave Tequileria & Restaurant –Great Food & Great Drinks

| July 1, 2013 | 0 Comments


El Agave is a wonderful venue in which to explore the different types and brands of tequila.

El Agave is a wonderful venue in which to explore the different types and brands of tequila.

The name says it all. The focus of a restaurant’s cuisine is usually stated in its name. A “steakhouse” serves steak; “seafood” means fish. But can you make a meal out of tequila?

El Agave Taquileria & Restaurant is a restaurant, first and foremost, but lists “tequileria” first in its name because it has over 2,000 bottles of the liquor framing its walls. Some of the finest brands in the world are available. And, to make selection of a great tequila simple, the restaurant even private labels products that it has carefully chosen.

A “snob” culture has developed around certain alcoholic beverages, like single malt scotch and premium bourbon that rivals the insanity regarding some wines. Tequila has long been the poor cousin of premium beverages. After all, who wants to drink something that has a worm at the bottom of the bottle?

But attitudes are changing and more attention is now being paid to tequila by patrons who are looking for something new to drink and to talk about. And, tequila is being made finer by being aged in barrels that were previously used by wine makers. The barrels add unique overtones to the liquid. In addition, tequila is being aged for longer periods. Some premium brands are now being aged for five years and even longer.

Tequilas are labeled blanco, reposado, or anejo to indicate how long they are aged. Blanco has not been aged at all. It comes to the bottle right after distillation. Reposado means rested. This tequila can be aged from three months to a year and will develop in complexity as it ages. Anejo has been aged at least one year. For a long time, anejo was as good as it gets.

El Agave is a wonderful venue in which to explore the different types and brands of tequila. It is a pretty and comfortable restaurant where one can relax, allow the liquor to roll over the palate, breathe in the aromas, and gaze at the color. The choice is huge. One can even put together “flights,” samplings of different choices. The education can be interesting and the “snob appeal” will be priceless.

El Agave is in Old Town but out of the mainstream of the throngs of tourists who make the area the most popular attraction in the United States. In fact, it is on the second floor of the building, above a liquor store and next to a chiropractic clinic.
Guests ascend a flight of stairs to enter the main dining room, a large room surrounded by shelves that glitter with the reflections of varying shaped bottles. The room is dark and comfortable. An enclosed patio leads off the dining room, filled with regular and high rise tables that look out onto Old Town’s main street.

The cuisine is not the conventional combination of tacos and tortillas. Dishes are made according to sophisticated recipes that combine traditional flavors of many Mexican regions. Presentation is excellent and service is attentive.

El Agave offers an opportunity to try different moles (pronounced moh-lay), including mole rojo, made from chile pasilla, ancho, guajillo, pepper and clover, and mole verde, made from tomatillo, chile de agua, chile serrano, epazote, hierba santa, chochoyotes (corn masa) , both moles served over chicken or pork with white rice. These are sauces that add taste and sometimes “fire” to a dish.

To enjoy a lot of Mexican flavor, start with sopa tortilla, a chili soup that is layered with tortilla chips, chicken, avocado, cheese and sour cream. Follow that up with enchiladas de mariscos, a seafood enchilada with shrimp, lobster and squid, topped with tomatillo and chile poblano sauce. The tastes bring heat, sweetness and lobster flavor to the palate. Or enjoy both tequila and meat, combined in filete al tequila. This is a filet mignon prepared with the liquor in a red wine reduction sauce, topped with mushrooms and onions. This is truly Mexican dining at a high level of flavor and sophistication.

Prices are moderate, perhaps a bit higher than usual Mexican dining prices but the dishes are unique and very good. Besides, think of the tequila choices to go with the meal.

El Agave Tequileria & Restaurant is located at 2304 San Diego Avenue, near to Highway 5’s exit to Old Town. Call (619) 220-0692 for information and reservations.

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