BY MIKE PUCKETT
El Agave Restaurant and Tequileria has two locations, one in Old Town and the other in Del Mar. I recently visited the first one which has a really cool decor that puts you in the Old Town mood.
They have the biggest tequila bottle collection in the United States with over 2,000 bottles. Pretty impressive! It’s definitely worth the walk around to view them all. I’ve never seen so many tequila bottles in my life, but I sure would have loved to help empty them!
First, we were served crispy chips along with three dips: a green sauce, a red sauce and a wonderful bean dip. Beware of filling up on the bean dip! I was really tempted to make my entire meal out of the chips and this exceptional bean dip.
We began with the house margarita, which I recommend you try. It was made with fresh ingredients and Silver tequila, then garnished with a slice of orange. It had just the perfect fruit flavor but with a nice tequila kick. As we waited for our appetizer, we had a shot of a very nice sipping tequila, the infamous El Agave Reposada.
For an appetizer, we ordered the Chalupas de Langosta. Perfect for two to four people, this dish is a must-try! It consists of two Chalupas made with corn masa, fresh lobster meat chunks (yes, real lobster!), artichokes, diced tomato, cilantro, fresh American cheese crumbles and topped with with a touch of Mexican cream. It’s a great starter dish and a perfect example of what was about to come. The combination of corn tortillas and lobster was nothing short of delectable.
As I have mentioned before, when eating at an establishment with an acclaimed chef, I like to take recommendations on what we should try, so that’s what we did at El Agave. We ordered a seafood dish, Camaron al Tequila, and a beef dish, Filet Chipotle. We decided to split them so we could each get a taste. Both dishes came recommended by our waiter Carlos, who was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and took the time to describe each dish and how it was prepared. It’s obvious that El Agave takes great pride in their cuisine and makes sure the staff is well informed about the menu, the ingredients used and the cooking process.
The Cameron al Tequila is made with Jumbo Tiger Shrimp (Jumbo Shrimp?) Ha! They are large for sure and remind me of the Gulf shrimp I grew up on. Fresh and delicious! The shrimp is sautéed in extra virgin olive oil along with julienne serrano peppers and fresh lime juice, then flambéed with tequila. The sauce is then reduced with a touch of cream. The shrimp and sauce are a great combination and work really well with the side dishes of Antigua black beans and Agave rice. If you’re looking for a wonderful seafood dish, this one is amazing and I highly recommend it.
Now for the turf. I absolutely love my beef and the Filete Chipotle did not disappoint. This entrée consists of grilled filet mignon served on a corn tortilla with chipotle sauce. It’s topped with “Manchego” cheese and comes served with a twice-baked potato and grilled asparagus. Everything was cooked to perfection! The filet was just delightful with the cheese melted on top and the smoky chipotle flavor added just the right touch. This was my favorite dish of the night!
Of course, we can’t forget dessert right? We shared the Flan, an extremely rich dish with a tantalizing creamy caramel flavor. It left me with a huge grin from the very first bite. If you enjoy the wonderful taste of caramel, then this needs to be your go-to dessert!
PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE PUCKETT
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