El Agave Blends Traditional With Modern at New Del Mar Plaza Location

May 1, 2014

Owner Juan Carloz Gomez finally unveiled his third restaurant in San Diego with El Agave Del Mar's opening in the beginning of April at the Del Mar Plaza. Like his other two spots (El Agave in Old Town & Iberico Spanish Bistro in La Jolla), El Agave Del Mar boasts a second story view and offers traditional classics with historic recipes. Being that El Agave's version still sits atop my list of favorite moles, and since we're big fans of tequila and sunsets, we chose to avoid our customary 'waiting period' for a new restaurant and stopped in for a first bite when the eatery was only 2 weeks in.

El Agave has been serving "Mexican nouvelle" cuisine to San Diegans from its Old Town hub since '96. The Del Mar location offers a very different feel than its predecessor, as it comes with beautiful views overlooking downtown Del Mar and the Pacific, along with an ultra-modernized design. As you enter, a quaint dining area offers a quieter setting and features hard wood floors, a stone wall and tequila filled cabinets. Oversized wicker lantern globes warm the ceiling of the window-lined main dining room and bar area, and three huge mosaic watermelon sculptures brighten up the room. Glance behind the bar and you'll see some 2,000 tequilas - one of the largest collections in the country.
Being a tequileria, we relaxed ourselves with a pair of Cointreau Perfect Margaritas ($13), a mix of award-winning El Agave artisanal silver tequila, fresh lemon juice (?!) and Tripel Sec liqueur served on the rocks with a salted rim. Sipping it down as the sun set into the horizon brought great bliss.
From the appetizers, the best has to be the Entremeses Surtidos ($21.95), a sampling that includes two shrimp and crab empanadas; three assorted sopecitos of cochinita (pork), cuitlacoche (corn 'mushroom') and shrimp in chipotle; three beef taquitos; four mini quesadillas (two with mushrooms, two with poblano pepper strips); four rolled taquitos stuffed with potato and homemade chorizo; and a mini stack of guacamole. The sopecitos are certainly the bell of the ball with the shrimp being the most delicious of the three.

After scarfing down our sampler platter, we needed help digesting before our next course, so we ordered a shot of El Agave's anejo, which comes beautifully presented in a mini-yard glass served in an unfinished wood holder and a side of house-made sangrita. It was the perfect intermission between courses.
I had to give the Mole Poblano Don Julio ($22.75) the nod for my main, as the last time I had it, I loved every bite. Made from scratch with pasilla, ancho, and mulato chilis as well as other ingredients such as tomatillo, clove, black pepper, chocolate, garlic, cinnamon, coriander seed, sesame seed, and other secrets, this hearty sauce is served over chicken with Agave style rice and a piece of plantain. Sometimes memories are better than reality, and unfortunately that was the case here. Although the mole sauce was delicious and continues to impress, the meat was a bit dry. The rice mixed with the sauce was the best part of this dish this time around.
The Filete Agave ($34.25) came to the table oozing with goat cheese, was served with a dark tequila sauce and accompanied by potatoes gratin, grilled asparagus and thinly sliced zucchini.  The protein of this dish was also a bit overdone, a problem that will surely be remedied as the restaurant tackles its opening jitters.
Of the three desserts on the menu, we received the caramel goat milk flan, topped with whipped cream and strawberry, and served with rasberry, chocolate and caramel sauces. I've never thoroughly enjoyed flan in the past, but this one was fantastic, as each gastrique was better than the last, and the flavors of goat milk added a unique and earthy taste to the flan making it sublime.
With its unmatched views and delicious tequila, El Agave Del Mar is a beautiful space that will certainly thrive in Del Mar Plaza. They serve lunch and dinner daily and happy hour. Stop by for a meal and let us know what you think!

1555 Camino Del Mar., 2nd Floor Del Mar Plaza
(858) 793-0758

Daily 11am-10pm

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