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The Aztec Secrets of El Agave

Imagine a restaurant in Old Town that doesn't serve chips and salsa, there's Jack and Guilios, Pacifica Café and Bertha's...but they don't serve enchiladas and tacos, either. Now imagine that you don't care because what you are served is so delicious...and I'm not just talking about your choice from the 900 plus tequilas available!

Outside the Gas Lamp Quarter and a few other choice restaurant clusters around town, you won't find more creative and delicious presentations than The El Agave Tequileria in Old Town. Based on the pre-Hispanic cuisines of the Mayans and Aztecs, this is like no "Mexican food" you've likely ever encountered unless you've dined in Mexico City itself. In fact, the same owners have one other restaurant in that fabled city.

When you walk in you notice hundreds of bottles of tequila - on the walls, on shelves hanging from the ceiling - everywhere. Nothing goes down smoother than a bit of Anejo (the most aged of the tequila types) while conversing with friends or business associates as you begin your leisurely dining experience. And, the margaritas are splendid if not just be association!

You can start with a mouth-watering Sopa de Cilantro made almost entirely of the zesty spice plant Cilantro, the Aztec equivalent to European parsley; or you could split a Caesar salad, made the way it was invented in Tijuana: large, fresh, crispy romaine leaves, shaved parmesan and a light dressing with just a hint of anchovy; or maybe you'll opt for the succulent cactus paddle salad.

Conquering the demon of indecision when it comes to the menu is another thing altogether. You'll enjoy reading the menu as much as you will the dining to follow.

Fish, fowl or beef aka Del Mar, Aves or Carne.

There is the Seabass Mac Cumm Negro cooked and served with hot plantains in a sauce of pasilla chili, bell peppers and spices. Or you might opt for the baked duck in a raspberry sauce, or maybe the Medallones de El Portal, filet mignon medallions dressed in a black pepper sauce accented with chipotle sauce.

And the Mole! (pronounced "mohl-ay") You can choose from among 6 distinct mole sauces: Poblano Don Julio, Rojo, Rosa de Taxco, Coloradito, Verde and Negro. Served over chicken or pork, these sauces are some of the best in San Diego and easily some of the most interesting. For instance, Mole Coloradito is made from guajillo chicostles, sesame seed, banana, garlic and chocolate.

And finally, if you resisted the compulsion to order two main courses, you'll have room for a splendid thick flan that is almost the consistency of cheese cake but without losing its custard soul, drenched in a berry sauce along with a rich, dark cup of coffee.

You'll find this gem in a usual location. As you exit Interstate 5 on Old Town Ave, stopping at the light on San Diego Ave, look up above the Old Town Deli and you'll see the uncovered patio. A covered patio sits off the main dining room to the north west. White table cloths and brass plate decorations accent the dark wood of the dining room...and of course, all that tequila.

For a dining experience that will make you feel like you've stumbled across an ancient Aztec secret treasure, try El Agave Tequileria.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: (619) 220-0692
  • Name: El Agave Tequileria
  • Address: 2304 San Diego Avenue