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“Could be great, but falls far far short”
Review of AGAVA Restaurant

AGAVA Restaurant
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Ranked #16 of 269 Restaurants in Ithaca
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $5 - $25
Cuisines: Southwestern, Mexican
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Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Description: The AGAVA restaurant concept is rooted in local, farm-to-table cuisine, seasonal menu and a Southwest-Inspired palette. One of the central design and functional elements is a wood-fired oven with eating bar in the main dining space, serving up flatbreads and a range of other fire-roasted cuisine. Our bar is destination of its own; from the unique spirits & cocktails, to an environment and space you have to see for yourself. We feature one of the most unique interior spaces in the central NY region, drawing from both southwestern design elements like “latillas’ as well as local historical features like reclaimed barn wood. We’re based in the old East Ithaca Train Station, commissioned in 1876 by Ezra Cornell.
Reviewed August 8, 2012

First of all, the positives. Best margarita I have ever imbibed, anywhere (ask for the smoked salt) and the guacamole is to die for. The appetizers are also generally very good. The food is hit or miss. The misses aren't bad, though. There is a learning curve, and one should not be too tough early on. The bar is nice, the deck is quite nice as well. The wait staff are generally flaky but charming. The hostess is your usual ice-princess, but that's common enough. The problem is that they seem to measure success by how loud and how crowded the place is. Out of the the dozen or so times we have set out for Agava, we have been turned away by a ridiculously long wait, or the prospect of seating six people at a table that would barely hold four. That would be OK, hey, we want it to succeed. But the problem is that every time we go there now, there is some band, or an event or something out of the ordinary that fills the place up, even though the place would be full if they just served food and drink (i.e., what a restaurant DOES). In other words, a restaurant that would do a brisk business without any of these gimmicks is trying every gimmick in the book! So, those of us who live in the area and have been praying for a cool new restaurant (or any decent restaurant) in the neighbrhood end up having to go elsewhere. The owner is the person who owns Ithaca Bakery, so that may explain the embracing of noise and pandemonium, as well as the general desire to priviledge out of towners over locals, but it is just too bad. I will not be going back any time soon. They clearly do not need my business.

1  Thank ACME_Amadeus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (365)
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329 - 333 of 365 reviews

Reviewed August 5, 2012

When staying at Hope Lake Lodge we were surprised to read on trip advisor how many great restaurants there are in nearby Ithaca. We dined at Agava and loved it. Very welcoming staff who were kind to the children. The atmosphere is pleasant and the food was wonderful. Would have liked to been able to enjoy the outdoor seating, but it was a bit crowded even on a weeknight in the summer.

Thank andi88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2012

Me and a few friends went on a Thursday evening. We did not make reservations, which was a mistake. The place was bustling around 6:45pm and we had a bit of trouble finding parking. Once in, we signed our names on a list.

Since I was a visitor I didn't know what to expect and had no idea of the cuisine. I asked my friends who live in Ithaca if the restaurant served Asian fusion and was told it was some variation of tex-mex. The decor was very Asian inspired and relaxing. There wasn't a smell of food preparation as in some restaurants. Despite it's tiny size, seating was well-placed.

After 20 minutes without seating, we inquired and learned that the hostess was "looking" for the person who placed our name on the list. When she didn't see him (he was visiting friends at another table), she thought we'd left and gave our table away. They tried to seat us (4 people) at a table made for 2. I opted for our group to wait for a larger table. The waitstaff offered to bring two tables together if we cared to wait and we did. It was a good idea. We were then able to eat family style.

The food was great. They grow their own vegetables and much of the food is organic in nature, and tastes fantastic. The options were limited, but varied enough for everyone at our table. The portions were not too large like you'd get at franchise restaurants, which also made the difference.

I'd recommend trying out this restaurant if you're in Ithaca. I plan to return during my next visit.

Thank Crecia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2012

My boyfriend kind of pressured me into going to AGAVA for my birthday. My party of 5 was pleasantly surprised. We usually hit up mahogany for special occasions, as we have a mixed crowd of pescatarians and meat eaters. Holy crow AGAVA!!! Do it! Besides our server having no personality what-so-ever it was a wonderful experience. We can't wait to go back! And for $102 and change for 5 dinners, some mixed drinks and coffee we found it to be a great value. All locally sourced and low impact. Flipping awesome!

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Thank Hikeandbike20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2012

I took my husband Bill here for his 66th birthday, and we were both exceedingly pleased with everything here. (We were lucky that it was a Tuesday so we didn't have to wait. We've heard that it is so popular--but they don't take reservations for parties under 5 members--that it can be quite a wait.) Anyway, the beer selection was sufficient (we shared a pitcher of an amber ale that was excellent). We also shared a delicious unique appetizer, "bacon and egg," a small but thick slab of pork belly, pickled green garlic, and fried egg. Bill especially likes this kind of thing, and thought it was great. I liked it, too. For dinner, I had a local beef burger with fried onions and goat cheese (I substituted)--very tasty. Bill had the l'il shorty ribs, and said it was the best short ribs he's ever had (and he's had a LOT). My dinner also came with shoestring fries and a container of homemade ketchup. The second I tasted the ketchup, I knew it was something very special (they hadn't mentioned that it is homemade). It had all kinds of delicate flavors all mingling together with the tomato--absolutely wonderful! Finally, because it was Bill's birthday, they gave him a free dessert--so he selected their flourless chocolate torte, which has just a touch of chili spice. It was fantastic (not so much chili that it was "hot" but enough that it was rich tasting and, well, "snappy"). Our server was very friendly, helpful, and patient, and the ambiance is casually elegant. We couldn't have asked for a better experience!

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Thank Sarah D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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