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“Authentic Mexican-Cozy Atmosphere” 4 of 5 stars
Review of El Agave

El Agave
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Ranked #163 of 4,561 Restaurants in San Diego
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $20 - $50
Cuisines: Mexican, Latin
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Families with children, Special occasions, Large groups
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Full Bar, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Dining style: Casual Dining
Neighborhood: Old Town
Cross street: Old Town Ave
Hinsdale, IL
Level Contributor
133 reviews
69 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“Authentic Mexican-Cozy Atmosphere”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2013

We were in town from Chicago and wanted to find authentic Mexican food-we did. The 2nd floor location just outside of town up a hill threw us initially, but after walking up the stairs into the cozy space lined with endless tequila bottles we were thrilled. We were seated in a porch like area with open windows that allowed us to see the fireworks from Sea World. So fun! The endless assortment of tequilas were a great start to the evening and our waiter was so great at guiding us through the selections. I had the house special mole over pork which was outstanding. The portion was large and delicious. My partner had a steak in a smoky chipotle sauce that was so tender and flavorful. This is not cheap tacos and over sized margaritas. This is the real deal. This was the start to a week long trip up the coast and this was our favorite evening. Great choice!

  • Visited August 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Food
Helpful?
2 Thank jaluca04
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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253 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    134
    65
    20
    16
    18
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
145 reviews
138 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“Food, service and price are all good here.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2013

We checked out EA for lunch based on some online recommendations. I had a great duck taco for $7 and thought it wouldn't be enough but it came with a sizeable and great tasting green salad as well as a tasty diced orange/tomato salad/salsa side dish. My wife had a veggie taco and a side of black beans that was not a spoonful of black beans but rather a "cake" of semi ground black beans that had been baked - so good - that was all equally impressive. Two entrees, two bevies, two great margaritas for under $40 for lunch and it was all very good. You can't go wrong here.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Food
Helpful?
2 Thank BRUCE W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chula Vista, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Mexican food”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2013

Like many reviews, if you are looking for "American" Mexican food (which I also enjoy when the time calls) this is not the place. All you need to know is that El Agave carries Huitlacoche on their menu (served in a delicious Chile Poblano soup). But if you are looking for a nice sit down, night out restaurant that serves authentic/traditional and more upscale Mexican dishes this is defininitely the place. That being said, I don't get the hoopla about the prices in several reviews. $6-7 appetizers, $10-14 soups, $20-40 main course, falls within the range of a very nice restaurant in one of the most tuoristy sections of San Diego (though at the very edge of it-not the heart). The service was tops, never left to feel forgotten, the waitress knew the menu, answered questions fully (not merely pushing higher end items), all employees were very nice and upbeat, our food was timely, and the ambiance was romantic (perhaps it was the company-but the physical appearance of the place helped...just a nicely appointe Mexican feel). I'm not much of a driker so I can't say much about the alcohol, I think the traditional margarita is delicious, but the jamaica margarita was too sweet. They do crray a wine list for those of us that prefer not to have coctails during dinner. As far as the food...I'm a San Diegan (sice childhood 5yrs) and can honestly say there is no competitor to El Agave in San Diego, both in menu items and taste. Having traveled quit a bit in Mexico, the chef know what he is doing. The authentic spices of traditional plates are there (from soap Azteca to the moles, to the duck). I have been to El Agave multiple times, tried a variety of plates, an the place has not disappointed. I'm a mole junkie an the poblano w/pork is one of my favorites, though I struggle to having to choose between that and the green or pipian...plain delicious! I just can't say enough about the place. The only negative is not really the restaurants fault, it is a nice enough place to dress-up yet people coming in in t-shirt, shorts and sandals...for dinner! Perhaps the location (Old Town= tourist)? Perhaps the general perception of a Mexican food restaurant ie:taco shop? Not trying to be a snob but you can pick this place up and place in a more upscale locale and they could very well require dinner attire. OK, that's my 2 cents. Last tip don't ever, ever, ever take tips about a Mexican restaurant from people reviewing the chips or the nachos, that's like reviewing the table bread and the fries...really? El Agave is tops in San Diego for a more authentic gourmet Mexican RESTAURANT, you will not find Carne Asada fries, combo #6, the foam plates or the 3.99 special, all good things found at the taco shop, but not a refined dinner. Try it out, dress-up, take your significant other, and enjoy a nice dinner. It really will not disappoint.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Food
Helpful?
4 Thank Yellowcat1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surprise, Arizona
Level Contributor
9 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Not your typical Mexican restaurant”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2013

This is a restaurant and tequila bar. Not a taco joint! We had an excellent dining experience in old town San Diego. We had a 6 year old that enjoyed the offer of a quesadilla any way she wanted, and the adults reveled in a sampling of sea bass Veracruz which was amazing, and a filet so tender it melted in your mouth, topped off with yummy chocolate flan. A bit on the pricey side, but well worth the prices. We would definitely plan on returning soon!

  • Visited July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Food
Helpful?
3 Thank srbohneman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
199 reviews
116 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Wonderful Mexican”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013

We eat a lot of Mexican here in San Diego and had never gone here. When in Old Town we usually go to Old Town Mexican or La Pinata. This was totally different. Very upscale and excellent. I had flautas. Green tortillas and tender beef. My daughter had carnitas street tacos that were so amazing. More a grown up place to eat. Our 11 year old loved the flautas but our 8 year old did not do so well. We had lunch and heard dinner was pricier.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Food
Helpful?
3 Thank Benthien
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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