El Agave

El Agave: Authenticity in the Heart of Old Town

El Agave restaurant and tequileria is a gem in the sea of Mexican restaurants in San Diego. Here you won’t find tacos or burritos, or even chips and salsa; instead dishes composed of tantalizing ingredients and complex sauces are prepared according to ancient techniques that truly showcase the sub-continent’s culture and history. Originally from Mexico City, owner Juan Carlos Gomez and chefs Mario Montes and Julio Obando celebrate the cuisine, ingredients, and techniques of central Mexico, where a rich culinary history dates back to Aztec times.

Located on the outskirts of San Diego’s Old Town, just a little over a block away from the onslaught of “Mexican” restaurants and cafes, El Agave has paid homage to the intense flavors and richly satisfying dishes of Mexico for over a decade.  The dining experience is uniquely upscale, with a broad selection of entrees that mix haute standards such as filet mignon and sea bass with deeply flavorful Mexican staples such as epazote, chipotle, and ancho chiles.  If the menu alone isn’t a draw (and it should be), the restaurant doubles as a tequila museum, with more than 1700 tequila bottles lining the walls, 500 of which are available to accompany the central-Mexico-inspired cuisine.

The nondescript, stucco exterior belies a rich interior, which boasts an intimate space filled with subtle details that quite convincingly evoke another country. The second floor space, while small, offers several seating options, including an outdoor, semi-private patio, an intimate main dining room, an enclosed terrace, and a tight bar area that seats no more than four, maybe six if you’re friendly. The dining room is equally cozy, with closely-spaced tables creating an ambiance that seems both comfortable and warm.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the restaurant was, well, tequila.  Gomez is an avid tequila collector, and his 1700-bottle collection spans across every available inch of the restaurant’s walls—in glass cases, shelves strung beneath ceiling beams, and the tops of antique wood cabinets.  The bottles are gorgeous, some over 100 years old, others made of ceramic or clay, molded into commemorative shapes like the mascot of the 1970 World Cup, which was held in Mexico City.

Taking our eyes away from the walls, we were led through the dining room to the large terrace, which was sheltered by glass windows and a canopied roof that could open on warmer days. The tequila collection overflowed here, with more glass cases and antique banquettes.  We were seated at a table in the corner, and were greeted by our server, Alberto, who brought menus, the wine list, and an astoundingly enormous list of tequilas.

While the restaurant has a modest yet well-selected wine list, the focus is clearly on the tequila. The alphabetized list of over 500 selections (ranging from $5.75 to $175 per 2 oz. pour) was admittedly daunting. Additional selections, such as El Agave’s own brand of tequila, are also available, although not on the menu, as are bottled Mexican beers and a range of cocktails, including several margaritas. With only two wines offered by the glass—a white and a red—we decided tequila was the way to go, and ordered two Cadillac Margaritas. The drinks would prove to be our first glimpse into the restaurant’s commitment to purity—the drinks were crafted from scratch with lime juice, orange juice, Grand Marnier, and 100% agave tequila.

As we marveled at the excellence of our pre-dinner drinks, Alberto brought out our first course: Tlacoyos Cuitlacoche. Two oval-shaped forms graced our plate, each a tower of deep, dark hues. The tlacoyos, thick, blue-colored cakes made of masa (dough from ground corn and water), were topped with layers of feisty chipotle salsa, dark cuitlacoche, cilantro, onions, and queso fresco.  Cuitlacoche, a fungus analogous to mushrooms that grows on ears of corn, is considered a delicacy in Mexico, and I was excited to have my first taste.  The dish was elusive, filled with rich, complex flavors of smoke, wood, and earth that all seemed new to my palate. The tlacoyo tasted purely of corn, a refreshing departure from ubiquitous starchy tortillas. The salsa was not just smoky, it tasted of smoke, as if the chipotle peppers had just been pulled from the fire. And the cuitlacoche, a thick mixture of black puree and silver bulbs, was deliciously elusive, both smoky-sweet and earthy. In fact, the dish as a whole felt rooted to the earth rather than concocted in a kitchen.

We relished every bite of our Tlacoyos, reveling in the pure flavors, but also the history. Masa dough has been found to have been made as far back as 6500 BC; cuitlacoche was considered a delicacy back in Aztec times. It was as if this dish was reminding us that food has been essential to humanity far before our modern times, fast food, and all-too-often rushed meals.

As if right on cue, our next course offered a modern interpretation of an ancient ingredient, proving that the rich flavors of heirloom ingredients (in this case the nopal cactus) were still very much relevant today. The Nopalli Salad featured diced (and de-thorned) nopal cactus, mixed with cilantro, onion, and hot green peppers. The dish arrived as a cylindrical form: a base of fresh avocado supported the cactus medley, while a layer of queso fresco sandwiched it from above.  Alberto brought a basket of warm, fresh corn tortillas, and suggested we scoop the salad into the tortillas and eat the dish with our hands, like a taco.  Again, the flavors were new and surprising, the cactus both wholesome and tart, like citrus; the queso fresco light and refreshing, like a more flavorful mozzarella.

Together, our first two courses could have formed a filling, satisfying, and nutritious meal; as it was, we were eager to sample the seafood and meat dishes offered at El Agave. Our first of three outstanding entrée suggestions from Alberto was the Camarónes Guajillo: a medley of enormous prawns and vibrant red ribbons of guajillo chiles, served atop a bed of black beans, rice, and a slice of nopal cactus. The entire dish was surrounded by a bright orange broth, made from fresh orange juice and spicy peppers. The guajillo peppers, the most visually unique element of the dish, offered the slightest hint of heat without being overly spicy. The shrimp, marinated in chile oil, offered subtle flavor, but it was when these two combined with the orange sauce that the dish triumphed. The tastes were clean, pure, and refreshing, while at the same time offering a lingering, but not overpowering, spice.

We next sampled two different mole dishes: Mole Verde and Mole Poblano Don Julio. Both versions of this rich, complex sauce were served over slow-cooked pork and accompanied by rice and a hollowed-out zucchini squash stuffed with corn and carrot. The Verde, a famous mole from Oaxaca, was light green, the result of a careful concoction of roasted tomatillo, two chiles (chile de agua and serrano), herbs such as epazote, and corn masa.  Light yet flavorful, the sauce offered layers of citrus, smoke, and a concoction of mild spices that somehow seemed fresh and new with each bite. The savory pork, slow-cooked to graceful pull-apart tenderness, perfectly embraced the complex sauce, and we relished each forkful.

The Mole Poblano Don Julio, however, was the momentous dish of the evening. Described on the menu as “the soul of mole,” the dish did nothing but live up to, if not exceed, its description. Deep brown in color, the sauce was an intoxicating combination of a myriad of ingredients, including three types of chiles (pasilla, ancho, mulato), cloves, black pepper, chocolate, garlic, cinnamon, coriander, and sesame seed. Soulful indeed, the sauce offered astounding complexity: the first bite suggestive of chocolate, then transitioning into an elusive burst of spice just at the moment I expected sweetness. It was at once intoxicating and captivating, a shock to my senses and an awakening call to flavor. I insist you try it for yourself.

While I didn’t think anything could rival the Mole Poblano in intense, pure flavor, our dessert, the house-made Flan came delightfully close. Featuring Mexican caramel made with cornmeal, the tiny cylindrical form was nothing short of amazing. Each bite tasted so purely of caramel that we ate at a snail’s pace, letting each spoonful fully dissolve over our tongues. The dessert, like the meal, showcased carefully selected, quality ingredients in a way that celebrated pure, intense flavor.

As the flan disappeared, we realized our meal would not be complete without sampling the restaurant’s namesake. Rather than navigate the 500-selection menu, we opted for El Agave’s own Añejo (tequila aged over a year). A tall, slender 2-oz. glass supported by a wooden frame arrived, with glistening gold liquid that looked positively radiant. Smoky, essential, and pure, the liquid glided effortlessly and elegantly down our throats.  As is traditional, a tiny, salt-rimmed glass of sangrita accompanied the shot, a mix of tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, and lime juice, which provided a sweet, almost candy-like finish.

As seemed to be the theme of the evening, I was surprised by the quality, the inherent flavor, and the overwhelming purity, which awakened not only my taste buds, but my head, as I realized I had been deceived all these years by Americanized versions of the rich, vibrant traditions of Mexico. As we got up to leave, dizzying memories of smoky cuitlacoche, deep poblano mole, and rich caramel flan resonated across my tongue. I was hooked on the country’s rich culinary traditions, vibrant ingredients, and respectful preparations. Never again could anything less flavorful and satisfying pass for true Mexican cuisine.

Hide Review

Copyright © Restaurant Agent Inc.


Reservations

  I have a Gift Certificate issued by SanDiegoRestaurants.com
Enter your 10 digit gift certificate number in 1111111111 format with no spaces and no special characters. Separate multiple gift certificates by using comma such 1111111111,2222222222. For a list of participating restaurants, please visit our Gift Certificate page.

Photos


Restaurant Info

  • 2304 San Diego Avenue
    San Diego CA 92110
  • Address: 2304 San Diego Avenue, San Diego CA 92110
  • Cross Street: Old Town Ave.
  • Location: Old Town | Old Town
  • Cuisine: Mexican |
  • Cost: $$ | Inexpensive | $25 - $50
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Unknown
  • Dress Code: Casual
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Public Lot |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | Mastercard |
  • Corkage Fee: 15.00 | Per Each Bottle
  • Staff: Alberto Mondragon | General Manager
    Juan Carlos Gomez | Executive Chef
  • Phone: (619) 220-0692

Business Hours

Monday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Tuesday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Wednesday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Thursday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Friday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Features

  • Full Bar
  • Late Dining
  • Catering Services
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Prix Fixe Menu
  • Smoking Area
  • Takeout Available
  • Wheelchair Access
  • Personal Wines Allowed
  • Lounge / Bar

Occasion

  • Child Friendly
  • Romantic Dining
  • Dining Alone
  • Meet for a Drink
  • People Watching
  • Quiet Conversation
  • Special Occasion

 


F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions


Menus

Dinner

Entremeses

Sopas

Ensaladas

Del Mar

Moles

Aves

Carnes


User Reviews

Mucho Tequila :-)  

This place has more Tequila than you could handle! And the food was good too.

exellent  

El Agave the best Mexican food in California, BRAVO

Not your everyday mexican!!  

This is the most exquisite mexican food I've ever tasted, not to mention the tequila. Absolutely incredible!!!

Not your everyday mexican!!  

This is the most exquisite mexican food I've ever tasted, not to mention the tequila. Absolutely incredible!!!

El Agave  

Highest recommendation for this unique mexican restaurant. Outstanding, friendly service, and equally outstanding delicious food.

EXCELLENT!  

EXCELLENT service... EXCELLENT atmosphere... and most definitely, EXCELLENT food!!!

sabrosa  

This is not your everyday 'chips and salsa' mexican restaurant. The wide variety of authentic and unbelievably delicious food made the whole dining experience something to remember. I was impressed by the food, service and ambiance. We will be back soon. John

Mole  

EXELLENT,SERVICE!!! EXELLENT!!! TEQUILA AND THE BEST MOLE IN CALIFORNIA!!!!!!!!! I LOVE THIS RESTAURANT

FOOD & TEQUILA  

EXELLENT !!!!!!! ILOVE THIS PLACE.

Exellent  

exellent food and service!!!!!! romantic dining room and the most larger collection of tequila in USA

Perfecto!  

After several, long, and time-consuming days researching and browsing on the internet, I narrowed down the field to the one and only Mexican restaurant that I would highly recommend to all. The Agave, located in Old Town San Diego, has the the perfect and intimate atmosphere to begin a lovely night with your loved one. I made reservations at 8:00 PM. Once I arrived with my girlfriend, we were greated and escorted to our oceanview terrace table. Once on the candlelit terrace, our server was polite and prompt and suggested various appetizers and was knowledgeable when questioned about various items on the menu. Drinks were prompt and clean and the appetizers were very well adorned and prepared. For the dinner entree, I highly recommend their popular and signature dishthe Mole Poblano Don Julio. My girlfriend chose another type of red Mole. Both dishes were excellent, scrumptious, and desirable. The chicken was beautifully prepared and the Mole had a rich, creamy, and elegnat taste from the first to the last bite. For desert I highly recommend their Flan adorned with White and Brown Chocolate with Caramel. After reading several reviews prior to and after my visit at the restaurant, I for one can say that my far this restaurant exceeded my expectations and will make future visits to this restaurant. The memories of that night still linger in my memory and the emotions I felt that night being there on my 1st anniversary with my girlfriend will be one forever. Thanks EL AGAVE for a supurb job all around and for helping me out on that special night.

Perfecto!  

After several, long, and time-consuming days researching and browsing on the internet, I narrowed down the field to the one and only Mexican restaurant that I would highly recommend to all. The Agave, located in Old Town San Diego, has the the perfect and intimate atmosphere to begin a lovely night with your loved one. I made reservations at 8:00 PM. Once I arrived with my girlfriend, we were greated and escorted to our oceanview terrace table. Once on the candlelit terrace, our server was polite and prompt and suggested various appetizers and was knowledgeable when questioned about various items on the menu. Drinks were prompt and clean and the appetizers were very well adorned and prepared. For the dinner entree, I highly recommend their popular and signature dishthe Mole Poblano Don Julio. My girlfriend chose another type of red Mole. Both dishes were excellent, scrumptious, and desirable. The chicken was beautifully prepared and the Mole had a rich, creamy, and elegnat taste from the first to the last bite. For desert I highly recommend their Flan adorned with White and Brown Chocolate with Caramel. After reading several reviews prior to and after my visit at the restaurant, I for one can say that my far this restaurant exceeded my expectations and will make future visits to this restaurant. The memories of that night still linger in my memory and the emotions I felt that night being there on my 1st anniversary with my girlfriend will be one forever. Thanks EL AGAVE for a supurb job all around and for helping me out on that special night.

Not a nacho in sight!  

What a delightful time we had at this very authentic place in Old Town. Try the "Cadillac Marguerita" for a true taste treat, and then the Mole Poblano Don Julio -- it's a wonderfully complex dish. Fabulous food and a romantic setting, especially outside on the balcony!!

OH MY GOODNIGHT SHIRT!!!!!  

I booked my reservation online based on others reviews. Geraldo made several recommendations for dinner...I went with the Filet Chipolte...OUTSTANDING CHOICE!!!!! For dessert, the chocolate mousse was almost too pretty to eat..ALMOST but it did get ate & was fantastic!!!!! Edwardo made sure our experience was unforgettable..impecable service. Did not feel rushed & enjoyed our meal tremedously!!! Would make El Agave a MUST when we come back!!!! Thank you for the great expericene!!!!

Review Disputed  

THIS REVIEW IS A LIE. I WAS THERE AND EVEN CONVERSED WITH THIS PARTY:....Date: June.09.2007 13:16 Rating: Name: Ralph Title: Good Food, Poor Service, Too expensive Review: The food and tequilla selection is good. After that, there is not much positive to say. We are from the Bay Area and compared to similar restaurants in San Francisco, this place is way too expensive for what you get, and the service was uncomfortable at best. After we first sat down we could hear a bottle of tequilla in a locked display case rattle against the glass. When we asked the waitress about it, she refused to do anything. We had to flag down another waiter to open the display case and s ... Full Review Restaurant Response: Respond to this comment THIS REVIEW IS A LIE. I WAS SEATED AT THE TABLE NEXT TO THESE PEOPLE. WHEN THEY ASKED FOR THE BOTTLE TO BE MOVED SO IT WOULD NOT RATTLE AGAINST THE GLASS THE WAITRESS IMMEDIATELY ASKED ALBERTO TO CORRECT IT WHICH HE PROMPTLY DID BY UNLOCKING THE CASE AND MOVING THE BOTTLE. THE LADY WHO HAD CRIED ABOUT IT IMMEDIATELY SAID THANK YOU AND THAT IS MUCH BETTER. I DISCUSSED THE FACT WITH THIS PARTY THAT THE MENU ENTREES ARE ON THE UPPER END BUT THE FOOD IS OUTSTANDING. WE WERE STILL THERE WHEN THIS PARTY STOOD UP TO LEAVE AND ONE GENTLEMAN IN THE PARTY TOLD ME, YOU ARE CORRECT, THE FOOD WAS VERY GOOD. I PAID PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THEIR TABLE BECAUSE I LIKE THE WAITRESS WHO WAS SERVING THEM AND I WAS SEATED RIGHT NEXT TO THEM. FAVIOLA DID AN OUTSTANDING JOB AS USUAL AND AS FAR AS THEM SAYING SHE REFUSED TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE BOTTLE, THAT IS A LIE. THESE PEOPLE DID NOT FLAG DOWN ANYONE. SHE IMMEDIATELY TOOK CARE OF IT. THIS IS JUST A CASE WHERE THESE JERKS FOUND THEMSELVES IN AN UPSCALE OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT THAT WAS SIMPLY OUT OF THEIR PRICE RANGE AND THE BEST THEY CAN DO IS PLACE THE BLAME ON A 26 YEAR OLD GIRL. SHAME ON THEM AND GOOD RIDANCE. DON'T COME BACK.

Great Food, Top Notch Service  

Walking in the front door for the first time can be almost overwhelming especially if you're like me and the word Tequila immediately brings images of Jose Cuervo shooters to mind. Fortunately there is a small bar by the entrance where we immediately decided to light and get our bearings. We greeted warmly there by Juan who turned out to be a real treasure trove of knowledge on tequila. After a brief introduction we settled on a caballito of the house brand reposado and one of their blanco which came in a nice rather uniquely styled holder. While we slowly savored these 2 great tasting but obviously different drinks, Juan cordially answered all our questions and offered many insights into the styles of tequilas, traditions etc. Time very well spent and enjoyed.

Eventually we moved on to dinner and chose to sit on the very attractive covered terrace. We were immediately served small home breads with chipotle and mole dipping sauces which helped us take our time with their extensive menu.

After starting with the wonderfully flavorful Tlacoyos Cuitlacoche my girlfriend and I shared the Mole Poblano and the Sea Bass Ajo y Achiote. I'm not an expert on Mexican cuisine, but the Mole was terrific. Easily the best I've had in the states. I feel a little more familiar with seafood and loved the Bass. Just outstanding. The portions were generous which kept us from even considering dessert that night.

Even though we were only in town for a couple of days we decided to come back again and try their warmly reviewed flan. On our next visit we warmly greeted by Juan who seated us at our "old" table! It felt a little too late in the evening to order coffee to accompany the flan so Juan suggested, what else, dessert tequila! Actually Agavero which matched up well the excellent flan. What a treat El Agave was!

We went for the experience of authentic Mexican meals and we very impressed with not only the food but service and in fact the whole experience. I suppose that some of the entrees might be considered nouveau blends but many of the ingredients and sauces have a long historical tradition; a fact that the staff seems proud of and more than willing to elaborate on. By the way we had very nice waiters who were courteous, knowledgable and available but Juan's discreet yet attentive presence really made us feel special. Both visits were memorable and we certainly plan to return next time we are in town. I'd recommend it a "must visit" for entertaining friends or family or just a good reason to go out!

outstanding  

Highest recommendation for this unique mexican restaurant. Outstanding, friendly service, and equally outstanding delicious food.

Confused  

THe food was excellent. The Flan...some of the best I have ever had. Evidently I was confused with the menu....I ordered two entres and didn't realize it until the first one came. I thought I had ordere and appetizer and an entre. Cancelled the second entre and enjoyed the first.....delicious! The flan was definitely the star of the show. Will definitely go back to this restuarant.

Almost perfect  

Great selection of tequila, nice to try something new. Food was excellent. Not your usual Californian Mexican menu, more authentic. Only problem is bathrooms, they need to clean them up, otherwise 5 stars.

Superb atmosphere and food  

Wonderful ambiance. Great and different food than most Mexican restaurants. Loved the Negro Mole!!

Luncheon  

Outstanding food. Service good. Neat atmosphere. Will return.

What a Treat  

We loved the ambiance, food, service. It was a little more $$$ than we expected, but we loved it. Suggestion to the owner...your bathrooms were a BIG dissapointment.

Great food...  

I have been tasting food and drinking magaritas for a long time, so this place gets the thumbs up on food and magaritas. Awesome selection of Tequila to do shots from a list of many.

Great Food  

You get what you pay for. Yes the food was expensive but worth it. Mole was really good and the tiramisu. Was going to try for the flan but they ran out of it. We will be back!!!!!!

Great Tequila  

El Agave gave me the best experience in terms of real Tequilas and other liquor. The ambience is good and so is the food although I did not quite take to the black mole sauce. But that is just a personal preference. Overall a good experience that is recommended!

Great Service  

My boyfriened and I went to El Agave for our anniversary and we were both pleased with the service and our food. We didn't have to wait long to be served, and they would check up on us every now and then. The ambience is very rustic, comfortable and romantic, although it was a little noisey, due to the people in front of (too much tequila) us. Overall, I would totally reccomend this place to everyone.

Real Mexican Food  

As a Mexico City native I must say this restaurant offers the only authentic Mexican Food in Town. The place has the feel of a Mexico City cantina-eatery type of restaurant. The Moles are excelent and taste excatly like the ones from central mexico. I was overwhelmed by the variety of tequilas, some of them very rare to find even in Mexico (like caballo moro and Porfidio) I recomend this place to all who want to try the real and fine mexican cusine...Although if you are looking for cheap margaritas, chips and salsa (non of them mexican items) this is not your place. Buen provecho.

Definitely worth a visit  

We had been here about 5 years ago. The mole is by far a must try. To to me it's a little pricey for some chicken and mole, but I must say, it's worth it on occasion. There must be over 500 hundred types of tequila. Again, expensive for a shot. Service was OK. Waiters kind of quiet. So not a 5, but still a restaurant if seeking some good mole.

Ok, not great  

With all of the tequila bottles around the room, we expected a suggestion list or special margarita ideas. Not being tequila experts, we hoped for suggestions. The waiter was not very helpful and so we had the house margarita. When it came, we wondered if there was any tequila in them they were so tasteless. We had a second, golden and it was much better. Do not order the house margarita. The service was just OK, the waiter was not helpful at all and seemed to be distracted. Our appetizers were average but, the sea bass for the main course was very good indeed. I don't think we would go back there again as it didn't leave a "wow" impression with us.

Great food & view!  

We had a great visit to el Agave for lunch. I will say that although we did enjoy our visit, there were a few drawbacks--no lunch menu, expensive entrees, hit-or-miss servers. Their prices are outrageous for lunch--even for dinner they seemed high for a Mexican joint. Not handicapped accessible, also. Anyhow, we ordered appetizers--delicious, large servings. Our margaritas were wonderful and the many varieties of tequila are worth stopping in to try every so often. Sit out on the patio and enjoy the view--but don't expect your server to hover nearby. You might want to ask for the check early or you might be waiting. And ask the person in the bar for recommendations on tequila--not the server.

Great mole, terrible service  

The mole is outstanding and we take guests there for those entrees alone. But prices are very high and the house margaritas, as we discovered on our bill, were nearly $10 each. Service is consistantly bad but generally worth tolerating for the mole. You just have to go with mindset (and warn your dinner companions) that service will be inattentive and unknowledgable. It's too bad the staff knows little about tequila, because El Agave has a wonderful selection. It took us 15 minutes and several requests, though, just to get a look at the tequila menu.

Whats up with your Desabrida Comida  

My name is Daniel and in Valantines Day I decide to take my mom and girl to have dinner search for some places and well check some reviews and decide to go for El Agave now it was impresive the bottles so many of different Tequilas the service was great really friendly like Mexicans are and the entry was good really good i like it but ohh my god you guys have to clean more often that restroom and my disapoitment was that the shirmp cancun my girl order didn't hve no taste the mole Don Julio I was expecting something better and the Fish my mom have fair but not Exellent the word for the food its "DESABRIDA" MEANS NO TASTE and Im Mexican was living in Mewxico cituy and Guadalajara for several years and thats not a real taste of the real Mexican food work more on that food and if you keep that food like that at least lower the prices because its not that good for that price

bad service  

Good food and bad service. My boyfriend and I ordered maragritas and a quesadilla appetizer. I was hoping for the kind of margaritas I had had at the Rio in Las Vegas, but no luck. It did have a lot of booze in it though. I'm not sure why the service was so bad though. We were sitting there for awhile before our server came back to take our order

Bad service  

I took my out-of-town guests there for an Old Town experience and I wish I hadn't! The waitress was pretty much non-existent and she put us in some corner away from everything and everyone else. Too expensive, the margaritas were way too strong and they didn't even have chips and salsa!!! They gave us bread and said they don't have chips. What kind of Mexican restaurant is this?

Good Food, Poor Service  

We dined at El Agave on Saturday night, and while the food was exquisite, the service truly left something to be desired. Dinner for four was just over $200 with drinks, and the service was definitely lacking for the price tag. When we arrived, the hostess initially attempted to seat us outside, with the inside being relatively empty. No drink menu or explanation of the many different tequilas was provided at the begining of the evening which seemed odd considering their emphasis in decor. The food arrived in a timely manner, I was just dissappointed in the effort to ensure our satisfaction.

Horribly overpriced for good food and poor service  

I'm just not getting how this restaurant can justify $30+ dinner plates, $10+ house margaritas, and cramped seating, yet judging by last Sat. night's crowd, I guess they can somehow. Very uncomfortable wooden chairs, and extremely cramped seating. Our waiter was terrible, one step below Tio Leos. You do not come around and say "ready to order". You suggest plates, respond to questions about your entrees, and should at least be able to know how the sea bass is prepared. We will not be returning anytime soon. Granted, the salmon was delicious, but at double the price it should have been.

Good Food, Poor Service, Too expensive  

The food and tequilla selection is good. After that, there is not much positive to say. We are from the Bay Area and compared to similar restaurants in San Francisco, this place is way too expensive for what you get, and the service was uncomfortable at best. After we first sat down we could hear a bottle of tequilla in a locked display case rattle against the glass. When we asked the waitress about it, she refused to do anything. We had to flag down another waiter to open the display case and stop the noise. After that, it was unfortable eating there. I don't mind paying for great food and service. This is one place that will not give you that.

What Service?  

After dinning at El Agave multiple times, our most recent visit was a disappointment. The service was poor. In fact, I am reluctant to call it service. Food servers stood within 3 Ft. of our table and held open conversations in Spanish. A kitchen worker entered the patio (where we were seated) multiple times to make cell phone calls. The dinning area on the patio was treated (by staff) as if if was a porch for congregating. Our waiter's salutation was "OK". If it wasn't for other station waiters, we would probably still be there. The food is always great but we may never go back.

Fell short  

For all the rave it fell short. Bus staff great. Waiter hardly spent any time at the table. At our table the entrees were either overcooked or undercooked. Squash blossom soup bland. Absolutely not worth the price.

VERY DISAPPOINTING  

The worst 100.00 dollars ever spent. We had a very "blah" evening during restaurant week. To be specific when we arrived the hostess assumed we had no reservations and sat us outside (it was a chilly night)-eventually we were re-seated. The "House Special" margaritas were diluted with no flavor (mind you, this was the waiter's recommendation and after he assured me the tequila was a good grade tequila for margaritas. The appetizers - specitas surtidos and the sopa azteca (each normally 9.00 each) were very bland and the sopa was basically tomato soup from a can. The main entrees - sea bass verracruzano and filet agave (filet mignon with a tequila sauce) - horrible. The sea bass sauce was over-salted and served with pepperoncini peppers (yup, italian peppers when advertised as pasilla chiles) - again basically a can of tomato sauce with salt poured over the fish. The filet ordered medium was well done and again "BLAND" with almost an apple sauce served with it (no tequila flavor what so ever). Lastly, dessert - flan and cheesecake. The flan was overcooked eggs - yuck!!! and stiff as bread. The cheesecake was sweetened sour cream on a vanilla cake base (no disecernible cheesecake texture or flavor). The wait staff was horrible - we had to ask for water and never offered a refill. I will NEVER return. Trust me this place is not authentic (I have been to many regions of Mexico and tasted many of these dishes - no resemblance what so ever). Seriously even the rice was bland and almost white with no flavor. The corn was molded into a gourmet wheel and was "straight from a can". El AGAVE -the tequila from a bottle and the food from a can.

Not worth the money  

When I first walked in to this restaurant, my hopes were high. The atmosphere is charming. However, the room was a little crowded and noisy. The food was good, but certainly not worth the high price tag (our bill for 4 people was $250). No one at our table raved about anything that they ordered. Disappointing, because I had seen very favorable reviews for this restaurant elsewhere...

You've got to be kidding...  

I read the reviews, and as a result I expected a dinner created by a chef... I received was "Camarones Tamarindo" which were overcooked into toughness, then mercilessly drowned in sauce that left little to salavage the experience. I have eaten better at shrimp at Rubio's... the only saving grace was it's quaint atmosphere, excellent tortillas, and fair Sangria. If you go, order something other than abused shrimp!

Big Disappointment  

Another disappointing Mexican restaurant in San Diego. It has many fooled. On 1/22/04 I dined with 2 companions. The Margaritas were great. Made as they should be with real lime juice and 100% blue agave tequila. Everything else was down hill. The service was extremely slow and the place wasn't even full. I ordered the shrimp with guajillo peppers. The shrimp were EXTREMELY overcooked (i.e., dry, rubbery). And the peppers were reconstituted dried and sliced which means they brought little flavor to the dish. I expected a sauce. One dinner mate had the beef filet with chipotle sauce ordered medium. It arrived VERY RARE. Obviously this kitchen does not pay attention to details. Save your money and find a mom & pop place in a bad neighborhood.

Lack of service basically ruined the dinner  

The food was very good, but drastically overpriced. I don't see how they can get away with charging those prices? The sides were an afterthought-basic rice and a flavorless hollowed out steamed squash filled with a tablespoon of something resembling Veg-All out of the can, with some chive garnish. The main dishes were excellent, perfectly cooked seafood and unique sauces. Service is the major downfall--it was non-existant. We hasd to ask twice for water refills. Our tequila glasses were empty and we were never asked if we would like more, had to ask again for that. Huge tequila menu, but the waitress was unable to reccomend ANYTHING and couldn't tell us about any of them. So basically you look at a yequila menu with hundreds of bottles listed, no desription, but a hefty price. I sure would have liked to try a few I've never heard of, and even a hint of knowledge from the wait staff would have been appreciated. Our server came to our table once during the dinner to check up on us. The meal was over $100. We were insulted. The horrible service put a huge damper on our meal, and left a very bad taste in our mouth. Won't be back. I urge peeople to seriously read the reviews posted for El Agave. I read them and still went there, now I know that all the negative comments were totally warranted. Too bad.

overpriced/poor service  

The service and quality of food was poor/served cold

Poor Service, Average Food  

My wife and I decided to try another Mexican restuarant in Old Town. Our favorite one was Casa De Bandini, which we frequented at least once a month for many years before it closed. They had to close because Old Town was completly revamped After eating there we have not found a good replacement. Based on the reviews, We decided to try El Agave. Upon entering the restaurant and seeing the multitude of tequila bottles decorated on the walls , both my wife and I got very excited and were anxious to try some of the tequila. However, when our waiter asked us what we would like to drink, he did not even suggest anything else but the House Margarita. Not only did he reluctly showed me the tequila menu after I requested it, but he did not even return later to ask if I wanted to try any. At this point, I knew we were in trouble. Based on his ambivalent attitute, my high expectations about dinner quickly diminished. Both my wife and I ordered seafood dishes, based on the waiters recommendations. The waiter brought my wife the wrong entree, Squid instead of shrimp. He returned within 10 minutes with the correct dish which was extremely bland. Basically boiled shrimp with some rice and beans in a watery orange juice-like sauce. My seabass entree tasted average with the seabass being overly cooked and dry. Based on the prices for the 2 entrees I expected better presentation and much more flavorful food. Both my wife and I have eaten in alot of mexican restaurants,and we both rate the food and service at this establishment very poorly. Definitely not recommended.

Poor Service ok food  

Our experience at El Agave was nothing like I had requested when I had placed my reservation online. I had specifically written that we were entertaining guests from out of town and wanted to impress them. I had requested that we be educated on all the different tequilas (which is a huge part of the concept of your restaurant and should be part of the dining experience at El Agave). Our reservation was early (6:30) and your restaurant had mostly empty tables. Our waiter barely greeted us when tossing some menus onto the table. He later came back and asked us for our drink order. NOT ONCE WAS THERE EVEN MENTION OF TEQUILA! I couldn't believe it. Our guests asked for a wine list of which they were told you only serve one brand of wine. This was a perfect chance for the waiter to explain that El Agave specializes in your many tequila's. Not one word from his mouth about Tequila. Our meal went on with crappy service and nothing to make our experience special or unique in any way. I was not only dissapointed, but extremely embarrased that I had suggested the restaurant. Prior to our recent dining experience I had been boasting about your restaurant to another couple and was planning to entertain them there, but now I will not. I will instead tell them of this most recent dining experience and spread the word that your restaurant has gone down hill and fast.

Nightmare Dinner experience  

If you can avoid having dinner at this place, please do so, This Restaurant has one of the worst services I have ever experience in fine dinning, The server who happens to be the MANAGER with a not very friendly appereance do not have a clue about service, did not mention any specials (drink or food) just took our margaritas order, did not recomend dishes and when ask about some some ingredients in the dishes he did not had the information, it took him 35 minutes to bring our first meal and the margaritas came after that and we had to ask for more drinks, we request some wine sinve they have a cellar wine but he did not had a clue about it and he didi not made any other suggestions. We where entertainig some clients and this was a huge mistake going to this place. Price was to high for the bad service and average food that you can find in other fine dinnig Mexican restaurants in San Diego. I will never recomend this place. Price is to expensive for the service you receive

OVERPRICED FOOD, HORRIBLE SERVICE  

OVERALL A VERY BAD EXPERIENCE. The food was tastless. the waiter was rude and insulting. The service was slow and the food and drink were seriously overpriced. I would stay clear of this place.

Over priced!  

I took my mother and a friend to this place. The drinks where small. We had a total of 6 drinks among us after food 150 dollars not including tip. The food was coarse and tough the drinks tasted watered down. and the worst of all was the service. Terrible service. I HAD TO GET MY OWN WATER!! Worst restaurant ever! I felt raped when I paid the bill. Save your money people, DINERS BEWARE! Steer clear, at all costs!

worst restaurant in SD  

This was the worst service and food I've ever had in San Diego. I was embaressed to have brought people from out of town to eat here!

Again!  

Alfredo. I still don't know from where were you able to look at the sea. Not more margaritas for you mi amigo!. next I don't know what happened to my other review. but here I go again. I was greated at the door with a cold, Do you have reservations?. next the mole was good but the waitres was bad and more interested in the party she and the bartender had at the bar. When I inquired about the tequilas she went to ask the bold guy at the bar and forgot about coming back! she told me all the moles where the same sauce and she never mentioned the tequila again. the guy at the bar left when I went to the bar, and went back to the kitchen with the waitres and you could still listen to them having fun from the outside! I felt more lost than that poor Quixote they have outside. by the way that is not mexican. I am! the mole is more than good is exellent! but no thanks! a little to much expensive for that kind of service. and for the other guy. stay away from people or get a new liver!

Sad little restaurant.  

I must say the decoration it's Beautiful! The tequila display it's worth the visit. But the service is bad. bad. bad. even worst when I asked if the manager was there I was told that my server was THE MANAGER??? No point in complaining then. despotic, rude,and they made me feel as if I was cheap and a waste of their time. To bad that a party of two with a $75 dollars bill is not good enough for them. the food. well is mexican food, but with that price tag my friends is not worth your money I had better service at Dennys.

Sad little restaurant.  

I must say the decoration it's Beautiful! The tequila display it's worth the visit. But the service is bad. bad. bad. even worst when I asked if the manager was there I was told that my server was THE MANAGER??? No point in complaining then. despotic, rude,and they made me feel as if I was cheap and a waste of their time. To bad that a party of two with a $75 dollars bill is not good enough for them. the food. well is mexican food, but with that price tag my friends is not worth your money I had better service at Dennys.

Mexican??? Don't think so!!!  

This is NOT A MEXICAN RESTAURANT AT ALL..... All the Mexican Restaurants are known for their warm and friendly staff, the smell of food that makes you come back for more. Unfortunately we didn't get that far. Needed to wait till the waiter got off the phone on a personal call, someone else came to sit us down out side and the plate were dusty and bugs all over. We got up and said we like to eat inside. That table had bugs too, menus were old and torn. For the 2nd time he did not ask us if we like something to drink or start us with something or say a 'HELLO WELCOME'!! After waiting & waiting we just got up and left. No need to eat some where we are not welcome nor wanted. That is not the Mexican way. If I'm wrong-please correct me.