If you’ve ever walked around Old Town San Diego before you might have never noticed El Agave. And it’s too bad because they have quite a fun spread above the Old Town Liquor and Deli on the first floor. It is located on the South Eastern end of Old Town, a little bit off the regular path you’ve probably walked many times before. They feature over 2000(!!!) different tequilas for you to try and some fantastic food to go along with it.
One nice thing about dining here is the parking lot shared with the other businesses. Parking in Old Town can get a little difficult at times.
As you walk in you come upon a giant wall of tequila. It would take over 5 years to sample all the tequila if you had one each day. That is an unbelievable selection to choose from.
The main dining room also showcases more of their tequila selection with bottles upon bottles on display. I’ve never been surrounded by so much tequila before!
They start you off with two salsas and a warm bean dip. Not too many places serve a warm bean dip to go along with your chips, let alone two different kinds of salsa. I like this places style already.
Friend #1 (let’s call him J1) ordered what I believe was a Tamarind Margarita. He seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.
The main reason for our visit was to try the new vegetarian menu options now being offered. Luckily I brought some veg lovers along with me on this visit. We kind of ordered a few different things and shared it family style. The first was the Chile Relleno. I’ve never had a chile relleno that wasn’t either fried or stuffed with cheese. Their vegetarian version was unapologetic about allowing the vegetables to shine along with the tangy vinaigrette. There were all sorts of goodies inside once you cut the poblano pepper open. At first I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing, whether it be the cheese or some sort of meat. But after the first bite I started hunting for mushrooms and enjoyed the dish.
J1 thought the mole enchiladas looked good. And they were a big hit! I don’t think he was given a choice of mole but it looks like the negro to me which has four different chiles: pasilla, mulato, ancho, and chipotle. J1 loved the dish so much he stopped eating just to inform us of said love. This was turning out to be a nice meal.
Other friend (J2) had his eye on the vegetarian chalupas. They come with soy chorizo and J2 liked the dish he ordered too. The soy chorizo was quite light and clean tasting, unlike the typical greasy and fatty chorizo I’m used to. This was J2’s favorite dish of the evening.
There was a mix up with our order and this actually came out instead of the Chalupitas de Chorizo de Soya. Instead of wasting it, we decided to give it a try and compare it to the other vegetarian version. The lobster chunks were juicy and the cheese and cream also added a nice creaminess to the bite. These were very good. the chalupas themselves had a nice texture that was hard enough to hold all the ingredients together, but soft enough to bite right through and chew.
There was a pretty extensive selection of mole’s to choose from. Not 2000 different kinds, but enough to peak my interest. Our waiter suggested the trio so we could try three different ones. The chicken was moist and served as a great vessel to soak up the different mole’s with. After a while the sauces mixed, but I think my favorite was the rojo. It had a good balance and savory taste with a subtle nuttiness. The verde didn’t have as much punch and the amarillo was very nutty and came off a little sweet.
J1 and J2 were not used to eating this much food and the thought of multiple desserts did not appeal to them. Lightweights! Well, we shared one last dish to round out our meal. The sugar crust broke apart nicely and the chocolate flavor was strong, but not overpowering. Overall, a nice way to end things.
A few things to sum up our dining experience. I don’t normally eat strictly vegetarian main courses. These were very good. So good that I would be perfectly happy ordering them on their own. Both of my veg friends seemed to enjoy them quite a bit as well and left happy campers. The ambiance and being surrounded by so much tequila might seem a little odd, but it is actually pretty fun and unique. For whatever reason on this night, service was very slow. I think they had more customers than they could serve, which is a good problem to have. The waiters were very attentive, did the best they could, and apologized for the long wait times. All that being said, the food all around surprised me. It began like a blank sheet of paper and I ended up with a full page of color and design. There wasn’t a dish that disappointed and each of us had three separate favorite dishes (mine being the trio of mole’s if you couldn’t tell). If you are vegetarian or even if you are not, there are a lot of choices at El Agave that will probably make you smile. Oh, and don’t forget. They have a lot of tequila too to wash it all down.
Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here, but the opinions stated are our own.
2304 San Diego Ave., Ste B
San Diego, CA 92110