I first heard about Agave Y Aguacate from Steven Davey’s review in NOW Magazine. I hadn’t noticed the rating he had given it at the time – 5 N’s – but wholly concur after making my own visit to this one-man operation. Everything is made fresh and to-order – tostadas are fried, guacamole is prepped, tomatoes are sliced – all while you patiently observe and salivate. Watching Francisco Alejandri work is fascinating, as it reveals the care he puts into the creation of every dish. And the results are worth it.
I started with the green tostada. The guacamole is heavily laced with lime – just the way I like it – and piled on a freshly fried tostada with lightly marinated tomatoes and a slice of queso fresco cheese. It is then topped with crema, as well as a guajillo chili and tomatillo salsa. This dish, while rich and creamy from the guacamole, cheese, and crema, gets balanced out by the acid from the tomatoes and lime. The salsa gave things a vague hint of heat and a little sweetness. I splashed some of the habanero sauce that was on offer beside the table, but the sauce wasn’t very hot and I thought the dish was better without it. The fresh and bright flavours really took me away from the dreary rain spitting from the grey sky outside.
Like the green tostada, the flank steak salad had great fresh flavours – lime, fresh red onion, vinegar, jalapeño, tomato, coriander – mixed with the shredded flank steak. And sided with tortilla chips that are fried to order, apparently. I missed this part as I was dorking away on my cell, but I remember hearing the sizzle from the fryer. I could have used more jalapeño for more kick, but the flank steak salad was a really beautifully crafted dish with awesome layers of flavour. I also somehow thought this was a sandwich when I first read the menu. Must read slower.
No photo (gasp, I know) of the pinto bean soup I had taken home to eat. This soup – made to order(!), like every thing else – was piping hot when it went into the container. A container that had fresh chunks of avocado in it. And if you’ve ever cooked avocado, you’ll know it gets bitter. Otherwise, this carefully crafted soup was quite good and filling. Made with ancho chiles, more of the queso fresco cheese, and topped with tortilla strips and crema.
Remembering that the NOW review had directed readers to not leave without the lime Charolotte, I got this dessert to-go as I was both full and out of time. Lime-custard layers alternating with Maria biscuits topped with fresh lime zest and dose of arbequina olive oil. This is a dense and creamy confection, lightened by the citrusy zing of the lime.
I missed out on a few things on the menu, but the one thing that I wished I had ordered: the hibiscus agua fresca. Sounds refreshingly delicious! Will have to save that for my next visit. To make your own visit to Agave Y Aguacate, look for El Gordo’s Fine Foods with signs on the outside for churros. Go in and head past the bakery toward the various food vendors at the back. Though this is a counter-only kind of place (with maybe five seats shared in the entire space), optimally, you want to eat the food as soon as you can. Take-out isn’t the main thrust here.
Most dishes hover around around the $5 mark (cash only), so things aren’t expensive, but portions are more snack-sized than meal-sized for the items I tried. I went during a slow period, so had no issues with the speed of preparation, but during lunch, I can imagine things getting pretty slow. Fast food, this isn’t, so don’t be in a rush if you visit Agave Y Aguacate. Quality takes time, and this is well worth the wait.
- Menu (on flickr)
- Linked from
More at Agave Y Aguacate
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April 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm
I thought this place was fantastic as well! This guy really needs some exposure as he’s doing some incredible food from a couple of induction hobs and a postage stamp sized prep space. I did have the agua and it is fantastic. If it were bottled i would buy it by the caseload.
April 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm
Whoa, will have to go back for that! Thanks Dave!
April 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm
Can’t wait to go here! I’ve read so much about this place lately, but had trouble finding actual photos of what the food looked like. Hurrah for you post. It’s totally making me want to go this weekend. Thanks!
April 8, 2011 at 2:50 pm
Just make sure you have something to help you keep the time. I didn’t think it was a long wait, but I was only one of two customers.
April 9, 2011 at 10:45 am
From the map on Urbanspoon, it looks like it is closer to El Trompo. I tried to find this place and giving up only to end up back to Mexican Salsas. Has anyone been to Salsas recently? I was there a few months ago and it was 2 tacos for the price but now it is 1 taco. The women behind the counter served me with disdain but the tripe soup was quite spicy! Aside from that, they are packed quite often now. Oh well, I guess the secret is out I guess.
Love the churros at Panchos Bakery!
April 9, 2011 at 11:05 am
Spatula, it’s actually IN the Churros/Panchos Bakery place – so inside El Gordo’s Fine Foods. Go past the bakery to the food stalls at the back. You’ll know you’re at the right stall when you see the large red mural behind the man cooking.
April 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm
Wha? That’s crazy!
I was just digging through my pictures the last time I was there and there is already an empanada place, as well as a pupusa place and the Arepa market. What else is can they fit in there? Talk about a little food corner of heaven! Must remember to take camera.
There was a guy standing outside in a small alley between shops selling something like a south american version of kefta.
Thanks, Jen! 8)
That’s going to be my plan for today being sick. I’m a bit under the weather to go to the gym. What are you plans for today?
April 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm
Just had one of the last soft-shell crab sandwiches from Porchetta & Co. Pretty good and perfect for such a lovely day. Aaaannnd… that’s it. My day: mission accomplished.
April 10, 2011 at 1:53 pm
I got to Agave around 3pm and they said they ran out of steak by around 1pm! The line up was pretty long. When I asked some people in line they said that they had no idea what they were lining up for. It was a good show just watching the chef prep everything fresh and he was totally in his own world listening to his ipod. He preps the food in batches and he tastes each time which is good to see he ensures quality and consistency. I was really looking forward to the steak but got the green tostata which was really good. By the time I got my meal the lime charolotte was enjoyable however it was starting to fall apart and not very photogenic. I got a chance to try the agua fresca. It’s pretty brisk (lack of a better word) and slightly sweet but it has a nice astringency to it to clear the palatte.
Hopefully there are still some stuff left at the bake sale as I’m heading out now!
April 10, 2011 at 2:08 pm
Don’t think you’ll see this before you go, but get the macarons. Those were quite well done. Glad you were able to hit up AYA – good stuff. I need to go back soon…