I went in not expecting much.
When you are in Buffalo, New York, apparently Mexican food is not high on their list of what’s important in the world of gastronomy.
After all, the town is known for their wings, pizza and of course beer.
But I was determined and after some work on Yelp, Twitter and yes, the Internets, I found myself walking into Agave Mexican Restaurant.
With a name like Agave, you’d expect a lot of tequila and you would not be disappointed. But what stunned me was that this place was also pouring mezcal, my preferred choice. Granted, they only had one offering, but hey, the best mezcal is always the one in front of you, right?
As we looked at the menu, we got a small bowl of chips and some pretty bland salsa, and then we asked for some guacamole. The guac was great stuff. Chunky with bits of onion, tomato and just the right amount of cilantro. It needed salt, but that was an easy fix. I do wish places like this also offered a real salsa brava, instead of the bottled vinegar based stuff though.
I’ve got to be honest, the menu scared me. Anytime I eat in a Mexican Restaurant and see their plates numbered instead of named, I get nervous. It was that nervousness that caused me to skip the combos. You know the type… taco, enchilada, and tamal with rice and beans. I went straight for the tacos.
A plate of tacos can tell you a lot about a place. I tried them all. Carne Asada, chicken, al pastor, and carnitas. They are served on flour tortillas and you add your own salsa. Alongside you also got a plate of Spanish rice and refried beans with a little Monterey Jack cheese melted on top.
The quantity of meat was great. Each taco was stuffed and three would make a great meal. Both the carne asada and the chicken were tender, moist and flavorful. The al pastor, marinated in achiote sauce with pineapple, was a real treat. The pineapple mixed well with the sauce to give it a nice sweet, but also spicy taste. Not like what I’d get in Baja, but pretty good.
But by far the tacos I would go back for were the carnitas. Stuffed with shredded bits of perfectly tender braised pork, they were wonderful. Add a little salsa, some guac and these were excellent tacos.
The rice and beans however left a little, okay, a lot to be desired. The beans were canned and the rice devoid of flavor, even with the tomato flavored bullion they used in preparation. Maybe restaurants just don’t want to do the work of getting rice and beans right, and I get that. But if that is the case, just skip it rather than serve a bland stereotypical option.
Here’s where the rubber always meets the road for me. Would I go back? In this case, yes, and I’d order the tacos, but skip the rice and beans. I’d also skip the margaritas and go straight for the mezcal.
So, if you find yourself in Buffalo looking for tacos and Lloyd’s Taco Truck is nowhere to be found, check out Agave Mexican Restaurant in Elmwood Village. I think you’ll like it.
Agave Mexican Restaurant, 765 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, New York
Tacos for two, no rice or beans, with guacamole, chips, soda and tip… $25.00