Salsa and Agave

Last week we were in Yaletown and decided to try a place that we heard had great, authentic Mexican food. When we approached the restaurant, it was a little confusing because it looked like there were two locations of Salsa & Agave, separated by only one or two stores. After a minute we realized that one location is solely dedicated to take out and the other was more of a sit-down restaurant. Nevertheless, the restaurant is very small, with only about 20-30 seats. The decor is nothing special, but the deep red walls are pretty unusual.

Our server was very helpful, asking us if it was our first time to the restaurant, and offering to answer any questions that we have about the menu, even though the place was quite busy with the lunch crowd. The great thing is that the server never tried to rush us at all throughout our meal, even though by the end of our lunch the place was hoppin'.

Shortly after we sat down, our server brought complimentary salsa and chips to our table. The chips were pretty standard, and the salsa was moderately tasty, with a pureed consistency. We prefer more lime and spiciness in salsa, but I suppose this is a matter of taste.

For drinks, I ordered the Horchata, a rice-based Mexican drink. I'd never tried it before and  I was pleasantly surprised by the delectable cinnamon flavour. It was a little too sweet, but still pretty refreshing to drink, especially after the ice cubes started to melt. Shane ordered the purple hibiscus drink (not pictured), and it was sourish and very sweet, and not our favourite.

We ordered a set of 4 tacos for $8. We choose two of carne asada, one pastor, and one chorizo. The tacos were palm-sized with a double layer of tortillas, and were accompanied by a red salsa, finely chopped onion, cilantro, and generous wedge of lime. The chorizo filling had a subtle kick and went really well with a squeeze of lime. The pastor was the most intriguing looking, with large chunks of pork in a red sauce; however, it wasn't very memorable, and could have used stronger seasoning. The carne asada was probably my favourite in terms of taste; it was nicely spiced and tasted pretty good. However, the beef was a little unappetizing looking, cut into thin squares and cooked to a deep gray colour.

While the tacos were certainly enjoyable, we much prefer those sold at La Taqueria. Those tacos had better cooked protein, and the flavours have a lot more punch.

We also shared the beef enchiladas ($12) with green tomatillo sauce. Overall, the dish tasted good and had a comforting feel that dishes with baked cheese seem to always have. However, there were a few issues with this dish. First, the beef filling was identical to the ones used in the carne asada tacos; this made us feel like we were eating the same dish, that there was just one way they made beef. Secondly, the rice lacked flavour, and more than that, it was a little overcooked, with broken grains. However, the beans were smooth and rich tasting, and the tomatillo sauce had nice flavour and tang.

Would we come back here again? Yes, but only if we were in the neighbourhood. Salsa and Agave's food is moderately good if you are in the mood for Mexican, but it is not exactly the ultimate food experience. The cuisine lacked a certain freshness and burst of flavour. We were expecting a lot more, and we were a little disappointed.

Salsa & Agave Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

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