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El Agave
El Agave

El Agave Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.elagave.com/
  • Email: elagave@yahoo.com
  • Phone: (619) 220-0692
  • Hours of Operation: Lunch: Monday - Sunday: 11:00am - 3:00pm; Dinner: Monday - Sunday: 2:30pm - 11:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: Mexican / Southwestern
  • Executive Chef: Juan Carlos Gomez
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar/Lounge, Beer, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Late Night, Non-Smoking Area, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Smoking Area, Takeout, View, Wine
  • Catering: Please call the restaurant for details.
  • Private Party Facilities: Deposit required. Please call the restaurant for details.
  • Private Party Contact: Carlos Aceves (619) 220-0692

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Old Town Ave
  • Parking: Private Lot
  • Parking Details: Street parking also available.
A word from El Agave
El Agave was voted “Best Mexican Restaurant” in the San Diego Reader and San Diego Magazine in 1999. Chef Juan Carlos Gomez was also voted “1999 Chef of the Year” in Home and Garden.
Foodspotting photos
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Diner Reviews
  • "First impression was doubtful, the place sits atop of a corner liquor store. However, we found the restaurant to be very charming with very good food and outstanding service. I ordered the fish Veracruz and it was cooked to perfection. My wife had the shrimp and my sister ordered the chulupas. We all enjoyed the food, however, for the price, they could have been a little larger for the portion size. The service was spot on, good drinks and a very nice setup. We will be back here again and I would recommend it to friends. My only tip, arrive early as parking can be a hassle. Small lot with few parking options, especially on a weekend night."
    Dined on 4/11/2014
  • "If you are looking for an inexpensive restaurant, a kid friendly restaurant or a quick bite this is not the place for you. Opentable said $$ so we assumed $10-20 a plate... Nope.. $30-40 is more like it... And for a few jumbo shrimp and some rice, though good, still not worth the price. There is no drink menu and no kids menu... So don't bother asking. When I think Mexican food I automatically start looking forward to tacos and burritos.. This place doesn't have that. Our server did a great job taking care of a last minute table for 14, however the food took over an hour to get to us and we were all pretty much ready to go by the time the food got there. Won't be going back."
    Dined on 4/10/2014
  • "El Agave is delicious. Perfect portions - excellent blend of spices in sauces - something special - not your run of the mill food. Margaritas are the bomb - they have hundreds of tequila, but it is their master blender who is great. The margarita with the fennel sugar on the rim, or the one with the fresh fruit blended into the salt! Great!!!"
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "This is not the"same" Mexican food that you always see in restaurants......it was what I call traditional in that I think it is what you would find in a fine restaurant south of the border. The Moles were FABULOUS and so were all the appetizers that we had. The service was good and if you like or want to Tequila this is the restaurant for you. There is not a wall without a bottle of tequila on it. They are displayed in a very tasteful way. It is a restaurant that we will return to when we return to San Diego for sure."
    Dined on 3/31/2014
  • "El Agave's hundreds of bottles of fine tequila glowing from the walls can not outshine the warm, unique and inviting opportunity to dine. I had the most perfectly cooked piece of fish I have ever experienced at this restaurant. It was sea bass over mashed potatoes on a bed of bright orange chipotle cream sauce with achiote. The soup was also amazing: pale green with a flavor similar to asparagus and artichoke, topped with a dollop of huitlacoche (a fungus that tastes like black truffle). I loved these dishes so much that I am ordering achiote and huitlacoche to try to replicate some of the flavors at home. Our server, Gerardo, was extremely knowledgable & hit the perfect balance between attentive/giving space. They use grass fed beef."
    Dined on 3/23/2014
  • "Not your typical mexican resturant. Good food, felt authentic. No combination platters or burritos Really good mole choices and seafood was top notch. Drinks were great and tasted super fresh. The only thing I will say is I made a reservation well ahead of time, and we were seated promptly, but we were seated outside and more then a few of the heating lamps were broken. I was freezing and was moved to a table closer to the lamps, but several other couples left because it was too cold and didn't expect to be outside (inside was full)."
    Dined on 3/22/2014
  • "Must try the margaritas!! The Lobster meatballs are excellent."
    Dined on 3/22/2014
  • "The restaurant's decor is built around an incredible display of bottles of tequila from all over Mexico. Over 2,000 different bottles of tequila! The food is of an absolutely superior kind. The Azteca Soup is to die for!"
    Dined on 3/10/2014
  • "The most noteworthy aspect of El Agave is the decor. Hundreds of tequila bottles of various colors (no two seemed to be alike) line the walls. Gently lit from behind, they glow like stained glass and suffuse the dining room with a soft romantic glow that is very appealing. The food and service were very good. The menu was much more sophisticated than the run-of-the-mill tacos, burritos, echiladas etc. that most Old Town restaurants offer. My only caveat is the price, which seemed to me about 25% to 35% higher than I've paid for comparable meals elsewhere. The wine list seemed especially overpriced."
    Dined on 3/8/2014
  • "This place was fabulous when it was new but it has failed to continually reinvent itself so that now the concept and execution is as dusty as the hundreds of tequila bottles displayed. The food was tasty but the menu is limited; they do what they do and they keep doing it rather than do something new or different. The wine list is very limited and I was amazed that with all the tequilas displayed that there was not an extensive menu of tequila choices offered. I watched the margaritas being made all from premade mix rather than fresh squeezed juices as I would have expected from a place that bills their margaritas as top shelf. The beer was ice cold by way of redemption."
    Dined on 2/23/2014
  • "Very unique menu, and EVERYTHING we had was outstanding. Huge selection of moles and tequila. Gourmet Mexican food at its finest!"
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "Very good food. Lots of Tequila choices. Tried the Filet Agave. DonJulio Añejo. busy night service a little slow."
    Dined on 3/5/2014
  • "We have consistently high quality meals there and the service is impeccable. Highly rated."
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "We had an awesome lunch for thirteen people, to celebrate our mother's 91st birthday. The restaurant staff was wonderful, the food was upscale Mexican food, beautifully presented and authentically flavorful. Our cheers to the chef and management. You made this event quite memorable, and we will be back."
    Dined on 2/23/2014
  • "Perhaps our expectations were too high based on a recommendation we had received, but other than the service by our waiter, this was 'just' very good. It is small and therefore, crowded. The decor is an almost unending display of reportedly 2500 bottles of Tequila. Interesting, but not warm and inviting. Their signature meals are based on Moles and they very literally dominate the underlying pork or chicken. The other menu items may be more flavorful, so if we go again, I'll share that experience."
    Dined on 2/15/2014
  • "The waiter was kind and extremely knowledgeable about tequila. I am a novice and was very pleased with his recommendation."
    Dined on 2/15/2014
  • "I was really looking foward to eating here. Unfortunately the service was awful. The server complained to us about the cooks right off the bat and the food took 45 min to reach our table. I wish I could say it was worth the wait but it was mediocre at best. With the amount of money we paid for dinner, I could have gone without hearing about the kitchen/server drama. Needless to say my husband and I left very disappointed. We will not be returning."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "This is the place for experiencing the delightful and flavorful variety of moles along with their optimal match of tequilas. Enjoy!"
    Dined on 2/12/2014
  • "I had been to El Agave a bit more than a year ago and thought it would be a great place to bring a colleague from the Midwest who was craving a high end Margarita and upscale Mexican food. I was so embarrassed! The margaritas were weak, overly sweet, and packed with ice. We were a party of six and two of the dinners were ice cold and had to be sent back to the kitchen to be heated. To make matters worse, the waiter acted bored and had to be flagged down to get basic service like refilling water glasses and ordering wine for dinner. The food was good overall but was overpriced and when taken into account with the poor quality of the drinks and the terrible service, I will not return and would never recommend the restaurant."
    Dined on 2/10/2014
  • "Its hard to explain how hundreds of empty tequila bottles on shelves, all backlit would be so beautiful but the ambiance at El Agave immediately lets you know you are somewhere special. You feel both romantic and excited with multicolored bottles everywhere. The tequila list is unsurpassed in San Diego and many staff are tequila knowledgeable. The moles and cactus salad are to die for. We've never had anything but a great meal and always confidently take out of town foodie friends there."
    Dined on 2/8/2014
  • "Great margaritas and more Mexican authentic than the many typical Mexican restaurants around town"
    Dined on 2/3/2014
  • "Well, we brought two friends on a blind date, they had a good time, the food was good. However, my friend ordered salmon without sauce, it came smothered in sauce. That was the only negative we had all night. I had shrimp in a tequila sauce, very tasty."
    Dined on 2/1/2014
  • "Great as always! Drinks are the best. The best tequilas available!"
    Dined on 1/27/2014
  • "This was a blind pick to meet with new friends. I was impressed by the atmosphere and how warm it was. Very eclectic décor that is inviting and unique. It feels like being with long lost family. The food is very upscale and the prices go with it. We enjoyed the dining menu for San Diego restaurant week. This is not your regular Mexican dining – everything is very fresh with plenty of good seafood with bright flavors. Make this a special occasion place for that special someone."
    Dined on 1/27/2014
  • "Food was very good, the service even better. Their house margarita was above average, but their forte' is in suggesting tequilas for sipping. They don't even bother with a tequila list (I'm sure it's very long and variable), if you don't know a specific brand that you want then they'll just ask you a few questions and then suggest two or three options. In my case, they brought two bottles to the table for me to sample before making my selection. Other reviewers say the place is expensive, and I would agree---but only a point. It's a semi-premium experience, and on that basis they charge appropriately, in my opinion (I've dined in some pretty premium venues, as I travel a lot for work). I'll be back next time I'm town, for sure."
    Dined on 1/23/2014
  • "Dinner was d'lish! Everything was cooked to perfection and the margarita was outstanding! Our table was great. A high table and stools that was very attractive and comfortable. The collection of tequila is impressive! It looks like a "liveable tequila museum" !"
    Dined on 1/24/2014
  • "The lunch offered for restaurant week was amazing. Great portions and quality fit for a King and Queen!"
    Dined on 1/19/2014
  • "El Agave is by far the best high end Mexican dining you will have in Southern California. In fact, one of the best of any cuisine. If you haven't been here, go. If you have, keep going. Not to mention the tequila selection and excellent service."
    Dined on 12/31/2013
  • "Great food, but unfortunately, the same old problem, the portions are too big! Lovely dining room with good ambience."
    Dined on 12/30/2013
  • "El Agave is a long-term fixture in the Old Town area of San Diego for a very good reason--it's consistently excellent! The restaurant is known for their outstanding mole sauces and high-end Mexican food as well as a phenomenal selection of tequilas covering a wide range of prices. Needless to say--outstanding margaritas. For those who understand there is a lot more to Mexican food than Taco Bell this is a continuing treasure. My seven brothers all insist on visiting for at least one dinner when in town--and sometimes two!"
    Dined on 12/27/2013
  • "Overall a nice experience. Food was good (2 of 4 in our party were presented with a less than hot entree). Service was slow and would have been enhanced if the server had paid more attention to our order and less to showing his "personality"."
    Dined on 12/27/2013
  • "The moles are really good. Many many tequilas! Nice waitstaff."
    Dined on 12/24/2013
  • "The meal at El Agave was superb. Service was top notch, attentive but not intrusive. Margaritas were excellent. Our two entrees were absolutely delicious."
    Dined on 12/14/2013
  • "Excellent preparation of food. Made more like my mother's cooking and not the usual greasy food you get in some other Mexican food restaurants. High quality homemade chorizo in the sopes."
    Dined on 12/9/2013
  • "Food was fabulous. Very different mex food...regional and creative. Margaritas were the best. Uses 100% agave. Lived here a long time and never been...we will definitely be back!!"
    Dined on 12/7/2013
  • "I dined here with a friend. My friend ordered the poblan mole. The chicken was dry and the mole was the worst ever - tasted like burnt chocolate with pepper. I had the sea bass. It was salty and tasted fishy and the vegetables were overcooked, lacked flavor and color. On the bright side, our margaritas and chalupa langosta (appetizers) were good. We should've quit while ahead. I won't dine here again."
    Dined on 9/16/2013
  • "Wait staff was very attentive and provided information on the tequillas. food was excellent"
    Dined on 11/23/2013
  • "The lobster meat balls were excellent. The chicken for the moles was dry. We received 2 trays of chips n dip which was great because everyone was hungry."
    Dined on 11/14/2013
  • "Really good Margaritas. The restaurant's signature dish are Moles which were well prepared and probably top notch even though it is not my favorite dish. The reason for the poor service rating had to do with one waiter and did not reflect on the other personnel in the restaurant. Our particular waiter was deliberately rude. He had an attitude from the start. Really nice the way the restaurant is decorated with all of the Tequila bottles. Would recommend the restaurant for a different Mexican experience."
    Dined on 11/16/2013
  • "You would think you are in Mexico by reading the menu choices. The mole - you are experiencing true Mexican mole at El Agave. The tequila selection lines the walls - hundreds of varieties of top shelf tequila. The food is exceptional - The Filete Agave should be featured on one of those Best of the Best cooking shows - it was melt in your mouth good."
    Dined on 11/13/2013