El Agave
El Agave

El Agave

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.elagave.com/
  • Phone: 6192200692
  • 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 6192200692

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.
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El Agave reviews from OpenTable diners
65 reviews since May 3, 2014
Overall Rating4.2
  • Food4.3
    Service4.2
  • Ambiance4.1
    Noise LevelModerate
90% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (29)special occasion (28)neighborhood gem (25)romantic (20)great for lunch (13)good for groups (10)great for outdoor dining (9)scenic view (5)vibrant bar scene (3)late-night find (3)notable wine list (3)Show More
  • Just what I hoped for
    Heloise60
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    I'd almost given up the quest for good quality Mexican food. I haven't yet found anything in the UK and was really keen to find the high-class Mexican cuisine I know exists while in California. I finally found it here - beautifully presented plates with delicious sauces. I see other reviews have commented on high prices. I don't really know what a Californian might expect to pay for a meal like this but I thought it worth every penny, certainly compared to the mostly over-priced and really quite average dining experiences I had last week in La Jolla.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    Tried Mole for the first time and loved it. Waiter was very helpful in trying new dishes.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Not What I Expected
    DreaM
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    I was really intrigued by their large tequila selection so we decided to give it a try. The restaurant is small and has an intimate feeling. The service lacked. I ordered a shot of tequila from their list. They didn't have it. I requested something similar. The host said they didn't have anything similar. With over 200 tequilas, they didn't have anything similar to what I ordered? We ordered their mole which was ok. The mole itself had good flavor, but they put it over bland chicken which affected the overall taste. Our margaritas came in broken glasses. The waiter took a long time to come refill our waters. They are a little too pricy for what they offer. This restaurant is not the fancy place it tries to portray online.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Memorable simply wonderful
    Goodtimes
    Dined on 8/12/2014
    We haven't stopped talking about this place since our dinner the other night. Amazing tequila, great service, the chicken mole was the best we've ever had-and we're from the southwest and love our moles! We will be back again and again and again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • El Agave is always Solid!
    STLGUY
    Dined on 8/11/2014
    Visit annually and always go to see Alberto at El Agave. Food is amazing, I tyically take business guests and they always walk away happy.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicious but overpriced
    Sunshine628VIP
    Dined on 8/10/2014
    Not enough mexican on the menu Lots of tequila, more than you imagined existed Upscale look but not what I expected for a mexican place
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Delicioso
    DinDin4meVIP
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    Pleasantly surprised with El Agave. Tasty cuisine and outstanding service. Although a bit pricey, I still highly recommend this Mexican restaurant if you are in Old Town.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Gret Experience...
    daisymiillerVIP
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    We visited the establishment on the recommendation of other diners. Not only were the drinks excellent (Cadillac margarita, Sangria), the sea bass that we had as our entree was probably the best I have ever had, and I am not given to hyperbole. We ordered two different renditions of the fish and both were perfect. I have not ordered any other dishes here, so I cannot speak for the taste or authenticity of them, but our meal was wonderful, the service was attentive, and the ambiance was beautiful. We will make a special trip to return.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • enjoyed my meal there
    AncientOneVIP
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    My brother recommended this place, and while perhaps my expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised by decent food and good presentation. Only downside is that it is on the far edge of Old Town.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Mmmmm Mole!
    sbfoodieVIP
    Dined on 7/25/2014
    We started with house Margaritas and cactus salad, which were excellent, then also had the Don Julio mole... it was dreamy! The best mole ever; perfected. The only drawback here is the place feels a bit dusty and unpolished, but the great food and excellent service will keep us coming back. A find in Old Town!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • food bland but drinks are great
    babajv
    Dined on 7/15/2014
    My date and I picked this place for Tequila and Taco Tuesday. We ordered the house Tequila which was amazing and in good quantity. We also ordered two appetizers each. My date is Mexican and was not impressed by the food. I was not either. It tasted bland and was nothing special. Given the quality of the appetizer we decided to forego the dinner. However, the selection of Tequila is great and would be a good place to get toasty. If you are looking to get food only, look elsewhere. Ended up paying about 120$ for 4 shots and two appetizers (includes tip and tax).
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Wonderful Neighborhood Gem
    Homesara
    Dined on 7/13/2014
    If you love Mexican gourmet, this place will not disappoint. It's fabulous and the food is beautifully prepared. Can't wait to go back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • My favorite Mexican
    MarkVIP
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    Whenever I am in San Diego I never miss El Agave. Truly great traditional Mexican. Not the usual tacos and Buriitos. They specialize in Moles and they do a great job. Over the years I have had them all, but my favorite is the Coloradito. How can you go wrong in a place that has over 2000 bottles of tequila. If you order anything but a Margarita you're doing yourself a dis-service. Great place for a business dinner as well. Bring your appetite.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Beautiful Decor
    Star1345Li
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    The Agave is a quiet and classy place to enjoy gourmet Mexican Cuisine, just steps away from Old Town San Diego.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • BigeaterVIP
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    Food was great, but felt everything was over priced.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • The Filet Mignon & Chicken Burrito
    FanoftheLadyBird
    Dined on 6/29/2014
    As a Texan, I've eaten a LOT of good Mexican food. The Filet Mignon & Chicken Burrito was perhaps the best Mexican dish I've ever eaten. The filet and the chicken had both been marinated and were tender, juicy, and delicious. Served in a tomato flour tortilla, the burrito made me smile with every bite.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Terrible Service
    TLC84
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    The food and ambiance was wonderful, however, the service from everyone was absolutely terrible. Our server was often looking at other tables when he was suppose to be serving us, and at times, he was no where in sight. Moreover, he was disingenuous and had no concern for our table.
    Special Features:
    romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Excellent Mexican Cuisine
    Foodlover
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    El Agave is an exceptional restaurant specializing in a sophisticated, imaginative Mexican cuisine.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Great traditional Mexican place
    nembiteVIP
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    we both had mole selections with chicken and they were both very good. Super great tequila selection. Ambiance was great--felt like we were in Mexico. Really excellent gem of a place.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A San Diego Gem
    benhere
    Dined on 6/9/2014
    Had relatives in town from Washington state. Wanted to take them to a restaurant that served fine regional Mexican dishes, not the standard taco enchilada combo plates. Excellent selection of different dishes and mole sauces, seafood, etc. If you want the standard Mexican fare in San Diego, there are plenty of those restaurants (and a number of them are good), but if you want something special then there is El Agave. I rated the noise level as high, but there was a big party that sat just after us (20+), otherwise it would have not been as loud.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • NotAFoodie
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    Not your typical Mexican Restaurant fare. Definitely worth a visit to try the cactus salad and a variety of Tequilas.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Tequila Utopia
    GorbyVIP
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    Great traditional Mexican food with an outstanding tequila menu. The tables are surrounded by the Tequila Museum that was outstanding. As a tequila aficionado I thought it was heaven. Spent 20 minutes going through all the tequila displays. Loved the tacos and the margaritas were perfect. If you are in Old Town you couldn't go wrong with El Agave.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Very tasty Mexican food
    ThomVIP
    Dined on 6/3/2014
    I'm not an expert on Mexican food, but we liked this food a lot. Unusual preparation of standard Mex favorites. We overate because it was so good. Lunch time before summer tourists was not crowded. Very limited wine choices but all kinds of tequila and some standard beer favorites.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Bill McCurine
    Satisfied
    Dined on 6/1/2014
    One of the best seafood dishes I've ever had. Very charming atmosphere with a noise level low enough that conversation was very easy. Their were 4 in our party. 3 of us loved what we chose; our daughter was lukewarm about her dinner. But all of us want to return,--and will.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Food outstanding.fire the bartender
    EllieVIP
    Dined on 5/24/2014
    Our food was excellent, they use such lovely ingredients. Service at the table was impeccable. We just had the worst experience waiting at the bar.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Very good, but...
    JMS1VIP
    Dined on 5/19/2014
    Enjoyed the unique atmosphere. It's pricey, even if it's an upscale approach to Mexican food. Lots of moles and seafood choices. If you want traditional Mexican, and reasonable prices, this is not the place. But for something unique, it was a good choice. When I made the reservation, I indicated that it was for a birthday, but nothing was done to acknowledge that. Very disappointing.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The place for mole
    Happytoeat
    Dined on 5/16/2014
    Go to El Agave for mole. This place is more a true Mexican restaurant vs. the quick American Mexican around Old Town. The service pace is more of a traditional Mexican too. You will find it relaxed and attentive but it is not the best selection if you are in a rush. It is about 20% more expensive than the other places in Old Town but more than worth it. My one complaint was even though we had a reservation the hostess sat us in a less desirable location. When I complained to the manager he moved us with the stipulation that we needed to be out within two hours for the next reservation. That was not a problem.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A mother's day evening
    3latinmothers
    Dined on 5/11/2014
    I found the food much less refined than in the past. It was very salty and not as subtle as in previous years. Service was excellent, but I am really sorry that the food quality simply was not there. 3 moles, the meat was tough and overcooked, the saltiness overwhelming. The creme caramel was overcooked and curdled. It was a very pleasant evening, but I do not think I will return unless the food quality is better. Where did that authentic Mexican fine cuisine go? The marguerita was excellent but that is not enough to have me return.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Authentic Mexican food
    Inkdbakr
    Dined on 5/11/2014
    Amazing authentic mexican food set on the edge of old town San Diego. Superb cream of cilantro soup!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, special occasion, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fabulous Food, Attentive Service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 5/10/2014
    Love El Agave -- so many wonderful options on the menu it's always so hard to choose. The moles are fabulous, featuring delightful mixes of chillis and spices.
    Special Features:
    romantic, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Awesome food
    lajollasun
    Dined on 5/5/2014
    This is always on the list when trying to decide on a great place to eat.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful Food
    LeslieVIP
    Dined on 5/2/2014
    You must try the margaritas and cream of cilantro soup. The servers and the food were exceptional. The host was less than average. I made reservations on Open Table, however when I checked in she couldn't find the reservation or the other three members of our party who she had already seated inside. The restaurant wasn't busy, so there was no excuse. It took 45 minutes for my party to meet up and share our meal together.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Scenic View
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 33 ratings-only reviews submitted since May 3, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.1
    • Food4.3
    • Ambiance4.1
    • Service4.1
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 402 reviews are from the El Agave reviews archive.
  • Authentic Mexican cuisine
    Lainch
    Dined on 5/1/2014
    Can't believe we've been going to Old Town off and on for the 10 years we've lived here and had never eaten at El Agave. It's just on the edge of Old Town, on the second floor (with a rather untidy liquor store below) of an adobe building with a weather beaten outdoor staircase (which could use a bit of a scrubbing!). The indoor and outdoor dining rooms are very nice, if a tiny bit crowded table-wise. The outdoor covered patio, at sunset, was spectacular, although a bit bright (window shades took care of some of the direct sunlight). The menu is impressive - with a whole page dedicated to variety of moles. We'd never seen anything like this before. There was almost literally nothing on the menu that was not mouth-watering. Loved it!
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Scenic View, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 4/30/2014
    Not so impressive, the table was wobbling and cause of spieling the drinks on us and nobody cared and we had to change our table three times and the restaurant was so hot and unconformable, so over all it was not a pleasant dining for us!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointing
    kisfanVIP
    Dined on 4/22/2014
    We were very disappointed in the food and especially the margaritas which, for a restaurant that has tequila in their name, is inexcusable. The margaritas were terrible. Little to no vegetarian options...the suggestion to put one of their sauces over vegetables (which that evening were asparagus, pumpkin and carrots) was not a very appetizing one. Will try a more traditional Mexican restaurant next time.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Has Potential
    QCommVIP
    Dined on 4/14/2014
    The manager / owner here walks around, but doesn't take notice of shortcomings. He walked by us..looked at our table, noticed we need water refilled, but did nothing about it. Bus staff, hangs around chit cutting, but not on the floor observing patrons and addressing their needs. This is amateur hour… Is this someone's hobby, or a serious business concern. Some menu items are quite good. Needs policy.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Old Town Find
    JandY
    Dined on 4/11/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, scenic view, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Expensive! No tacos or burritos!!
    DanaO
    Dined on 4/10/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • best restaurant in old town
    clarepurpl
    Dined on 4/4/2014
    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!!!
    Special Features:
    romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Mexican Food
    TUTZ103VIP
    Dined on 3/31/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic