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El Agave
El Agave

El Agave Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.elagave.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
  • "Food was great, but felt everything was over priced."
    Dined on 7/3/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/29/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "El Agave is an exceptional restaurant specializing in a sophisticated, imaginative Mexican cuisine."
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "Not your typical Mexican Restaurant fare. Definitely worth a visit to try the cactus salad and a variety of Tequilas."
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/9/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/3/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/1/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 5/24/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 5/19/2014
  • "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. "
    Dined on 5/16/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 5/11/2014
  • "Amazing authentic mexican food set on the edge of old town San Diego. Superb cream of cilantro soup! "
    Dined on 5/11/2014
  • "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. "
    Dined on 5/10/2014
  • "This is always on the list when trying to decide on a great place to eat. "
    Dined on 5/5/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 5/2/2014
  • "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!"
    Dined on 5/1/2014
  • "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!"
    Dined on 4/30/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 4/14/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 4/22/2014
  • "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."
    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