New Mexican place in Fresno - The Agave Grill
This is the first time I've posted on Chowhound, but I've been reading reviews here for a while when I felt like trying a new place.
For the last couple months, I've been watching the Chinese buffet that used to sit at the corner of Shaw and Minnewawa get turned into The Agave Grill.
Finally, it opened, and we decided to go last night. Since it used to be a buffet, the space is huge and open, decor is simple, muted earthtones. As soon as we sat down they took our drink order, and also brought out a basket of warm tortilla chips, a bowl of salsa and a bowl of refried beans and cheese.
The menu is pretty extensive, with a lot of dishes that are either original, or that I've just never heard of. One was the Enchorizada, which was two enchiladas topped with sauce and a bacon and chorizo salsa. I didn't order that, but come on, how can you go wrong with bacon and chorizo as a topping? Maybe next time.
Allison got the combo fajitas, and I got the camarones zarandeado. Both were 14.95. Both meals came with a plate of rice, beans, guacamole, and a small mixed green salad with a surprisingly tasty house dressing. Allisons fajitas also came with a dish of soft warm cheese covered in butter, which I've never seen before. She's got a thing with soft cheeses, so she didn't like it, but I thought it was delicious. :)
Their homemade corn tortillas were soft and thick, much better than you usually get.
I'm not sure if my zarandeado was a traditional preparation, since pictures I've since looked at online look a little drier, but it was very tasty. They were served on a fajita skillet, and they were just covered in a thick, oily, deep red sauce. The spice was perfect, just enough heat to warm your mouth, but didn't leave you burning. The flavor was deep and rich.
One other thing I want to point out: I have never had shrimp cooked so well. Shrimp so often ends up tough and rubbery, and honestly, I didn't realize how tender it could be until we ate here.
The service was exceptionally attentive. The waitstaff all seemed to be family, and regardless of who was walking by, they all checked on you, including someone I assume to be the owner or general manager, and the hostess as well. It felt like you were at their house. Every little extra we asked for (more lemon for the iced tea, side of sour cream) was brought promptly, you never felt like they forgot you.
The only problem I had with the service was a little miscommunication with a drink order. :) I asked what kinds of tequila they had, and from their list, I picked a shot of Don Julio. When we got the bill, the single shot was 20 dollars. I asked the hostess, and she said that the only Don Julio they had at the time was the Don Julio 1942 Anejo, which is that much. She apologized, and said the waitress should have pointed that out, I laughed and said that if I'd known it was a 20 dollar shot I would have savored it a little more carefully. I'm sure they'll fix that with a tequila list or make sure the staff points out the expensive shots in the future.
All in all, we really enjoyed our meal, and we can't wait to go back.
We'll just be a little more careful about drink ordering next time. :)
The Agave Grill
25 Shaw Avenue
Fresno, CA 93726
No problem. When you had zarandeado prepped, what was the presentation like? This was like...shrimp in sauce, and other pictures I've seen online were skewered shrimp that looked like they had a spice rub on them, so they were very different looking.
Also, one thing I forgot to mention in the original post is that they will do whole fish as well, instead of just filets.
The zarandeado we've had at Don Pepe's in Fresno was a thick-ish red chili sauce, fairly spicy, & smooth, served on the shrimp or fish. I've seen some photos of a chunky-style salsa called zarandeado, as well as photos of shrimp with a red sauce that appears to be cooked onto the shrimp.
Based on the number of recipes I see, I would guess that fish/pescado zarandeado is the more common version, with shrimp zarandeado less common. Whether the seafood is served on skewers or simply on the plate seems to vary a lot.
Some sources on the internet (e.g., Rick Bayless's web site) suggests that zarandeado is infused with an Asian influence by the addition of soy sauce, though I've seen some recipes on the internet that have no soy sauce in them.