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Agave Bistro - Newburyport, MA

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We had dinner there last night before the concert (The Bobs, if you haven't seen them, they're so worth getting in to see sometime). We were very early (the drive down didn't take nearly as long as I'd expected because the weather was much better than expected). So we were seated by 4:30. One other table was occupied, but it was a nice dining room. Not echo-y and had warm decorations.

The first good sign was my husband had a very hard time narrowing down what he wanted for dinner. :) That doesn't happen often. The brought us homemade tortillas fried up (a little greasy, but warm and tasty) with their salsa. Both were good and a nice little starter. We were offered another basket of chips when we finished it, but declined as it would have been too much for us.

We both decided to go with the combination plate special they were offering. Carnitas, a choice of taco or enchilada (and choice of filling), and a choice of a cup of one of their soups, for $21. The plate also came with their refried beans and rice.

We both got cheese enchiladas, and I chose their mole sauce (on the side) just to see what it was like, and he had their green chili sauce. I got the corn and cheese chowder and he got their chili.

The soups came out promptly and were wonderful. The chowder was a little less thick than I might normally like, but it was delicious. I didn't even mind the sprinkling of cilantro on the top (normally I dislike cilantro, it is usually too much). It had a lovely cheese flavour, and the potatoes and corn in it were perfect, absolutely perfect. My husband really enjoyed his chili, though it didn't seem to have much meat in it. It had a nice slow burn that built up a bit. I thought it might have benefitted from cooking a little longer (or be even better tomorrow) but it was still really good.

Our plates were very big, though that was mostly dominated by the splat of refried beans (topped with chihuahua cheese and broiled to bubbly) and the mound of rice. I liked the beans. They were well-cooked, with a nice, light flavour but seasoned nicely and I didn't feel any need to add salt (no salt or pepper on the tables, btw). They were very smooth, so people looking for some bean chunks in their refried beans would be disappointed by that. I didn't taste the rice because it takes up too much real estate in my stomach and swells up, making it hard for me to finish my meal. The carnitas were tender, moist, and topped with chopped onion, cilantro, and a chopped red chile sauce that was very spicey for my wimpy mouth. But I persevered because they were tasty. They were served with a single corn tortilla that was very perfect, and gave the appearance of having been machine pressed. Whether they do that there in the kitchen I can't comment on. It was servicable and held the carnitas and beans I put in it, which is all I really asked of it.

The mole was pretty good, though I've certainly had better. I was glad I'd asked for it on the side. It probably would have been fine for a chicken enchilada, but it would have completely overpowered my cheese enchilada (stuffed with chihuahua cheese), which was why I asked for it on the side in the first place. :) The chile verde my husband got on his enchilada was also good, though not the best ever. The enchiladas weren't spectacular, but the cheese was good and I was glad I'd ordered it.

The total bill (which included two lemonades and the two specials) was $55. The server was attentive and knowledgeable without being intrusive (something I like a lot), and we didn't have to wait long for anything. If we're in the area again, we will definitely be going back here.

Of course this place doesn't compare to the meals we had at Mi Tierra when we visited San Antonio, but it was a good, solid Mexican meal for New England. I recommend this place to folks in the area who would like good food in a nice atmosphere. Just don't have high expectations for being transported on a wave of chile-induced bliss that convinces you that you're in a family restaurant in Mexico City. :D

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  1. Nice review and will have to try more than cocktails here sometime. Glad you enjoyed the show also.

    1. Oh wow, I'm a Bobs fan from WAY back! Totally cool. Mmm, and now I'm hungry for carnitas... :)

      1. Thanks for this review, I value your opinion and will have to pay another visit to Agave.

        1. hmmmm, this gives me reason to try the food here again after several very disappointing visits about a year ago.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ScubaSteve

            Just repeating my previous caution, don't go in with really high expectations. :) It was decent, not fantastic. :)

            1. re: Morganna

              decent is a Big Step up from our last visits.
              thanks for the warning.

              1. re: ScubaSteve

                Please do report back. :) I'd be interested to compare my experience with others. :)