A feast for the senses, too, at Mexican bistro
Agave Mexican Bistro
111 State St.
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Saturday,. 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Major credit cards accepted
Accessible to the handicapped
Agave Mexican Bistro is yummy, and we don't just mean the food. The atmosphere, with its warm caramel, chocolate, and flan colors, waterfall bar, curved booths, spectacular artwork, and touches of brick walls and wooden floors, is a fiesta for the eyes.
We loved our experience there: atmosphere, drinks, and food.
We began our meal on the second floor with a great view of State Street's charming shops, not to mention a draft Smuttynose lager ($4) and a frozen margarita ($8): a large, perfectly mixed cocktail.
Our drinks were the perfect accompaniment to the homemade, delightfully salty tortilla chips and salsa that were immediately brought to our table. But even though we polished those off in a hurry, we were excited to try one of Agave's creative appetizer selections, which included ceviche acapulqueno (market priced); halibut marinated in lemon juice, chilies, cilantro, onion, and tomatoes; shrimp quesadillas ($11); and our choice, cocktail de marisco ($11.75). The arrangement of baby shrimp and sweet little scallops marinated with tomato, lime juice, fresh cilantro, and Serrano chilies served with sliced avocados and crackers was a fresh beginning to our meal.
We'd make a trip to the seacoast just for this appetizer and a few drinks on a Thursday or Sunday - live Latin music nights - but fortunately, we also ate a meal on our visit.
For entrees, one of us ordered the grilled shrimp fajitas served with mixed green and fruit salad ($15.50). As were all our dishes, the presentation of this entree was exquisite: a large white plate with a fan of warm flour tortillas, red and orange peppers and onions, and large, salmon-colored prawns with fresh greens, mango, and peach with a honey, lime, and cilantro dressing. The food tasted as good - if not better - than it looked. Great Mexican food depends on fresh ingredients, and none of these could be fresher or tastier.
Another in our party was considering Agave's mole poblano ($16.50), but our server recommended the carne asada burrito ($16) as her favorite dish. It's now one of ours as well. The huge rectangle was stuffed with perfectly seasoned, grilled carne asada steak slices, refried beans, melted Chihuahua cheese, lettuce, and tomato topped with a drizzle of sour cream and a choice of red (roja) or green (verde) salsa. We picked verde, one of our favorite things about Mexican food. A tomitilla beats a red tomato any day of the week in the salsa world.
The dish was served with a flavorful Mexican rice that tasted like it was made with saffron - a nice surprise - and refried beans that were a little redundant considering our burrito had plenty of refried beans inside.
We ended our meal with coffee (some of the best brewed decaf we've had in a restaurant) and dessert. Agave offers three after-dinner sweets: the traditional flan ($6), plantains de Patron - tortilla-wrapped bananas that are deep fried and served with a caramel sauce ($7.25); and our pick, churros ($6).
Agave's flair for taking the traditional and cranking it up a few notches held true with this dessert: three cylindrical "doughnuts" on a plate of fresh vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of chocolate and caramel sauces. It was fantastic and definitely enough for two or even three people to share.