Salsa and Agave Mexican Grill

by Ed Lau on January 11, 2010

I had passed by this little Mexican place every so often when I’m downtown but never really thought much of it until Kevin (604foodtography) mentioned it. After we visited La Taqueria last month, I was curious to see how the other more authentic Mexican places in town stacked up. Unfortunately, my efforts were thwarted several times before I finally got to try Salsa and Agave. Once I went on a Monday (they are not open on Monday…) and twice there was just a huge lineup and there’s nothing in the world I hate more than lining up…for anything. Therefore, I went back on a day when I was hoping the pouring rain would deter most people from dining out.

Salsa and Agave is a rather small restaurant with five or six tables, seating for a dozen or so people. There’s a patio as well with a couple more tables but Vancouver winters prevent most from eating outside. The waitress was friendly, dropping off a menu along with some complementary tortilla chips and salsa and explaining what the menu meant by “imported soda” and “fresh fruit water”.

The free snack that you get when you sit down is actually quite nice. It’s not the onion and tomato laden stuff you expect at Super Bowl parties. It actually is rather liquidy but has some heat to it and I noticed that there were what appeared to be strands of meat suspended in it. A very nice flavor and good to nibble on while deciding on what to get off the extensive menu.

Although there were a lot of interesting options on the menu, I couldn’t resist the four taco platter since I saw one of my favorite meats listed: beef tongue. After a lengthy listing of available drinks, I also ordered a guava soda.

From left to right, the tacos here are Rajas con Crema (peppers, sour cream and corn), Lengua (beef tongue), Carne Asada (grilled beef) and Pastor (pork in a red spice sauce). As you can see, Salsa and Agave are quite generous with the taco fillings so I employed a trick that Kevin suggested since all the tacos came with two shells each and split the filling into two tacos.

This allowed me to taste the fillings by themselves and then again mixed with some cilantro, diced onions and a squirt of lime. You also get a dish of this chili sauce, which has some considerable heat. I overdid it a little on one of my last taco and my mouth was tingling for quite a while.

As a meatatarian, I usually steer clear of anything that only has vegetables in it. Don’t get me wrong…I like veggies too but you’ll never convince me to eat only veggies. However, the Rajas con Crema comes with some high praise so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did because it is delicious. The pepper strips have some surprising substance and the sour cream and cheese blend together well for an explosion of flavor.

The Lengua was as I thought it would be. The beef tongue was amazingly tender. It barely needed to be chewed it was so soft and delcious. With some lime juice and onions, it was even better.

The grilled beef was actually rather disappointing. When I went to split the shells, the juices had soaked through and they wouldn’t separate. Despite this, the meat was surprisingly dry and bland which prompted me to douse it in the chili sauce along with whatever remained of the salsa that came with my free chips. The pork in red sauce was quite nice with a spicy flavor but didn’t impress me as much as the Rajas con Crema or the beef tongue.

I had this pink bottle of guava soda with my meal. Guava isn’t for everyone but other than mango, guava is probably my favorite juice. I love that thick, pulpy texture and tropical flavor. This soda, however, didn’t have any of that and didn’t taste like any sort of guava I’d ever had. It was just a sugary tasting soda as far as I was concerned. I wouldn’t get it again but luckily, Salsa and Agave has a lot more drinks to try for next time.

How does it compare to La Taqueria? Well, apart from the disappointing grilled beef, I liked each one of my tacos and surprisingly, the vegetarian one equaled the beef tongue for me. The fillings were quite a bit more substantial than La Taqueria but I think I enjoyed the flavors at La Taqueria more. Salsa and Agave is also a bit cheaper as four tacos will only set you back $8.50 ($2.25 for my soda). To be honest, you really can’t go wrong either way and with another authentic Mexican restaurant in the Vancouver area, you have no excuses to be going to Taco Bell!

Salsa & Agave Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

in Food and Fine Dining

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Wood burning stoves January 12, 2010 at 8:56 am

This is what I call heaven! I LOVE mexican food but there’s only one place to eat at a mexican restaurant where I live. I’ve been there once but had to book weeks in advance. Like Salsa and Agave this place is pretty small but is always fully booked and gets rave reviews. Love it.

James

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Voyage Montreal January 14, 2010 at 4:27 pm

The beef tongue looks delicious. Mexican food is really good, but the only thing they miss out on is, SPICE! I like Chinese food because of the spice they add.

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Indiansafaries January 16, 2010 at 11:44 am

Dude i want to ask that you use them to eat for every day
these are looking very delicious

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automotive January 19, 2010 at 2:55 am

Mexican food is really good, but the only thing they miss out on is, SPICE!

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Michael Kwan January 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm

That looks really good. Another good place is on Victoria and 35th-ish. Great tacos.

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seattle seo services November 23, 2012 at 3:40 am

Mexican food is really good, but the only thing they miss out on is, SPICE!i am a lover of mexican food but there’s only one place to eat at a mexican restaurant where I live. I’ve been there once but had to book weeks in advance.

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