Picture a petite bistro in Manhattan or in a sparkling casino in Las Vegas. Now add Lewes to the equation, and you’ve got Agave Restaurant with its moderately priced cuisine, creative and unquestionably Mexican fare.
Most of the drinks involve Agave’s huge selection of tequilas (over 70 varieties). One of the favorite drinks at our table is the Tequila Sunset, a multicolored blend of juices and spirits. The margaritas come in three sizes. Bring a designated driver (or an ambulance) if you plan to experiment with the extra large.
The Super Nachos are built around homemade chips and presented in a colorful metal serving tray with a combination of black beans, creamy white queso fresca, smoky salsa, cool sour cream and warm roasted peppers. The guacamole appetizer is served in a large molcajete, a traditional Mexican salsa bowl. No food processors here: It was fresh and obviously handmade with chunks of fresh avocado throughout. Several members of our party had the Chicken Tortilla soup, rich with spices and white-meat chicken, particularly appetizing in a striking pottery bowl.
The Cobb Salad Quesadilla entrée is infused with tidbits of corn, beans and crunchy vegetables. If you like Chicken Mole, definitely try it here. A dark, rich and not-too-thick Mole sauce is a hard thing to get right (see some of my other reviews), but Agave nailed it. At this point I have to pay tribute to their jalapeno/cheese cornbread. Just hope it is still on the menu! This is one of my own signature dishes when I entertain at home, so I was poised to criticize. It came very close to the moist and creamy mouth-feel of the real thing (mine, of course).
Leisa Berlin (owner Chris McKeown’s mother) was the opening chef at Agave, but is now ensconced at her very own Edie Bee’s Confection Shop a few doors away. Her daughter, Sarah, owns and operates Nourish in the space behind Edie Bee’s where Second St. Grill used to be. On our very first visit many years ago, Leisa sent out a taste of her Ginger Cilantro Garlic Corn. I’ll spare you the gastronomic superlative. If it is still on the menu as of this writing (cross your fingers), order it. You’ll not be disappointed.
Nothing can ruin a reviewers credibility faster than complimenting everything. Nobodys perfect. In particular, the layout of Agave makes for lots of reflected sound, so the place is much noisier than it needs to be. There are things that can be done about that. Another ongoing problem is when things get busy (and they do!), servers rapidly find themselves “in the weeds” (a design-induced service-bar traffic jam exacerbates this problem). It’s important that you make it clear to your server what you want as an app and what you want as the mains. Otherwise, everything could come out at once.
Agave Restaurant and Bar1/4 They have great guac2/4 The nachos3/4 Agave Restaurant and Bar4/4
That being said, owner Chris McKeown has skillfully married a well-stocked tequila bar with a lively Mexican menu. Design touches such as their cleverly shuttered wall murals, the understated flat-screen TV glowing from behind a half-silvered mirror, and the streamlined bar all add up to a great, tequila-soaked time. So be sure to eat!
They don’t take reservations, but the wait will be worth it (pass the time with a pomegranate margarita). If you just MUST be seated immediately because you are very, very important, then get there early. Like 4:30. A couple of years ago Agave expanded into the neighboring space (where Rocky Mountain Chocolate used to be), but they didn’t really expand the seating. They made a store out of it. It just seems to me that a better use of those square feet would have been tables that most certainly would have filled. But it’s not my restaurant; just sayin’….
They are located at 137 Second Street in Lewes and can be reached at 302-645-1232. It’s hard to believe, but Agave has no website! I tried to link you to one of those menu sites, but the menu there was waaayyy outdated. Sorry. You can see their Facebook page, but it’s pretty lackluster. I suggest putting down that mouse and just going and having a good time.
(L. (limited–call), D., Bar) Price Range: Moderate .