Omnivore - Agave: still booming

Maybe the best Southwestern food in town


Six of us dined at Agave last Friday. It was my first meal there in maybe a year. The Cabbagetown spot is near our home in Grant Park and it appears to be crowded just about every night. The appeal is the Southwestern food and a tequila bar that is among the city’s best. Owner-chef Jack Sobel opened Agave 12 years ago. It’s hard to believe it’s been open so long.

My longtime favorite starter of Hatch Green Chile stew was as good as ever. It blends the famous chiles with tenderloin beef tips, potatoes, onions, and corn. It’s a perfect winter dish hearty, with a very slight sting. The posole soup is also a good choice. It’s better than most you find on Buford Highway.

Another starter on the table was a super-fresh ceviche of chopped gulf shrimp and sashimi tuna marinated in lime, oil, serranos, and cider vinegar. It’s served in a martini glass.

For my entree, I chose chile-seared scallops over grits spiked with tomatoes and serranos. They came with two sides of mac and cheese and collards with honey-cider and smoked bacon. It’s a great take on shrimp and grits with Southern sides.

Other entrees we ordered included the restaurant’s flawless fried chicken breast, chicken enchiladas, and braised short ribs marinated in ancho chiles and honey. Most all of the entrees here feature slightly hot and slightly sweet flavors. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your dining companions whining to the server, “Is it spiiiiicy?”

One complaint: The place is deafening. We couldn’t even hear one another most of the time. I’m sure a few shots of tequila makes screaming comfortable. Well, that was certainly true of the party of 12 or so seated beside us.