Agave, Arrowtown rolls out the Mexicana
the best bars around, Blue Door.
The restaurant is tucked away in a funky Arrowtown alleyway with everything you need for an evening out. There’s fine-dining at Saffron, Mexican dishes and margaritas at Agave, Central Otago wines at Blue Door and a boutique cinema upstairs, Dorothy Brown’s. Inside, Agave is decked out with Mexicana, murals on the wall, low-lighting, party sombreros and a small, open kitchen. Booths are a great idea and it’d be easy to while away an evening over Mexican and drinks tucked snugly away.
Very good. Our waitress explained all the dishes to us, talked us through a wine choice and checked on us regularly. A Central Otago Two Paddocks riesling was a fantastic, dry complement to the meal. We were there early on a Monday evening and for a while we had the place to ourselves. By mid-evening Agave was getting busier with other diners enjoying themselves. They also offer a takeaway service and it’s an added bonus to be able to order drinks from the Blue Door.
Agave offers daily specials, including cocktails and they whip up margaritas on site or staff can deliver a fancier version from the Blue Door.
We nabbed a booth and our waitress explained the specials for the evening, which included pan fried blue cod and stuffed capsicums.
For entrees, we ordered taquitos, fried rolled up tacos, with pulled pork verda ($15.50), spicy chicken tinga ($15) – the name of the spice mix – and Mexican salad known as tostada ($15.50), a tortilla dish with pinto beans, salsa, red onion, chargrilled tomato, guacamole and lettuce.
Pulled pork was tender, succulent and nicely cooked while the chicken tinga had a welcome kick and the salad was a great filler on the side. All of the dishes were mild and we asked for more of a kick in the mains. Maybe it’s a New Zealand restaurant quirk (the reviewer hails from Northern Ireland) but often ‘spicy’ in Queenstown is actually mild or medium hot. It’s not a huge gripe but some of us like a real chilli kick!
For mains we ordered blue cod soft shell tacos ($29.50), in chioptle batter served with lettuce, pineapple, avocado and salsa, and two fajita dishes, sizzling Hereford beef and achiote prawns (each $29.50). Achiote is a naturally occurring dye often used in South American cuisine. The tacos were delicious, with enough kick not to overpower the blue cod, crispy with great texture.
Fajitas arrived straight from the kitchen, sizzling on to our table. We’d asked for more kick in these two dishes but we still had to add more hot sauce.
A lot of restaurants do this – dishes arrive mild and the addition of hot sauce is up to you but cooking with chilli and spice imparts a different flavour than adding sauce. Still, these dishes were very good.
The beef was tender, the guacamole on the side was delicious and the prawns had a zesty flavour, minus their tails so they could be wrapped in tortillas.
Tasty Mexicana in great surroundings. Perfect for an evening out combining a trip to the cinema or a few drinks.
Prawn fajitas, blue cod tacos and beef flank fajitas.