Agave Sneak Preview

Naples newest dining splash

Just back from a media tasting at Agave Southwestern Grill, which celebrates its grand opening tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 16) in North Naples at 2390 Vanderbilt Beach Rd.

With the tagline “Tequila Inspired. Real Wood Fired,” it puts a new, fresh spin on Tex-Mex with broad appeal and new interpretations.

Notice the ceviche station (be still my heart!) at the entrance. This nod to Peruvian cuisine demonstrates the restaurant’s breadth with four different varieties.  I recommend the vieiras y snapper tostone – a mashed plantain patty topped with marinated scallop and snapper, roasted corn relish, and a pickled red onion ring – layer upon layer of flavor.

Some guacamole, pardner?

Guac is made tableside – not especially a new concept, but I did unexpectedly love the bacon option.

We also tasted black bean soup with cumin crema and tomato-onion relish, brisket sliders with coffee-infused barbecue sauce and jicama slaw, rock shrimp quesadillas with tomatillo-jalapeno salsa, and four big-finish desserts. My sweet pick? Chocolate chile bread pudding – a

Chocolate chile bread pudding.

creamy confection of sweet bread, chocolate custard, cinnamon, and bourbon sauce with a tiny tingly backburn of chile pepper.

What I will try when I return (which I will!): grouper en escabeche (which traditionally means lightly pickled), prickly pear cactus and grilled mango salad, something/anything mole, and bacon-wrapped bison striploin with smoked jalapeno-cheddar mashed potatoes.

Tower o' Tequila

Oh and about that tequila inspiration, let me just tell you two things: 308 types of tequilas and mescals, and try the strawberry basil margarita.

239-598-3473, agavenaples.com

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