It's been a long time coming for new Tex-Mex cantina Agave Maria, but it's finally going to happen. Last night I had the chance to preview some of the food and cocktails before the new downtown Memphis restaurant opens in the next week or two.
Here's what happened.
Agave Maria is located in the former Papa Pia's location on Union, near Parking Can Be Fun. There are two rooms inside; one has a small bar area with some very snazzy pink barstools and a couple of booths and tables. The other room is a dining room with spacious booths and several tables.
They'll serve craft cocktails, tons of top shelf tequila, and sangria and margaritas on tap – I gave the margaritas two thumbs up:
Some more of the decor:
Here's a sampling of some of the menu items:
We started out with the salsa and chips, which comes with three salsas served warm, and the guacamole. I prefer the Las Delicias style of chunky, made-to-order guac. As it stands now, I'd stick to the other appetizers (chorizo fundido, fresh, tasty tuna flatbread pictured below, and the ceviche, which isn't pictured but was quite good) over the guac; however, I'll certainly give it another try after Agave Maria opens for real.
This black bean soup got rave reviews from those sitting with me. It'll be perfect when it's not 100 degrees outside:
Agave Maria serves a couple different kinds of tacos. While the fillings and toppings (I tried the pork and the short rib) were delicious, I wasn't crazy about these particular corn tortillas. May just be a personal preference. Again, soft opening, so I'm keeping an open mind.
After apps and tacos, I tried a couple of the bigger entrees. This is where things got really good, and what I imagine Agave Maria will come to be known for. First up, the poblano and goat chese enchilada: vegetarian friendly and probably one of the cheesiest, richest, most satisfying things I've eaten in a while:
The short rib enchildadas were my favorite thing I tried. I liked that there was a decent pile of veggies on top of the sizzling savory, cheesy, meaty pile.
I barely had room, but had to try a few bites of the tamales. Yummy.
I heard something about key lime pie for dessert, but I was far too stuffed after sampling everything else.
Keep in mind that this was just a soft opening, which allows restaurants to work out the kinks, finalize menus, prices, hours, and other essential info. But I wanted to give you a preview of what's coming soon to downtown Memphis and share a few thoughts. I'll be sure to update this post with hours and other info as soon as it's open to the public.
One final observation: Agave Maria's location on Union has been vacant for quite a while, and seeing the place lit up and full of people was pretty cool. I'm looking forward to a Mexican option downtown, and I know a lot of others who work and hang out downtown are, too. Here's hoping there are some awesome lunch specials.