Blue Agave-Vero Beach-2.25-Stars
"As Americans, we tend to look at Mexican food as nachos, which is not Mexican food really - they don't eat them." -- Anthony Bourdain
With several of my new favorite places to dine, when the city of Vero Beach pops up as my next destination to review an eatery, my taste buds go into overdrive and it's all I can do to maintain the speed limit on the way down the coast. Approaching Historic Downtown Vero Beach I was again taken in by the "main street of yesteryear" feel inspired by the well kept, tree-lined streets and quaint shops, boutiques and restaurants that line both sides of said streets. Sharing parking space with a beauty salon and a sporting goods store as well as the rest of the area, it was hard to judge how popular Blue Agave was with the locals and so with open mind and taste buds at the ready, I entered the sand yellow (maybe?) colored building and went to work.
My first thought was that I mistakenly walked on to a movie set as my server, Jimena, was obviously straight out of central casting and here for the part of the Aztec Goddess. She defined grace, charm, and eloquence and reminded me of Buddy Rich at the wrong gig...way out of place. Trying not to gawk at her natural beauty, I placed an order for a fish taco (Mahi), a pork belly taco as well as sides of slaw, yucca fries and pickled vegetables. Noting the "full" bar I also asked for a 12-year-old single malt and was sadly informed the only Scotch they stocked was Johnny Walker Black. Not that that is a bad blend, it's just not a single malt nor is it indicative of having a full bar. However, I would be doing them a disservice if I didn't mention the "craft" margaritas they offer as they certainly seemed interesting.
I know it's cliche and it might even be sexist these days (honestly, I can't keep up with the changing winds in today's world, so please forgive me if I overstep my bounds) but, I couldn't help but think to myself, "What the hell is a girl like that doing in a place like this?" as Jimena graciously approached with my order. Asking me if I needed anything else, she adroitly turned and professionally went about her job duties. Enjoying the aromas drifting up from my plates, I grabbed the fish taco and commenced to reviewin'.
The tortillas were authentic corn tortillas and had the texture, smell and taste of perhaps being made on site? I failed to ask and as it wasn't mentioned in the menu, maybe not. Either way, they were the real deal and delicious. The Mahi they enveloped, however, was not. It was previously frozen, low-grade fish that made me sad. The saving grace here, other than the wraps was the slaw. It was well seasoned and popped on my tongue with delicious flavor.
The Pork Belly taco (carnitas) were also snuggled lovingly inside the same real corn tortillas as their menu mate the Mahi, however, they too were sad. The meat was a tad on the dry side telling me it was slightly over cooked. Pork does not need to be pale white and dry in order to be safe for consumption people (see updated USDA recommendations for meat temps). The side of yucca (Cassava) fries were not made in house and disappointingly were the fried from frozen kind. The pickled vegetables, on the other hand, were fresh with exceedingly scrumptious pickling spices and as the slaw above, swooped in with a late pick 6 and saved this plate.
The rating reflects the fresh tasting corn tortillas, the delicious slaw and the delectable pickled veggies, however, the rest of the items were "meh" at best. What this place needs are ingredients and execution that reflects the awesomeness that is Jimena. As it is, the food is way out of its league, so to speak, with an Aztec Queen walking it from the kitchen. They need to seriously up their quality of food and preparation if they want to justify this relationship. As it is, they are lucky she hasn't broken it off.
The Big Boy says, "For Star-like service, delicious corn tortillas, out of this world slaw and addictive pickled veggies, this is the place. For top-notch, authentic Mexican food, this place is the pits." #iamthebigboy #bigboydiningout