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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Agave Azul brings authentic taste of Mexico to downtown Nashua

I can’t believe I’ve lived my life this long and have not thought to add the magic ingredient to my guacamole that Agave Azul does. It’s so simple, really; it should have come to me on my own.

Bacon. Oh my goodness, bacon on the guacamole. ...

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I can’t believe I’ve lived my life this long and have not thought to add the magic ingredient to my guacamole that Agave Azul does. It’s so simple, really; it should have come to me on my own.

Bacon. Oh my goodness, bacon on the guacamole.

Just plan on getting it when you check out the new Mexican restaurant that now occupies two storefronts at 96-98 Main St. Josefina, “the guacamole lady,” will wheel over her mise en place cart of ingredients, and ask a few simple questions: “Would you like fresh guacamole?” “Spicy or no spicy?” And of course, the money question, “Bacon?”

Tableside, Josefina then mashes the avocados, adds the diced tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and a squeeze of lime juice to the contents of a traditional Mexican bowl called a molcajete. The glorious bacon is added to the top, and you are presented with your own fresh mound of incredible guac ($8).

Chips and salsa are brought over by your server. This night, we had Erick, who seemed to be a bit overextended, forcing him to hustle around quite a bit. We did have to wait awhile at times when we wanted him. But he was very friendly from the get-go, funny and helpful.

I tried a house margarita ($8.25), which was nothing to write home about. Maybe I just like mine with more accent flavors (I generally tend to order ones with, say, pomegranate or jalapeno in it). My friend Deb and I polished off the guacamole in short order, and then pored over the many pages of menu items. Many dishes offered are not found on other restaurant’s menus.

When I expressed a dilemma in deciding between two particular entrees, I found it interesting when he steered me away from one by saying it was “too sweet.” As a consumer, I appreciated the honesty, but if I was the business owner, I might prefer he stick to a positive redirect by touting the other one’s qualities.

I ended up selecting a Burrito Cachondo ($12.50), a gigantic endeavor filled with shrimp, rice and beans. and served on more rice. It was delicious. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing, but I did.

Deb ordered the Acapulco Bahia ($16.20) – grilled shrimp, scallops, chicken and rice with vegetables and a cheese sauce. She asked Erick to replace the chicken with more seafood, which they did. She also asked for the cheese sauce to be on the side, which it was not. Her house salad came after the meal, but her request for no onions was correctly presented.

She felt the portions were generous, and the seafood was properly cooked.

The restaurant spans a huge space, where long-ago Cameraland used to be, and recently defunct McKenzie’s stood next door. The former bar is still laid out as such, but now sports an incredible Dio de los Muertos mural, courtesy of Positive Street Art artists Manuel Phelany Ramirez and Cecilia Ulibarri. The night I was there, it was filled with young people, watching soccer and listening to live music. The restaurant proper is open and evocatively decorated, with more murals, paintings and cool light fixtures. They also have seating on a fenced-in portion of the sidewalk, and that, too, was packed with revelers, looking like young professionals from downtown. Agave Azul already is positioned to be the place where young movers and shakers are going to convene after work.

You can try to wrangle a parking space on Main Street, or you can go up Temple Street, to Court Street, and park at the upper parking lot behind the restaurant. There’s a bright blue (“azul”) door to lead you down the stairs into the restaurant.

I can’t forget to tell you about dessert. We split the churro cheesecake ($5.50), which was out of this world. Fluffy fried dough, creamy cheesecake center, whipped cream … Delicioso. Agave Azul is open for lunch seven days a week starting at 11 a.m., serving dinner on weekdays until 10 p.m. and on weekends until 1 a.m.

Tell Josefina I sent you. And say yes to bacon.

Kathleen Palmer can be reached at 594-6403 or kpalmer@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow her on Twitter (@Telegraph_KathP or
@NHFoodandFun).