Agave y Aguacate (Baldwin Village)
Agave y Aguacate is the latest street food stall from Kensington Market's El Gordo Food Court to become a fashionable permanent eatery (others include Rock Lobster and Seven Lives ). The concept from chef Francisco Alejandri has already attracted a strong following that even includes TV travel and food guru, Anthony Bourdain .
Now reopened at a new site in Baldwin Village, the restaurant interior is a mix of gritty and glam. Co-owner Keyvan and brother, Mehran Foroughi pair street art with historic Mexican motifs: industrial aesthetics with romantic flourishes. Of note; there's a two-story graffiti'd Madonna, industrial furnishings, gilded ceilings and lights diffused through crystal decanters.
Seating upstairs in the dining room is provided by French hammerhead stools customized with black upholstery and a gold powder-coat finish; downstairs in the narrow bar, a plush banquette lines one wall and built-in table tops make the most of the compact space.
The opening menu from Alejandri is a contemporary take on regional Mexican cuisine but there's not a taco in sight. Suited to its winter debut there's Sopa Tarasca ($7, lead photo), a pinto bean and tomato purée flavoured with pungent ancho chili and topped with crema and fried tortillas. Even better, the earthy soup is studded with smoky peppers and chunks of queso panela for melt-in-the-mouth richness.
Served over tomato sauce, the Chile Poblano Relleno ($8) is a blistered poblano pepper stuffed with creamy guacamole, escabeche (pickled veggies), and juicy pops of pineapple and gooseberries.
Up next, there's a cold Coctel de Camarones ($12) featuring poached tiger shrimp dressed in sweet salsa with chunks of crunchy cucumber, red onions, avocado and fresh coriander. Imported Saladita crackers (saltines) are served on the side.
The bar menu majors in tequila and mezcal cocktails like a Paloma ($12) mixed with Tromba and Steigl Grapefruit Radler, or, the Mezcal Negroni ($12) mixed with Campari, sweet vermouth and orange rind garnish. There're beers by the bottle, mainly Mexican imports plus Creemore, Guinness and Becks.
Agave y Aguacate opened last week for a preview, and will reopen permanently on January 7th. A patio out front can be expected in warmer months.
Photos by Jesse Milns