Restaurants in The InTowner
The InTowner
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Restaurant Review ~ Sweet Agave / 5105 MacArthur Blvd., NW

Named after a Western/South American/Mexican succulent plant with spiny leaves, DC’s Sweet Agave Bar & Grill echoes the native plant’s Western and Latino roots but with a definitive Tex-Mex flavor. And maybe the restaurant’s bartender uses the sweetish juice extracted from the plant’s leaves, a juice known to people switching sweeteners from sugar to blue agave juice. (Note: the restaurant offers margaritas and palomas cocktails at good rates Monday nights and Coronas and Modelos beers at half-price Thursday nights.)

photo–Alexandra Greeley.

Whatever the owner’s intentions, Sweet Agave is one dynamite eatery. If it were only a few blocks or so away, it would be a weekly go-to place for residents not in the Palisades; the food is that good and so is the service. Its overwhelming interior impact is vibrant Tex-Mex with loads of colorful décor, from sombreros and serapes to bright colors, Tex-Mex music, and an inviting atmosphere.

The regular menu offers an assortment of ever-so popular Tex-Mex/Cal-Mex/Mexican must-haves, such as a smoothly blended guacamole with a few small chunks of minced onion for a slightly extra kick. Served with a plate of hot chips, it can easily serve one, but for a party of two or more, folks need to order a second serving — take the leftovers home!

Other appetizers include quesadillas, taquitos, wings (with Buffalo hot sauce, making this ultra-California), queso con carne, plantains, and fried yuca. The last is definitely not a standard offering on most Mexican restaurant eateries because it is really more a Latino offering. Regardless, crunchy yuca is delish, and with a Mexican shrug of your shoulders, just order some.

On to the main menu, offered at both lunch and dinner times (brunch has a much shorter menu). Patrons can go “whole hog” — that is, get one of the special platters of tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, or chimichangas. There is even a “mole ranchero” featuring the distinctive mole poblano sauce which is definitely a Mexican favorite.

photo–Alexandra Greeley.

But if anyone is a fan of burritos, theirs come with a choice of fillings, from chicken, ground beef, steak, shrimp, or carnitas pork. The last means the carefully cut-up pork meat has a gently seasoned flavor, and comes wrapped in a super-large flour tortilla that is in a pool of sauce and surrounded with a cup of beans, a scoop of rice, and a sprinkling of salad greens. It is really large, and could serve two people.

Whatever the mealtime choice, be sure to save some extra-special room for their tres leches cake. Any traditional recipe is made with a cake soaked in milk and heavy cream, and this version is no different. The portion is large, topped and sided with squirts of whipped cream and with ribbons of raspberry or strawberry liquid. This calorie-dense dish is worth driving long distances for a slice — it is that good.

Sweet Agave Bar & Grill / Hours: Mon., 4-10pm; Tue.-Sat., 11:30am-10pm; Sun., 11:30am-9pm (202) 363-4041.

Copyright © 2019 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Alexandra Greeley. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without per-mission is prohibited, except as provided by 17 U.S.C. §107 “fair use”)

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong