Thursday, April 4, 2013

Does Blue Agave Reign Supreme in Yorba Linda?

Blue Agave
18601 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Yorba Linda, CA 92886

There is a mini war being waged in my hometown of Yorba Linda. It involves two restaurants that do not even serve the same kind of food, but the battle lines have been drawn. In the, "Land of Gracious Living", you are either a Blue Agave person or you enjoy Esther's Taco House. I can remember watching the KTLA Morning News when Yorba Linda resident and weatherman, Henry DiCarlo asked former Yorba Linda dweller, Audrina Patridge, "Esther's Taco House or Blue Agave?" Her answer was Blue Agave, but Henry said that he was more of an Esther's fan, so the debate rages on.

My family has always been on the side of Audrina. We have always gone to Blue Agave, and basically ignored Esther's. This might be due to the location of Blue Agave, and its closer proximity to our house. My parents have claimed to have eaten at Esther's only one time, years back. They say that they were not fans. I was having lunch with my Mom and Brother-in-law after getting my teeth cleaned, and it took very little convincing to get them to meet me at Blue Agave.

I have not been back to Blue Agave for nearly four years, and have never visited for the blog. Blue Agave has been in business for nearly twenty years now. Since they have opened they have anchored this shopping center that features a fabric store, a Papa John's and the hair place that I used to get my hair cut, back when I had hair to cut. The inside is just the same as I remember it. Bright colors, a bar off of the hostess stand, and two spacious dining rooms. We arrived just after they opened, and were seated right away. During our stay, the lunch rush swelled, so that almost all of the thirty or so tables were filled. We checked out the Southwest inspired menu, ordered, and this is what came out for us.

Of course before we ordered, the Chips and Salsa hit our table. Much like the walls at Blue Agave, the tortilla chips here are bright as well. These chips had a good crunch to them, and were a great vessel for the chunky salsa. I really enjoyed the salsa here. Not too watery, with good chunks of onion included in it. I could have handled more spice, but I definitely ate my fair share of this salsa.

If I had not been so preoccupied with the chips and salsa, I would have been quicker on the draw and snapped some pictures of our server making this guacamole tableside. This Fresh Guacamole Dip ($7.95) was made with two large avocados, cilantro, red onion, spices, and lime. Even with all of these items in this dip, the guacamole was very smooth. We got ours with a little heat, but the coolness of the avocado balanced everything out. This was more than enough for the three of us.

My Mom is not much of a lunch eater, so it was no big shock that she only ordered Tortilla Soup ($5.95) for her meal. This is one of her favorite tortilla soups around. It included vegetables, tortilla strips, and chicken in a clear broth. I tried some of this, and the chicken was tender, but it could have been spiced a little more for my taste. A very mellow soup. Make sure you do not make the same mistake my Mom did when eating here for lunch. One of their lunch specials is this same bowl of soup above, along with their signature Blue Moon Salad for only 55 cents more. I know what my mom is thinking reading this, "I can't eat that much", but I would have definitely helped her with the salad.

One thing I have always remembered about the plates at Blue Agave is that they were always very colorful. This is still the case. Jarrod selected another one of Blue Agave's lunch specials. The West Texas ($6.95) included a chili verde enchilada and taquitos, along with rice and beans. He really liked this plate, and would definitely get it again. It came to the table hot and he enjoyed the combination of flavors on the plate. It had a little bit of everything, from the slightly tangy verde salsa to the savory beans, and the sweet corn cake. Jarrod left here very happy.

Well since everyone else was doing it, I got a lunch special as well. The Carnitas ($8.95) is only a dollar cheaper than at dinner time, but a buck is a buck. These carnitas came wrapped in a banana leaf, and came with pico de gallo, guacamole, cilantro, your choice of tortillas, and beans and rice. These were not as greasy as some of the other carnitas I have had. They were pretty tender, and could stand on their own. I did miss the little crunchy bits that are on some fried carnitas though. With the amount of pork on this plate I was able to make three tacos out of it. The rice and beans were okay here. I like a heavier bean than what was served at Blue Agave. The rice was pretty flavorful and light. The corn cake was a great sweet contrast to the pork.

Blue Agave was good, but it is not going to blow your mind. This is a Southwestern grill, not a Mexican restaurant, so I give them some leeway about lacking the spice that I like so much when having Mexican food. They definitely put a lot of effort into the presentation of their plates. I did think that the prices were really good at lunch for a sit down restaurant. It is pretty rare that you can find a two item combination meal at a restaurant for under seven dollars. The service on this afternoon was pretty solid. Our waitress took good care of us, and made things run smoothly. I have made it my mission to try Esther's Taco House next week, to see if I can declare a winner in this great Yorba Linda taco debate. We can also finally find out if Audrina really does know what she is talking about when it comes to restaurants.

Out of five tequila bottles, (because of course tequila is made from the blue agave plant), five being best to zero being worst, Blue Agave gets 3 tequila bottles.

For more information about Blue Agave, click here:

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  1. OK, you're right, Mike, our family does prefer BA over Esther's but that was based on having poor service at Esther's and bland food, not because of geography.
    But, let's be fair. You and your readers should decide. Anyone out there prefer Esther's?
    Mike's Dad

  2. Anaonymous/Dad - I will be finding out for myself if Esther's is better than Blue Agave whn I have lunch there next week. Looking forward to seeing how it is. Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. Now get back to work.

  3. It was better when it was the panhandler

  4. It was better when it was the panhandler

  5. Unknown - I'm sorry to say that you have me stumped. I don't remember the Panhandler Restaurant. When was it in business, and was it in the same spot as Blue Agave? Thanks for taking the time to read the blog.