Dining Out: Tres Agaves

“This is better than Mexican food in Mexico!” This was Conner’s assessment of Tres Agaves. We’d been meaning to make the long drive out to Roseville for a while now. Tres opened way back on Tax Day, April 15, and has since celebrated Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16), and National Tequila Day (July 24, and who even knew there was such a thing?).

This is very upscale Mexican, with entrees ranging into the $20 plus range. But it’s more authentic to what I actually remember from spending time in Mexico City and Cuernavaca, far from the US border, in my early teens. The beans, rice and tortillas all come family style. This might have the effect of making the portions seem smaller, but they actually brought us more when we were packing the leftovers into Tupperware (even Conner’s 13 year-old appetite having been defeated). I loved the red-yellow-blue color scheme. And just like most of Mexico, as I understand, burrito is a non-existent word here (though you can order a Hamburguesa con Queso for $9.95).

We knew we were in for a treat when we started in on the chips and salsa. I’m normally drawn to green salsa, and the salsa verde here was fine. But I soon abandoned it for the red salsa, which had an amazing smoky flavor.

We started with the botana de pepitos ($4.50) a salad consisting of artisanal cucumbers and jicama (those crispy slices with a consistency a lot like apples but much less sweet) in sea salt, lime juice and so much chili powder that we couldn’t eat many in a row, despite a high level of general spice tolerance at the table.

We proceeded to eat family style, splitting four entrees. My favorite was the fish tacos ($14.95), an old standby but taken to a new level, with the fish deeply infused with spices. Another table favorite was the carnitas ($17.95), basically a big hunk of pork slow-marinated in sea salt, chili and lots of oregano. It might have been the most tender pork I have ever had, and definitely the best carnitas I’ve ever tasted.

Also good, but not quite at the same level, was the camerones al mojo de ajo ($22.50), basically Monterrey shrimp in red sauce. It was the right level of spicy, cooked in with lots of onions and cilantro.

If there was a disappointment, it was Tres’ “signature dish,” the carne en su jugo ($16.95), Jaliscan-style beef in a broth of beans and bacon with spices. Apparently this is a regional favorite—there are some restaurants that serve nothing else, according to the staff and Tres. Maybe it just didn’t fit our tastes, but we found ourselves drowning it in lime. I found myself wishing I’d gone for the chicken mole ($16.95), a personal favorite of mine among Mexican cuisine.

Things picked back up at dessert. We split the flan and the chocolate brownie ($6 each). The flan came in a kind of coconut sauce. The brownie was dark chocolate, without a hint of spiciness. But it came in a tangy sauce made of tamarind, along with a scoop of ice cream that was richly spicy, like Mexican hot chocolate. I actually licked the plate. We didn’t celebrate national tequila anything that night, but we still left in a good mood.

Tres Agaves
1182 Roseville Parkway Suite 110
Roseville (other locations in San Francisco and Las Vegas)
Mon- Wed: 11am – 11pm
Thurs- Sat: 11am – 12am
Sun: 10am – 10pm

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