600 N Milpas St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Will be back for more
Yes, it seems like there is a Mexican restaurant around every corner in Santa Barbara, and you’d kind of expect that.
But, if you’re looking for a slam-dunk Mexican restaurant, Los Agaves has proven to the Undercover Fork that it almost stands alone, with a true commitment to blending tastes in a way that makes you not want to go anywhere else.
And, thankfully, Los Agaves has five locations on the South Coast, so you can find one pretty much anywhere you are.
Here is a look at a simple, but fantastic meal:
Alright, so it’s a Mexican basic — but some restaurants really do struggle with getting it right. Not at Los Agaves. The cheese is plentiful, gooey and fresh. The tortillas are perfectly crisp and the portion size is filling. You might think you’ve perfected quesadillas at home, but then you have a Los Agaves quesadilla and realize you haven’t.
If you pick up the burrito, you feel like you are about to eat a brick. It is thick. It is heavy. And yet you’ll eat every, last bite. You can get the mojado — a delicious red sauce — on the side, making it a dipping sauce in case your palette can be a bit sensitive to a little bit of heat. Meanwhile, the steak simply melts in your mouth, while the pinto beans are simply the best in town. Add in a bit of cheese, and you have a masterpiece that will keep you coming back for more.
Yes, frying a tortilla isn’t the best thing for your health — but allow yourself this little vice. It’s worth the extra 15 minutes on the treadmill. While there were many meat options, going with a little uncharge to get steak was well worth it, as Los Agaves’ steak is so tender that it almost doesn’t taste like meat, but simply a part of some type of secret concoction when you combine it with pinto beans. You don’t need much more, but the side of rice and salad are a great compliment.
The service is great, with smiles abound — there seems to be a genuine love for being there. Your empty plate is rarely on the table for more than a couple minutes, and you are consistently asked if there is anything else you need. The food is simply in the top 1 percent of Mexican eats in Santa Barbara. And the Milpas location has a very cool vibe, a fun and inviting location.
The Undercover Fork has to be picky, and the UF would like to see an expansion of the salsa bar. What’s there is outstanding, but would love to see more variety, as well as it being located away from the bathrooms. Just a bit of cramped space, and the smells can be a bit odd. Also, warm chips would be an amazing add, as the appetizer usually is a bit on the cold side, making for a super-crunchy chip. A little bit of heat will go a long way.