We have a number of good Mexican restaurants in the Quad Cities area thanks to the number of Mexican immigrants who made their way to the Mississippi River valley years ago to work in the melon fields or to get work at any one of the farm equipment factories that were centered in and around the Quad Cities. Many of those immigrants stayed in the area and their second and third generations have opened some good to outstanding Mexican restaurants in the area. Because we have so many Mexican restaurants in the area, if you aren't very good, you aren't going to stick around for long. On any given night we have our choice of a dozen Mexican restaurants that we have not gotten burned out on over the years. One of the places that we like to visit around the Quad Cities are one of the four Los Agaves restaurants in the area. On this particular evening, we visited the one in northeast Davenport along Utica Ridge Road.
The Leon family owned a handful of Mexican restaurants with most of them located in Central Iowa, but other family members owned restaurants in Tennessee and North Carolina. In 2004, they acquired the old Tin Pan Alley restaurant located at the corner of Brady and E. Kimberly Road in Davenport and opened the first Los Agaves in the Quad Cities run by Ernesto Leon and Emilio Duran. It was similar to many of the other family-style Mexican restaurants that had popped up around the area, but we seemed to like going there more than some of the other ones.
In 2006, the family opened the second Los Agaves location in Moline in what was the former Tortilla Flats location and was run by Leon's sister Veronica Santanilla. About five years ago, the Leon family opened a third location opened in northeast Davenport and last year a fourth location was opened on the far eastern end of Moline.
The Utica Ridge Los Agaves is located in a strip mall along a stretch of road that is home to a number of restaurants in northeast Davenport. (see map) It was a weeknight when we ventured out to this Los Agaves. We were sort of surprised to see that the restaurant was nearly deserted on an unseasonably warm evening - one of many we had this past winter. Usually, the place is packed. And when it's packed, it's very loud in there. We've purposely passed by this place on some nights when it was busy because it gets so loud in there that you have trouble having a conversation just across the table.
The decor is elegant and upscale for a Mexican restaurant, and it's very comfortable in both atmosphere and seating. The open ceiling, however, has an echo effect that bounces throughout the place and amplifying the noise levels. (My company imports Vicoustic acoustic panels in North America. Maybe I need to go in and talk to these guys about putting some on the ceiling to help deaden the sound in the place.) In the warmer months, there's a patio in front of the place where people can dine outdoors.
The bar area at Los Agaves is very nice. With a half dozen flat panel televisions hanging in the immediate area, it has the atmosphere of a sports bar. I remarked to my wife that I keep forgetting about this bar and how it would be a good place to come to on a Saturday afternoon to watch college football or basketball. But knowing my penchant for margaritas, I'd probably get too hammered to focus on sports.
We were seated in a booth just past the pillars and archs that line the north wall of the restaurant and given a couple of menus to look over. A bowl of fresh tortilla chips along with Los Agaves' very good sweet and somewhat spicy salsa was provided. They had a special that night - $2.95 for a 24 ounce Dos Equis Ambar. I couldn't pass that up. My wife had a small gold margarita. Unfortunately, they didn't have a special on gold margaritas that night - or any night. But Los Agaves' idea of a small margarita is much larger than most other places small margarita.
The menu at Los Agaves is pretty much the same that you'd find at most other Mexican restaurants - enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, burritos, etc., etc. They had a number of combination plates to choose from, as well as a number of ala carte items that you can pick and choose to combine. There's also about a dozen seafood items to choose from including fish tacos and shrimp dishes. They also have a number of selections on the menu for vegetarians.
That evening, my wife got the chicken enchilada and chile relleno combination (she had to ask to substitute the beef for the chicken which was no problem). She likes chicken enchiladas and she thought the one at Los Agaves was fine. The cheese-filled chile relleno was also to her liking. I prefer beef in my chile rellenos, but she likes the cheese-filled ones.
I went basic with an order of shredded beef tacos. The tacos featured some shredded lettuce and some chihuahua cheese. The beef was tender and flavorful - I tasted a hint of all-spice in the seasoning of the beef. The tacos were pretty basic and they were really all I needed that night.
The food at the Los Agaves restaurants is always dependable. While it's never been outstanding, it's always been consistently above average. While we like the Utica Ridge location because of the elegant Mexican decor in the place, it turns us off when the place is packed and it's uncomfortably loud. Service at Los Agaves always seems to be quick and efficient. Los Agaves has good and serviceable Mexican food, but there's other places around the Quad Cities that do it better.