At least three times a week, Jorge Aguilar goes to El Agave Azul to enjoy his favorite carne asada taco, and savor the friendly, homey atmosphere at the Davie restaurant.“This is the most authentic Mexican restaurant I have come across in this area,” said Aguilar, 37, who has been a customer for 10 months. “The best part is to eat tacos while talking to the owners about soccer, politics and baseball. When Weston residents Ivan Alarcon, 33, and his wife Nathalie Marcano, 32, opened the 500-square-foot taqueria in January 2010, they intended it to be just a catering business. “But we left a small space for take-out, so people would come and try some food and order the catering,” Alarcon said. “I thought that very few people were going to come by every day, but as people started trying the food, and the word got out, the take-out completely took over the catering business.” Alarcon’s passion for Mexican food, and his difficulty finding a local restaurant that reminded him of dishes from his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, motivated him to learn to cook. Soon after many telephone calls for recipes to his mother and aunts, his efforts won praise from friends, who encouraged him to start catering. “I started throwing parties at home, and my main point of focus was food to showcase my culture among my friends,” said Alarcon. “People really liked what I did.” Alarcon came to South Florida in 1997 to get a college degree in computer science at Nova Southeastern University. Two years later, he got a job as an operations manager in the telecommunications company, Nortel, where he worked for 10 years. But things were not doing so well in the corporate world. Nortel had a large number of layoffs, so Alarcon was concerned his job could be cut next. So nine months before losing his position, Alarcon started making plans for his catering business. “Companies weren’t giving raises, and within my industry things weren’t the best,” he said. “I had to find my way around to it and make extra money on the weekends.” With only three tables, El Agave Azul is busy daily, serving about 100 customers on a weekday, 150 on weekends. “I call it take-out because of our space, but reality is that a lot of people eat here,” Alarcon said. “We always joke around and say we have curbside-sitting because people sit on the curbside to eat.” Named after the cactus from which tequila is made, El Agave Azul is best known for its signature dish Tacos de Trompo, five corn tortillas with a beef-pork combo in a house marinade, and Northern-style campechana, with melted cheese, the trompo beef-pork combo, carne asada, a slice of avocado in a flour tortilla. The menu, which also offers vegetarian items, features tacos, soups, quesadillas, tortillas, burritos and sopes, a small thick corn tortilla. Almost everything is sold individually, so customers can create their own meal. Every two weeks, when Marta Cieslik, 37, a Brevard County resident, comes to Davie to visit her husband, Krzysztof Cieslik, 40, who is pursing a master’s degree in healthcare science at Nova Southeastern University, they stop by El Agave Azul to get her favorite campechana taco, while her husband tries a different dish each visit. “We don’t like Mexican restaurant chains,” said Cieslik, while at El Agave. “We only like small authentic places like this one.”
If you go:What: El Agave Azul.
When: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Where: 13040 W. State Road 84, Davie.
Information: 954-530-4321; www.elagaveazul.com
FYI: AX, DS, MC, VS.