Photo courtesy of T.
I’m not a hard core Mexican food freak like many Californians, but I certainly enjoy a good Burrito now and then, and up till now it’s fair to say that Shanghai has been lacking an authentic, good quality, value for money Mexican restaurant. Maya is excellent, but it’s not a casual dining experience, it’s not cheap and it doesn’t offer many of the Mexican staples I know and love.
Cantina Agave has recently opened on Fumin Lu (close to Chang Le Lu) and I’d heard good things about it from reliable sources, including Shanghaiist and frequent commenter T who has his own blog. And of course, Swiss James, always one to check out new places years before the rest of us catch up, also gave it the Swiss seal of approval, so you know it can’t be bad. And it wasn’t.
I’d heard it is a busy place with long waits, so I prepared a backup option (Haiku on Tao Jiang Lu) but didn’t need it as miraculously there was a vacant table in an otherwise crowded little restaurant. It was full of Mexican looking customers and Californian ABCs (American born Chinese) which I took as a good sign.
The menu is simplicity itself. You choose your shell, you choose your filling. That’s about it. We started with nachos, just a half portion, and were asked to choose what toppings. I went with beef and pork and they were fabulous. – almost as good as TGI Fridays! The chunks of beef especially were chunky and moist and there was a huge dollop of guacamole and sour cream.
As I said, I’m not an aficionado so I went for what I knew, a burrito mamita, filled with a meat of my choice as well as beans and rice all wrapped in a flour tortilla. Wonderful.
It was a Sunday night so I didn’t sample any of the Tequilas they had on the shelves or any of the margaritas that almost everyone else was downing (the 3 girls on the next table were getting through a pitcher of passion fruit margaritas rather swiftly), but perhaps next time, with a larger group, it’ll have to be done.
All in all then, this joint gets the WoAi thumbs up as a great, (relatively) cheap and most importantly, delicious and authentic Mexican restaurant. A first for Shanghai and a nice change from all the pretentious, overpriced, underwhelming establishments that can’t justify themselves in these recession ridden times.
Total cost : 167 RMB for 2
Value for money : 8/10
Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Ambiance : 7/10
Cantina Agave – 291 Fumin Lu, Suite 01 A-2, near Changle Lu (富民路291号, 01 A-2, 近常乐路) Tel: 6170-1310, Hours: 11 am – 11 pm daily