It’s here and it’s delicious! The well-renowned Los Agaves, originally located in downtown Santa Barbara on De La Vina St. and N. Milpas St., opened its third location in Goleta at the Camino Real Marketplace. If you were looking for that special restaurant to take your “special friend” to, then look no further. The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor patio, something the chain’s other two locations lack, making it more relaxed and welcoming on hot days.
When I walked into the restaurant, I was greeted by the close-knit, friendly staff who made me feel at home instantly, something the owner, Carlos Luna, is adamant about. “The most important thing for us is to make [customers] feel at home, make them comfortable,” he said. “When you leave, we want you to leave happy.”
And happy I was. The authenticity was palpable in the atmosphere. From the colorful paintings and posters hung all over the walls, the serve-yourself salsa bar and the Spanish music playing in the background, one got a sense of pride and admiration for the Mexican culture in the restaurant. The big windows kept the place light and fresh and the masterful chandeliers gave it a sense of opulence in a single breath.
So what exactly makes Los Agaves different from all the other Mexican restaurants that make up the California lifestyle? I had the same question for Luna. He claims that he was inspired to show a different side of Mexican cuisine. His vision was to rebrand the style as elegant and adventurous — not just your basic tacos and burritos. Luna “wanted to see more diversity.”
In my humble opinion, Luna has nailed it. As a SoCal native, I never judge a book by its cover, but I judge a Mexican restaurant by its chips and guac. On that basis alone, Los Agaves was a definite success. But then I dug a little deeper and tried their chile relleno burrito. Comprised of their famous chile relleno, black beans and cheese wrapped in a large flour tortilla and topped with their own chipotle sauce and served with rice, sour cream, Pico de Gallo and guacamole, the generous portion of food had me very excited. Once I bit into the beautiful burrito, my excitement turned into delight. I could not get enough of their chipotle sauce and the chile relleno was cooked perfectly. Overall, I was one satisfied customer with one very full belly.
Beyond consistently pleasing old and new customers alike, there are some big changes in store for the Los Agaves chain in the upcoming year: a remodel for the patio to make it bigger, a full liquor license and a larger parking lot for the downtown and Milpas locations. Luna always strives to be more accommodating for his customers, be it atmospheric or food-related. With fresh ingredients and excellent flavors, the delicious food may be a bit pricey for the average college student. But trust a hungry Gaucho: when you try Luna’s food, you will know it was well worth it.