A Fish Called Walu

Posted: November 10th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Agave Mexican Bistro, Beverly, Cielito Lindo, Mexican, Newburyport | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

There you are, minding your own business, when it hits—that undeniable craving for warm tortilla chips and a salty margarita. True, there aren’t a huge number of places on the North Shore to indulge your need for Mexican comfort food, but we’ve scoped out two that are definitely worth a visit.

For a welcoming atmosphere, fantastic guacamole, and that comfort-food factor, you can’t beat Cielito Lindo on Rantoul Street in Beverly. Always busy on weekend nights, you will nevertheless be greeted with a smile by the mustachioed host, and before you know it, you’ll be seated in the cozy room digging into a rustic bowl full of avocado heaven ($7.50).

On a recent visit, we enjoyed a delicious bowl of posole in addition to the fresh-made guac. The posole was a special that night and featured red chile, white beans, chicken, and cilantro. For entrees, we had skirt steak fajitas, tilapia in a spicy cream sauce, fish tacos, and mayan style pork enchiladas with green tomatillo sauce. All were reasonably priced, freshly made, and well received.

We sipped our way through a pitcher of margaritas that was, sadly, lacking in the tequila department. Our suggestion—go with the sangria and consider a burrito ($6.95). We saw one go by that was the size of a football. Be sure to nod enthusiastically each time the host  comes by to check on you (we’re assuming he’s one of the owners)—you want to be assured of that warm greeting when you return.

For a slightly more upscale meal—and a seafood treat you would not have expected—check out Agavé Mexican Bistro on State Street in Newburyport. Again, you’ll find a wait on weekend nights, but a buzzing coaster and a drink at the inviting downstairs bar will help with that.

At one of the two dining floors above, you’ll be greeted by a colorful décor, white tablecloths, and the noise of tipsy diners. Do try the margaritas here; the restaurant is, after all, named for the plant that provides us with tequila. There are several gussied up versions, but you won’t go wrong with the basic, which has just the right amount of lime. Tequila connoisseurs may want to try a new brand straight up—the restaurant boasts more than 60.

The menu at Agavé is large and varied, and we’ve never tried anything that wasn’t well prepared and delicious. But the star of the show is walu, a fish we’ve never seen elsewhere (Agavé imports it from Hawaii) and worth raving about. It’s a firm, buttery fish that tastes almost like lobster—$23.95 at dinner with vegetable, mashed potatoes, and house-made mango salsa.

Unfortunately, between the chips, ’ritas, and walu, we’re always too full for dessert. But the menu includes churros served with chocolate and cajeta caramel syrup ($5.00), a treat we’re determined to save room for one of these times.

Cielito Lindo
150 Cabot St, Beverly
(978) 922-4657
www.cielitolindogrill.com

Agavé Mexican Bistro
50 State Street, Newburyport
(978) 499-0428
www.agavemexicanbistro.com

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