La Piñata reborn

Drink all three of these and you’ll convince yourself that Jimmy Buffet knew what he was singing about.

Drink all three of these and you’ll convince yourself that Jimmy Buffet knew what he was singing about.

Photo By Nick Higman

The Agave

1575 Vassar St.
Reno, NV 89502

(775) 323-3210

La Piñata has been revived. Many of you may remember this Mexican restaurant and cantina tucked away in a shopping center on the corner of Kietzke Lane and Vassar Street. It was never known for amazing cuisine, but the food was always decent, and they always had a good happy hour. Well, the Agave, a new restaurant with a similar menu by new owners in the same location, is keeping that tequila-and-quesadilla tradition alive. This is the perfect place to go after work for a Margarita and some chips and salsa.

It’s also a good spot to go for the lunch buffet ($8.50). They occasionally host live mariachi music and have two-for-one Margarita specials. They also will have a new outdoor patio for the warm summer months to come. Locals in Reno love a good happy hour, and this location has always been a favorite spot for the mid-town crowd.

Many of my friends evaluate a bar based on how good the happy hour is. My friends might start frequenting the Agave when they hear about the two-for-one Margaritas and the 50 percent discount on the second meal purchased. This is a good deal, because you get high-quality food and drink—they aren’t just giving away a bunch of tidbits like some other places do.

The owners of the Agave have put a lot of work into improving the place. They spruced-up the front, making it a pleasant entry into the authentic, adobe cantina-style eatery. Inside, it’s cool and shady with plenty of room to spread out for big parties. The dining room has enough separation between tables that you aren’t forced to listen in on everyone else’s conversation. During one of our sweltering summer days in Reno, the Agave would be the ideal shady rest spot to wet your whistle and cool off, before facing the intense heat again.

The menu at the Agave is the standard south-of-the-border grinds. You know, combinations of tacos, enchiladas, chile rellenos and tamales. There are some great appetizers, like shrimp cocktail, guacamole and the Agave platter: nachos, chicken taquitos, a chicken chimichanga and a cheese quesadilla with sour cream and guacamole. They also have some big salads, fajitas, fish tacos and, for diners looking for something out-of-the-box, there is the Agave parrillada: grilled steak, chicken, corn on the cob, and cactus served with beans, rice, sour cream and guacamole.

I decided to try something basic on my first visit, so I ordered the chicken enchiladas combination ($8.95). The chips and salsa came out right away—the service is fast and friendly. They have really good chips and salsa here. (You can’t know how many Mexican restaurants I have been to where they mess them up.) Shortly after I devoured the chips and salsa, my chicken enchiladas came out with a big plume of steam pouring off them … man, they looked good. I tore into them. The chicken was moist and flavorful with chunks of fresh chiles and tomatoes mixed in. The sauce was light with a pleasant sweet-and-salty kick to it, but it didn’t overpower the rest of the food. The beans were covered with tons of delicious melted cheese.

The Agave has some good food and great specials, and it’s a cool spot to hang out and enjoy Margaritas and live music.