Agave: the new Mexican we didn't know we needed.
Updated: Jun 15
The new Mexican restaurant at the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba has everybody who's tried it obsessed.
If you have lucky ears, you might have heard the rumor of the new Mexican restaurant at the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba. Another Mexican? you probably said too... thing is, this is one that we did not know we needed.
When you think Mexican food, what comes to mind is tacos, burritos, loaded nachos... but most of the time what we get served is not really Mexican, it is Tex-Mex! and of course much respect for that cuisine that is so comforting and iconic! There is always a time and place for a good tray of nachos with cheese, jalapeño, ground beef, and bacon bits.
Mexican gastronomy is massive, complex, and very different from region to region, so it is really hard to put it all in a box. It does have its icons though and when they are well made, it's an explosion of flavors. I hugely recommend the Netflix documentary from the legendary Samin Nosrat called SALT FAT ACID HEAT (Link here) where in chapter 3, Acid, she goes to Yucatán and explores the depths of flavors that contribute to making Mexican dishes so powerful.
Agave was a mystery in the works. Black curtains covered the windows that overlook the pool area at the Holiday Inn and no one could see what was being built for months. Executive Chef Aldwin Donata and his team worked hard to make sure we were not getting BS food, that it was as authentic as it could be sourced here in Aruba and that the presentations were elevated, in order to position themselves as the real deal.
For the locals it is not an easy find, there is not a billboard on the hotel strip, and from the beach, you could hardly see where it is. I am still wondering why they are keeping it so down low!
Enter the Holiday Inn lobby, make a turn to your right, and go all the way, you'll find it or as I do, enter the casino and go thru it, on the exit that goes to the hallway inside the hotel there it is.
The decor is unpretentious and comfortable. Light fixtures provide enough light for you to see every detail, it is a large space but it is not massive. It is for all audiences, all ages feel welcome there.
So what happens when you get there?
You should order a Margarita of course! they have a nice cocktail menu and of course, all the other stuff is available too but why would you let the opportunity pass and not have a Margarita?
Now to probably what is my favorite thing about this place? the chips!
These are not your average chips, these are HOMEMADE! and fried at the moment and then tossed into a bowl with tajín and salt. You get two dipping sauces, green and spicy. They come out still warm and they are complimentary, yes, you read that right. I can't make enough emphasis on this! These enough are a reason to go to Agave.
Long gone are the days when restaurants did not care about the appetizers menu, Caesar Salads, and sad Calamaris are things of the past. Now, I would even dare to say, restaurants shine the most with this section of the menu. Not every night the diners are in the mood to have a full meal, especially when you're traveling, you probably going out later, or want to order different things for the table to share, whatever the case, the appetizers here go hard.
My top picks are:
Guacamole: hear me out, this one is made to order a la minute. You can taste the freshness. It is chunky, herby, it's got it all. Comes with more chips cause you can't never have too much. $15
Croquetas de Elote: Corn nuggets I would say. So SO good. Two expressions of corn, the one fried and the one charred on top. $13
It is good the appetizers were light to be able to try other things.
Enchiladas: a classic, can't go wrong. This one is for big appetites. Marinated chicken thighs, guacachile, crema, Oaxaca cheese, Cotija cheese, Frissé lettuce, and pickled onion. I would say it is the biggest dish on the menu. Probably the fanciest enchiladas I have had. $20
Vegan Tacos: if you were to be in a blind test, you would never know this is vegan. Beyond meat fantastically seasoned. All the bits and pieces that make a taco great like cilantro, salsa, etc, are there. The red tortilla gets its color from beets. Obsessed. $20
Tostaditas de Pulpo: Octopus tostadas. Octopus and chorizo together. Black corn tortilla. This is the thing: you don't get the same tortilla for each taco dish. $28
Here is the whole menu for you to check out:
Desserts are also important.
Tarta de queso frita: imagine a rolled dough with a cheesecake inside, then deep fried. A true glutton's dream. $12
Passion Fruit Tres Leches: My favorite! Not every night I go for dessert but if there is a tres leches on the menu the temptation is too much. $12
To whom it may concern: they do have a kid's menu! 🤣
Agave is only open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. They open at 5:30 PM and during those early hours of service, it feels more family-oriented, for adults only, I will recommend 8 PM seating. The kitchen closes at 10 but the bar stays open until 11.
If you have heard of and gone to Agave at the Holiday Inn Aruba, you are obsessed, and welcome to the club. If you haven't, treat yourself to the best Mexican on the island!
To make a reservation, go on their OpenTable page here
Make sure to follow The Holiday Inn Resort Aruba on their social channels to get to know more!
Holiday Inn Resort Aruba
Holiday Inn Resort Aruba
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