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Port Orchard restaurant offers real taste of Mexico
Every small town has a few Mexican restaurants, providing their own version of the spice-and-tortilla blend that has captivated the American palate.
For the most part, customers assume they are getting a consistent flavor blend, one that incorporates south-of-the-border style with run-of-the-mill American tastes.
For the Blue Agave, which opened in Port Orchard last month, owner Sergio Andrade went for something completely different. For the food, he presented a more “authentic” Mexican experience.
In this case, that means sharper sauces, fresh ingredients and traditional recipes.
Here, you will not find “Tex-Mex,” an uncertain blend that is different everywhere in the country.
For the service, Andrade designed a system that borrows from short order locations like Subway. Each meal is made to the customer’s order, from a list of available ingredients.
The choices exist within certain parameters — a burrito is still a burrito. But the restaurant allows for improvisation.
Much like Subway, you select a specific tortilla and a meat. There is a choice of several varieties of rice and beans.
Guacamole and cheese is always an option. And a variety of sauces allows it to become as hot — or as mild — as desired.
“I have wanted to do this for a long time,” Andrade said. “Port Orchard needs something like this. We don’t have any traditional Mexican restaurants here. So far, the response has been very positive.”
Aside from burritos and tacos, the restaurant serves Menudo, a tripe-based soup that “you either love or you hate.”
For his part, Andrade admits that Menudo isn’t his personal favorite.
“We make everything fresh and don’t use any preservatives,” he said. “We use healthy ingredients that people can tailor to their health or taste needs.”
Andrade said the restaurant projects how much of each item is to be prepared each day. If more is needed they can create it quickly.
If there is too much, then little goes to waste. And nothing is carried over until the next day.
The good news, Andrade said, is that he has consistently underestimated demand.
Unlike the average taco bar, Blue Agave has a full bar and a liquor license.
If authentic Mexican food wasn’t enough for Port Orchard, the restaurant carries 50 different varieties of tequila.
Here, Andrade is anticipating a gourmand market for tequila, similar to the recent public awareness of quality wine.
Incidentally, the agave, from which Tequila is extracted, provided the origin for the restaurant’s name.
Andrade, 39, also manages Puerto Vallerta, one of the aforementioned Mexican restaurants that caters to mainstream tastes.
While it appears to be a franchise, with 24 locations throughout the region, it is actually a family-owned business.
Each of Andrade’s siblings runs a handful of restaurants.
Whether or not a Blue Agave sprouts in a variety of locations remains to be seen, Andrade intends to evaluate the business in a few months. However it goes, he is encouraged by the response so far.
“When we opened we expected a different clientele,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of the same people who come to Puerto Vallerta, who are looking for something different.”
Blue Agave is located at the corner of Sedgewick and Jackson, next to Tully’s Coffee.