Sunday, April 19, 2009

Agua Verde

Agua Verde is the super busy Mexican restaurant/Kayak rental combo near the University of Washington that is so popular and well loved that it seems to have become cool recently to give it a good diss. Too busy (true), not as good as "everybody" thinks (hmmm), too many yams (do you know how to read a menu?) etc. Are our egos that fragile?? I guess it is human (or at least hipster) nature to turn against something that too many people like.

With that said, it is really busy. Too busy. Line out the door, take a pager (don't start thinking of the Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory... this little device is necessary here but does feel out of place) and wait for an hour kind of busy. And the kayaks aren't a huge selling point for me either; while kayaking and eating are both nice activities, it's not like Seattle is short of places to find food after kayaking on the lake. But the location is lovely, especially on a sunny day, and the food is healthy, interesting, inexpensive, tasty and fresh and includes quite a nice selection of vegetarian (and vegan) choices.

Fresh sturdy chips with chunky guacamole and cocktails made from housemade juices

I went recently to celebrate a birthday, and after our customary wait (which, by the way, can be passed quite pleasantly at the adjoining park at the lake's edge), we began with drinks. Dining companions ordered margaritas with Mexican lime, and I got a mango margarita. I ordered without full consideration of the menu, and soon wished I had ordered the prickly pear which was served on the rocks instead of the tasty but filling blended smoothie mango.

When eating here I tend to order the "3 sides and 3 tortillas" option because their sides are delicious and vegetarian (rice with chard, chili mashed potatoes, black beans, jicama salsa, red cabbage slaw, etc), but this time decided to order yam tacos, which are one of the two vegetarian taco options (the other variety is portobello).
They weren't a disappointment. The soft corn tortillas came mounded with buttery yam cubes sauteed with onions and chilis, and drizzled in creamy avocado sauce and sprinkled with cotija cheese. The plate also came with black beans and chard rice.

The salsa bar (yes!) tends to have 3 salsas, including one with slightly smoky roasted jalapenos that I find especially delicious.

Something else I really appreciate about this place is that they make a real attempt to be responsible with their food. The following is a statement of their practice and intent taken from their website:

"We strive to use organic, sustainable and eco-friendly food and are proud of our recycling and composting efforts.

What does this mean?

Meat - produced from animals raised on farms (as opposed to factories), given vegetarian feed without growth hormones or antibiotics

Seafood - caught or raised sustainably using eco-friendly techniques

Produce - vegetables and fruit grown organically and obtained from local sources when possible

Drinks - hand made in house juices and margaritas

Coffee - shade-grown produced by small co-ops and specially blended for Agua Verde

Recycling - product packaging is recycled - cardboard, plastic, glass and metal

Composting - food waste is composted and meal packaging is compostable - including to go cups, boxes, and utensils."

I think it's a good place. I love the variety available to vegetarians, the location can't be beat on a sunny evening, and I appreciate the efforts they make towards being an ecologically responsible establishment. And the food just tastes good... fresh, healthy, well figured out. I don't often end up braving the wait, but I do understand why people do.

Agua Verde
(206) 545-8570
University District
1303 NE Boat St
Seattle, WA 98105

Agua Verde on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Ben said...

Three cheers for "Agua Verde"
Many legit reasons this place is so popular. They also feature live music regularly.