Review: Agave Azul (Gresham)

Agave Azul
155 SE Vista Avenue
Gresham, OR 97080
Map It!
503-674-0654
Hours: Sun/Mon 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tue – Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Lunch money: $$
[rating:4.5]

Just off (very busy) Powell Boulevard on a quiet side street in Gresham is a little burnt orange colored house that’s been transformed into one of the best Mexican places in the Portland area. No joke. Seriously…no joke.

Arriving at Agave Azul was a little confusing…um, which one’s the right door to enter? Um, is it OK to park on that street, there’s no parking sign? Use the side door and, yes, there’s plenty of FREE parking…even on the street. (Living in Portland can make you parking sign crazy, but this is Gresham.)

But once inside we were quickly seated and handed our menus. The dining room was tiny, very clean, sparsely decorated and (surprisingly) kinda empty considering it was primetime lunchtime on a Wednesday. (Note: there is also additional seating in the adjacent bar/lounge area through the saloon-style doors.)

Starting off, they offer a unique complimentary appetizer—a soft bean taco with a side of fresh salsa hot sauce—instead of the typical jumbo-sized basket of chips and salsa. We were, again, a little confused by this at first, but then realized it actually makes some sense. How often does your entrée arrive at a Mexican restaurant and you’re already too stuffed full of chips? If you’re like us, that happens a lot!

While the complete Agave Azul menu is expansive, we were determined to stick to the lunch menu and its super cheap prices—most dishes run about $6(!)—and we were absolutely NOT disappointed. The lunch menu was quite varied with your typical Mexican fare: tacos, burritos, lots of meat and seafood options…even the pickiest eater will likely find something to happily chow down on.

We ordered the tacos de pescado (fish tacos, duh). The two tacos were piled high with grilled white fish, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime and crème fraiche. We gobbled them both up in record-setting speed! OMG GOOD! The flavors and texture were mastication perfection on a doubled-up corn tortilla!

Our lunch buddy went with a beef burrito with mole sauce—and it was massive! We’re talking seriously substantial.

The portions were on the large size, which can be expected at most Mexican joints, but it wasn’t too overwhelming. Of course, with food that delicious, neither of us had enough left over to warrant asking for doggie bags.

The service was exceptional from beginning to end—attentive, but not pushy. Our food came out super quick, but we never felt rushed. Our check for two people was less than $15! Not bad for a satisfying, belly-filling meal.

Sure, it’s a little off the beaten path, but it’s certainly unique in its shabby Mexi-chic charm and the food rivals some of the better-known Mexican restaurants in Portland. It might just be our new fave après-ski spot after a long winter day of skiing and boarding on Mt. Hood.

GO! Just go and taste for yourself! We just wish we’d been off the clock so we could try one of the margaritas!

PROS:
– Excellent food
– Lunch menu is very affordable
– Great service

CONS:
– Could use a slight ambiance upgrade
– Might be hard to find if you’re not familiar with the area
– Wish it were closer to our house!!

Agave Azul on Urbanspoon

Review: The Rock Wood Fired Pizza (Wood Village)

The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits
22401 NE Glisan Street
Wood Village, OR 97060
Map It!
503-328-8498
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily
Website | Twitter: @TheRock_WFP | Facebook Page | Menu
Lunch money: $$
[rating:4]

You could say there’s already an overabundance of pizza places in the Portland area. We’ve got the national chains (Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Round Table), we’ve the local chains (Bellagio’s, Hot Lips, Pizza Schmizza, Izzy’s), then there are the one-off specialty pizza shops (Dante’s pizza window, Apizza Scholls, Ken’s Artisan, Firehouse) and now even pizza food carts, so why on Earth would we need another pizza place?

How about a new pizza place with a reasonably priced lunchtime buffet, a fun rock ‘n’ roll theme and interesting urinals in the men’s room? Yeah, that’s right, interesting urinal artwork.

The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits is actually part of a small Washington-based chain and their very first Oregon location opened in Wood Village (that’s near Gresham) in June.

We know, we know. Wood Village? For lunch? Sure, it’s a bit of a trek for most Portlanders—especially if your lunch hour really is a hour—but if you live and/or work in the greater Gresham area, The Rock should be on your list of new places to check out.

The Rock is a classic rock theme restaurant, but the theme part is actually a lot better than you might expect—i.e., it’s not that cheesy. The interior is decked out in faux graffiti, band memorabilia, neon signs and there’s lots of exposed brick and pipes. It’s actually quite strange to walk into the rather nondescript strip mall building into the much more interestingly decorated interior of The Rock. Also, as mentioned, they have some very unique urinals (which an awesome male friend offered to photograph for us).

Initially we were planning to go big and dive into the buffet, but then (after much consideration regarding how food-filled our summer has been) decided to scale back a bit and just get a personal-sized pizza. The pizza menu is a large as you would expect, and they offer several different sauce options including classic tomato, creamy white sauce and garlicky butter.

Specialty pizzas abound at The Rock, each bearing a rock song related name (“Crazy Little Thing,” “Crazy Train,” “California Dreamin’,” and “Revolution” to name a few).

We chose the “Stairway to Heaven” 9-inch pie, which had the garlic butter base topped with mozzarella cheese and then baked. Once out of the massive wood-burning pizza oven, they added fresh arugula, diced tomatoes, prosciutto and Parmesan. Continue reading Review: The Rock Wood Fired Pizza (Wood Village)