Dining is a Sensory Sensation at Agave Bandido

Good Bite

Pictured: Smoked at the bar or tableside, the Fueguito cocktail is a drink and a show. Photo provided by Wolverine Restaurants.

In October 2020, business partners Mathew Baum and Matthew Faul opened the first location of Agave Bandido in Pembroke Pines. With its colorful decor and creative culinary flair, this high-volume Mexican restaurant and tequila bar thrived in vibrant south Florida. In March, the duo opened a second Agave Bandido location in Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch where it’s already making a splash on the local food scene.

“The thing that we’re really taking on as our niche is taking a downtown large city vibe and bringing it to densely-populated suburbs,” says Faul who is the COO of Agave Bandido. To achieve this vision, every facet of the restaurant is, in Faul’s words, “over-the-top”.

That’s immediately evident starting with the decor. Agave Bandido is not your abuela’s Mexican restaurant. Though the restaurant is colorful, it has a moody, sophisticated vibe thanks to the use of saturated jewel tones throughout the space. Spray-painted murals adorn the walls and cascade along the ceiling, adding that urban edge, while light fixtures crafted from skulls and blown glass bring a touch of whimsy.

The food at Agave Bandito is as inventive as the decor. The cuisine can be best described as Mexican-inspired: while the dishes do feature many ingredients traditionally found in Mexican cooking, they have a contemporary flair to them. One of the most popular dishes at Agave bandido is the Birria Tacos. The beef is slow-cooked until it is tender and falling apart. The liquid from the beef is reserved as a consomme. That consomme is brushed on taco shells, imbuing them with a rich flavor, before they’re grilled on the flat top where they get super crispy, a beautiful contrast to the tender, juicy beef inside. The Birria Tacos are topped with salty cotija cheese, crisp radishes, and savory cilantro, adding more depth of flavor. Additional consomme is served on the side as a dipping sauce for the tacos.

As delicious as the food is, the bar menu may be even more impressive.

“Our hyperfocus is definitely tequila,” Faul says. At the Lakewood Ranch location, between 150 and 200 different types of tequila are available for diners to enjoy. They also offer a variety of mixed drinks, many of them tequila-based.

“Besides our classic margarita, our top-selling cocktail is the Chill and Go which is like a pina colada margarita. We top it with torched coconut shavings, pineapple fronds, and a chunk of pineapple,” Faul says. “It’s super flavorful and refreshing.”

Faul also recommends the Fueguito, a mildly spiced raspberry margarita that can be smoked under a dome at the bar or tableside where the dome will be removed in front of the diner.

“It’s a perfect social media experience,” says Faul.

Speaking of cocktails, be sure to head upstairs and check out Maya, the hidden Speaktiki (a Polynesian twist on a speakeasy). This cocktail-only area features lounge seating and offers higher-end bourbons, tequilas, wines, and tiki-style drinks among other beverage offerings.

Agave Bandido is open from 11am-10pm Sunday-Tuesday; 11am-11pm Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11am-1am Fridays and Saturdays. To learn more, check out their website at agavebandido.com

Agave Bandido, 1550 Lakefront Dr, Sarasota, 941-260-8866.

Pictured: Smoked at the bar or tableside, the Fueguito cocktail is a drink and a show. Photo provided by Wolverine Restaurants.

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