Agave Side Bar
Author: Laura Jacobi | Photographer: Photography by Anne
Think back to some of your favorite dining experiences. If you’re anything like me, it might include sitting on a stool at the counter and ordering ice cream with whatever toppings you want. Or maybe it’s that local diner where the waitress knows exactly how you like your club sandwich: heavy on the bacon, light on the mayo. Either way, I’m guessing it’s not only the food you remember, but the experience of pulling up a stool, and sharing your day with the person behind the counter or bar. When everyone is sitting so close at a bar, it can dramatically change the dining experience. You meet people, talk, connect and share.
Jimmy Soules, co-owner of the new Agave Side Bar in Bluffton’s Promenade, says he hopes the bar and taco restaurant can create that fun and casual atmosphere that brings people together. Agave, which opened in June, has some patio seating, but is mainly a 30-seat bar. Patrons aren’t separated by tables. They all sit at the bar, and according to Soules, it gives them a chance to relax, talk and build relationships.
This isn’t Soules’ first go-round at the restaurant industry, as he is also co-owner of the fine-dining experience The Bluffton Room, located nearby in the Promenade.
Agave Side Bar, also owned by Bill Herbkersman, was originally planned to be Rivertown Tavern, a burger joint located between Bluffton BBQ and Mulberry Street Pizzeria. But with some of the new restaurants popping up in Bluffton, such as Fat Patties, the two decided to create something completely different. And Bluffton’s “State of Mind,” proximity to the water and casual and inviting atmosphere made it the perfect spot for something with more of an island vibe.
Fun, fresh, flavorful
Soules says even though Agave serves delicious margaritas and tacos, it’s not your typical Mexican restaurant. Guests can start their experience with a shot of Patron or a Cherry Margarita, both starting at $7 each, then move on to one of the unique and flavorful, soft-shell tacos such as Mahi-mahi, Ahi Tuna or marinated skirt steak—a far cry from the traditional ground beef and chopped chicken tacos.
“I’ve used the phrase ‘new-age’ tacos when describing our menu, and although I can’t exactly define what that is, you’ll know it when you taste them,” Soules said.
Patrons can also sink their teeth into a unique pork shoulder taco topped with Asian slaw, fresh tortilla chips and salsa. The pork will be supplied by neighboring restaurant Bluffton BBQ. The tacos will range in price from $6-$8.
Other menu items will include a special black bean recipe, shrimp tacos and conch fritters. Another option Soules is excited to present is Mexican Street Corn, because it’s fun, flavorful and easy to eat. It’s typically corn on the cob, which is grilled and then coated with a mayonnaise-based sauce that includes lime juice, cheese and other spices.
“We can’t be everything to everybody,” Soules says. “But we can offer fast, fun and flavorful food and drinks.”
Although Agave Side Bar specializes in Patron tequila-infused margaritas, it includes a full bar with a “nice wine selection and Mexican beers.”
From Left to Right: Pomegranate Margarita, Mexican Street Corn drizzled with a creamy glaze and crumbled Fresco cheese and Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita
A place to escape
Soules has a long history in the restaurant business, mostly in steakhouses. When the economy turned sour for so many in 2006 and 2007, he decided to visit his daughter in St. John in the Virgin Islands as a way to escape the day-to-day. While there, he worked for a place called Margarita Phil’s. The salty island bar served up cold beer and tequila, good tacos and good times. He says he had a blast and has wanted to recreate a similar setting ever since. Agave presents the ideal opportunity to make this dream come true.
The bright exterior of the building looks like something you’d see on the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean. Soules says he wants the place to have an island vibe with Latin-style music. “Hopefully, it’ll be the perfect place to stop in, cool off and recharge this summer,” he said.
Even the bar’s design features remind guests of an island vacation. “No one wants to see themselves when they look at a bar,” which is why there aren’t mirrors lining the walls at Agave. Instead, Soules commissioned local artist, Veronica Martini, to paint a breathtaking sunset on the back wall.
It’s all about pulling up a chair, sipping a refreshing margarita and building relationships with customers, and Soules is excited to have this opportunity in a welcoming, casual locale like Bluffton.
Agave Side Bar will also include roll-up windows, which when opened, will bring the inside of the bustling bar out to the streets of the Promenade. This is definitely a place where flip flops are not only welcomed, but encouraged, and just in time for summer.
Agave Side Bar is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information, call the restaurant at (843) 757-9190.