Certain foods and drinks just seem to go together. Wine and cheese, beer and brats, milk and cookies. And, when it comes to Mexican cuisine, tacos and tequila.
And, when it comes to Mexican cuisine, tacos and tequila.
Said combination apparently was an inspiration for Roque Jimenez and Bob Schulken, who last month opened Cien Agaves Tacos & Tequila in Old Town Scottsdale.
The two-story building, previously the Butcher Block Restaurant and, before that, Tapas Restaurant, juxtaposes a mostly rustic decor — a stained concrete bar, dark wood furniture, tile-decorated columns — with high-energy Latin music and the colorful Chicano pop art by Valley artist Moises.
As a result, Cien Agaves draws an eclectic crowd, ranging from baby boomer turistas browsing Old Town’s curio shops to hip 20-somethings who can pack the place after dark, especially on weekends.
The menu includes salads and a few entrees such as enchiladas and fajitas, but the focus is on the namesake tacos, which are offered in 13 varieties. All are served a la carte, most with a choice of corn or flour tortilla.
My favorite, and the restaurant’s most popular, is the Tinga taco ($4), filled with shredded chicken that has been marinated in a chipotle chili sauce. It comes in a corn tortilla and is deep-fried.
It has a nice, bold flavor but — like all of Cien Agaves’ tacos — it’s not overtly hot and should be fine for anyone except the most spice-averse.
I also give high marks to the chorizo con pappas taco ($4), Mexican sausage sauteed with potatoes, and the taco al pastor ($4), marinated steak in adobo sauce mixed with grilled pineapples.
Seafood lovers will enjoy the camarones a la diabla ($5), shrimp sauteed in tangy guajillo sauce and Mexican rice, and the lobster taco ($6), which mixes the meat with a crunchy jicama salad.
Other tacos are the pollo asado, carnitas, carne asada, shredded beef, potato and cheese, salmon, tilapia and vegetable.
If you’ve got a big crowd, Cien Agaves offers a $35 combination platter of any 10 tacos with three house salsas.
All meals come with chips and two very good salsas, red and green.
The highlight of the side dishes ($3 apiece) is the delicious grilled corn, a full cob with the husk tied into a decorative bow. The ear is liberally sprinkled with salty cotija cheese and dusted with chili powder.
Other sides include rice and beans, guajillo mashed potatoes and jicama “fruit” salad with diced tomatoes, pineapples, corn and onions.
At the bar, aficionados can choose from nearly 100 (“cien”) tequilas — which, of course, are made from blue agaves, thus the restaurant’s name.
Not surprisingly, wonderful margaritas are the house specialties.
Because what goes better with tacos?
REVIEW | Cien Agaves Tacos & Tequila
Where: 7228 E. First Ave., Scottsdale (one block east of Scottsdale Road)
Open: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Prices: Appetizers $7-$12, salads $4-$12, tacos $3-$6, entrees $10-$20
Information: (480) 970-9002