Given Dan and I both enjoy Mexican food, and he'd heard great things about this restaurant in the U-District, we were excited to try a place new to both of us. Once we arrived, the long line out the front door lead us to believe it was worth the wait. Well, at least the view was stellar.
Agua Verde splits its seating into indoor and outdoor, though the outdoor portion is tiny and you're awkwardly seated in a odd traffic zone (I was seated behind a skinny wall) so you're constantly getting interrupted by people milling about in the grass below you and forgotten by the wait staff since they can't see you. Fortunately, we were seated facing the water and it was sunny and warm despite the cool breeze. However, being outdoors, even on a perfect evening, isn't necessarily a plus when the courtyard nearby has a "band" providing its amateur entertainment. As such, it's very hit or miss, so I'd recommended not dining here if you're trying to have a romantic meal.
While we investigated the menu, our organic chips and hand-made salsas arrived. I definitely have a thing for salsa and we were happy to see three different varieties offered. The Salsa Mexicana had tomatoes, onions, chilies, and cilantro, and was the weakest flavored of the three. The darker green "Salsa Verde" was smokey and had more bite than the Rojo, though the lighter green salsa (the waitress didn't know the name) was our favorite with its sweeter, warmer flavors of cilantro and chilies.
For his entree, Dan decided on the Tacos de la Casa. Agua Verde actually offers 10 different fillings for their house tacos including the traditional beef with peppers and onions, chile-rubbed chicken with cranberry slaw, and shredded pork, along with vegetarian options of portabellas or yams, and even five different seafood options including grilled catfish, smoked salmon, sauteed shrimp, grilled mahi mahi, or coconut beer tempura cod. Each of the entrees is served in three soft corn tortillas along with sides of pureed black beans and their "green rice". The taco filling includes red and green cabbage and most are topped by an avocado cream sauce. Despite looking tasty, the rice was bland, the beans were an odd soupy texture (pureed really doesn't work well for a side), and the mahi mahi could have easily been any other meat as the flavor was very mild.
Once I saw the Burrito de Mole, my love for the rich, complex, nutty, chocolately brew took over. I did order mine without the chipotle-flavored tortilla which is why there's a "side salad" along with a cup of the mole and the filling in a separate bowl. Overall, the filling texture was great: chunky, well-cooked beans, the organic free-ranged chicken was tender and juicy, and the rice was fine. The lettuce, sour cream, and "pico de gallo" topping was pretty standard fare. The problem, however, was the mole. It tasted like bottled BBQ sauce and was too sweet (even for my sweet tooth). I'm glad the extra mole was put on the side because it certainly would have detracted from the filling otherwise.
Despite their drive to use "organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly food," and Agua Verde's pride in their recycling and composting efforts, the overall experience left us feeling bored with the food, but grateful for the view.