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Best New Mexican Restaurant, Large San Francisco 2006 - Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge

The size of this restaurant, a lofty and classily redone warehouse south of Market, and its emphasis on tequila (available in a number of elaborate house cocktails and sipping flights as well as the inevitable margaritas, "Rocks, no salt" being the house style) might make one wary about the finesse of the kitchen, but have no fear. Tres Agaves features the cooking of Jalisco, since that's where 98 percent of Mexico's tequila is produced, and turns out some impressive dishes, especially the succulent, long-cooked meats. Try the juicy, slow-roasted carnitas, two baseball-sized lumps of pork served with fresh-chopped tomato and onion salsa, radishes, lime wedges, and corn tortillas, or the carne en su jugo, Jaliscan-style slow-cooked beef in a rich broth with bacon, cilantro, onions, and lime. With each main course come four side dishes, served family style: cilantro rice, cabbage salad with julienned mango, and two bean dishes — soupy refried pintos and white beans stewed with tomatoes.
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