It didn’t take George Korten long to transform his four-year-old GM Burger Bar in Massapequa Park into the upscale Mexican Bar Agave. The former closed in late July; the latter debuted, in all its cantina-ed glory, on Wednesday. The old décor, which brought to mind a suburban cattle ranch, has given way to Mexican-tiled walls, banquettes upholstered in tones of guacamole and salsa, romantic lighting and the obligatory portrait of Frida Kahlo.
Korten, whose George Martin Group operates four additional restaurants on Long Island, explained that even a successful family-friendly restaurant can be a tough financial proposition since parents eating out with their kids do not typically spend much at the bar (and milkshake orders can easily outweigh much-more-profitable cocktails). Then too, the burger concept, which Korten helped introduce with his original GM Burger Bar in Rockville Centre in 2013, has reached the saturation point. “But there was nothing like this [Bar Agave] in the area,” he said.
For the menu, corporate executive chef Frank Greco worked with Richard Caruso, who also launched Caracara Mexican Grill in Farmingdale as well as having cooked at the Manhattan restaurants Rosa Mexicana and Javelina, where he ran the kitchen.
The first thing on the menu — and the first thing you see when you enter the restaurant — is the guacamole bar. Servings ($12.95) are made fresh to order. Other starters ($8.95 to $13.95) include tortilla soup, chicken flautas, seafood empanadas and shrimp ceviche. There are “street tacos” (about $12) on soft corn tortillas, filled with pork cochinita, beef short rib, fried fish or shrimp, roasted cauliflower and “skillet tacos” (about $22), more elaborate preparations served in a cast-iron skillet with rice and beans.
Also on the menu: enchiladas and “house specialties” that include marinated skirt steak adobo ($28.94), tequila-marinated shrimp skewers with street corn ($25.95), grilled salmon ($25.95), branzino a la Veracruz ($28.95), Yucatán roast chicken ($22.95) and espresso-rubbed filet mignon with charred tomato-chipotle butter ($32.95)
The drinks menu is equally extensive and is backed up by a collection of 60 tequilas and eight mescals. Flights of both liquors are available.
Bar Agave is open Monday to Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m., Sunday to 9 p.m.
4902 Merrick Rd., Massapequa Park, 516-308-7722, baragaveny.com.