Bar Agave, Formerly GM Burger Bar, Opens in Massapequa

Bar Agave

Photo courtesy of Bar Agave

Move over burgers; the George Martin Group has decided it’s time that tacos have their day. GM Burger Bar in Massapequa completed its transformation into Bar Agave as of September 25 under the leadership of Executive Chef Frank Greco and Chef de Cuisine Richard Caruso.

“There is a need and a void on Long Island for sophisticated Mexican cuisine, especially combined with American Southwest … and it’s one we’ve wanted to fill,” Greco says of the concept.

“Most Mexican restaurants on Long Island—with the exception of a few brands—are perceived as inexpensive Tex-Mex. What we’re doing is bringing a level of sophistication to that genre, with handcrafted margaritas and specialty cocktails made with fresh ingredients and syrups, to help folks appreciate Mexican food and drink the way they do the upscale Italian and steakhouses that dominate the food scene here.”

To do so authentically and respectfully, he dove deep into classic cookbooks by culinary greats of the genre and embarked on a month-long recon mission that led him from food trucks to world-class establishments from Los Angeles to San Diego and New York City in his commitment to  “researching all elements of Mexican cuisine, from fast food to fine dining.” Caruso, respectively, spent some time in Mexico City and studied under Roberto Santibanez himself as Executive Sous Chef at Rosa Mexicano, “the first high-end Mexican restaurant in Manhattan.”

Together, they’ve created a tantalizing menu of dishes from different states across Mexico with ”recipes [that] stay true to the roots and authenticity … add[ing] our own creative twist to conventional dishes but not deviating from the authentic base techniques,” says GMG President George Korten. “This will also allow us the freedom to explore combining sophisticated foods from the American Southwest that Bobby Flay and Steven Pyles are known for.”

Think achiote-marinated pork dishes like cochinita tacos and al pastor skillets with queso fundido. Veracruz-style fish preparations, olives, capers and all, and Oaxacan-style mole sauce on roasted chicken with chihuahua cheese. Then add to it a little local influence, like Long Island duck in a red chili sauce with spiced pecans, or fine dining staples like filet mignon given a south-of-the-border twist with an espresso rub, tomato-chipotle butter and sweet potato-chorizo hash.

Cultural elements will obviously be represented in the decor as well, incorporated tastefully to provide a date night ambiance with a splash of fun, bright color. According to Greco, tthe large dining space is meant to evoke a hacienda-style courtyard, “surrounded by custom horseshoe booths and an exceptionally long banquet great for groups, covered in leathers and Serape blankets. Within the courtyard are tables dressed in crisp white lines set with colorful fiesta-style share plates and rustic country chairs.” Classic Mexican art and details accent the space, highlighted by wrought iron and glass pendants lighting and chandeliers suspended at varying heights against a darkly stained ceiling meant to be evocative of an evening sky.

The bar area also received great attention to detail, shimmering with copper surfaces, vibrant with colorful materials and agave plants, and lit by Mexican lanterns. There, you’ll be able to order Mexican beers, house-made sangria, and signature margaritas that include the Garden Fresh with jalapeno, cucumber, blood orange and a chili sugared rim; Bar Agave with Cointreau, lime, agave and Himalayan Sea Salt; and Mezcal No. 5 with lime, agave nectar, jalapeno and a Grand Marnier Floater. 

In all, “Bar Agave has been designed for adult diners wanting exceptional authentic dishes, menu variety, a mature dining experience and lively bar atmosphere,” Greco sums up with pride. With two years of development from dream to fruition, we’re excited to see how these components come together.