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Mexican restaurant Agave Bandido ready to debut in Waterside Place

Agave Bandido will be open on March 11 in Waterside Place.
Agave Bandido will be open on March 11 in Waterside Place.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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When sitting down with two restaurateurs, one might expect food to monopolize the conversation. 

That's not the case when speaking with Mat Baum and Matt Faul, owners of Agava Bandido. The Mexican restaurant is opening in Waterside Place March 11.

“Our food is great,” Baum said. “The restaurant stuff is exciting, but the real fun for us is the experience people get.” 

The team is not only preparing for the restaurant’s opening, they’re already planning their first big party for Cinco de Mayo after receiving approval to shut down the street. 

“We’re going to have (entertainment) all through Waterside Place, whether that means portable bars, activities, stilt walkers or fire dancers,” Faul said. “One of the main reasons we picked Waterside Place was because we’re huge on community involvement.” 

The original Agave Bandido is in Pembroke Pines. Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch will be the second location with more restaurants to follow in Orlando, West Palm Beach, Greenville, South Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Mat Baum and Matt Faul are the owners of Agave Bandido.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

When the double doors open, it’s immediately clear that Agave Bandido is not your average Mexican restaurant. Aside from the tables and turquoise booths that line the dining room, it feels more like you are stepping into an art gallery.

The light fixtures are made of skulls and blown glass. Spray painted murals decorate the walls and overflow onto the ceiling. 

Ruben Ubiera is the Miami street artist commissioned to create the murals. He describes his style as “urban-pop.” Ubiera’s work has been featured at Art Basel in Miami and can be spotted in public spaces across South Florida. 

Head over to the bar to sit with a towering tequila bandit that Ubiera created to pay homage to the name Agave Bandido. 

But which piece of art leads to the speakeasy? No spoilers here – finding it is part of the experience. Once behind the secret door, the stairs lead up to Maya’s, a Polynesian oasis that Baum coined the “speak-tiki.”

Maya is short for Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of maguey (agave). Agave is a cactus plant, and blue agave is the main ingredient in tequila. 

While Polynesia is a jump across the Pacific Ocean from Mexico, Baum said the two cultures have similar aesthetics. The focal point of the bar is a wooden sculpture of Mayahuel. Colorful glass fishing floats hang overhead.

As for the experience, expect high-end liquors, over-the-top tiki drinks and exclusivity.

“You have to be seated to go upstairs, there’s no standing,” Baum said. 

There are only 35 seats. Membership isn’t required to get a seat, but it’ll prioritize your reservation and offer access to member-only events. 

“Eventually we’ll probably do something along the lines of a tequila or bourbon locker, so members can have their own bottle up there,” Faul said. “It gives it that really unique vibe that people don’t often see in this area.”

A sculpture of Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of agave, watches over the upstairs bar.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Downstairs, the restaurant can seat 250 people between the dining room, bar and outside patio. The menu will replicate that of the original restaurant, which features Mexican staples like tacos, burritos and chimichangas. 

Faul said they’ll be sticking to their standard in the beginning, which includes training the wait staff on how to flip an avocado. The tableside guacamole service comes with a show. 

“It’s not a boring show,” Faul said. “They crack jokes and have fun with it.”

The drink menu offers entertainment, too. Faul called the fugeito the “perfect social media experience.” The spicy raspberry margarita is served tableside in a smoking dome that has to be lifted up to take the first sip. 

The restaurant will also extend the nightlife scene at Waterside Place. Surrounding establishments are closed by midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, Agave Bandido will be open until 2 a.m. 

Baum and Faul wanted to create a late-night spot, not just for diners coming from restaurants with earlier hours, but also for the bartenders and servers who are leaving work and want someplace to go. 

“Celebrations are huge here, too.” Faul said. “We hype it up for them. Sparklers go out to the table and the entire place will get into a birthday celebration. I can’t stress it enough, everything is about our experience.” 



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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