Agave & Rye

Kate Horning | Photos by Keni Parks


Agave & Rye, a Tequila and Bourbon Hall based out of Covington, Kentucky recently opened their Lexington location as the second spot in a major nation- wide expansion. As you walk through the doors of the funky restaurant, you quick- ly understand why their growth has been so rapid. Co-owner Yavonne Sarber, one

half of the husband/wife team that created the unique concept, describes the decor of the restaurant as "urban- chic aesthetic, with its grungy side, but polished-up." Everything from original art, painted murals and hip graffiti, including skulls and crossbones and super chic, modern black and white stripes cover the interior walls. "We wanted the restaurant decor to be approachable for everything from a lunch break to a date night and even girls night out," comments Sarber. "Comfortable, energetic, eclectic, edgy, vibrant ... it's the perfect back- drop for our EPIC food."

Initially opening as a taco joint featuring their unique tacos as well as chips and dips the menu has evolved based on feedback from their guests. Their offerings now include more shareable items such as the Guaca Fries topped with smashed avocado sauce, white cheddar and spicy chipotle crema. The Crispy Brussels Sprouts, an- other popular dish, is drizzled with dijon aioli, sliced almonds and parmesan. Then there are the not-to-be- missed Chicharrones, crispy pork skins sprinkled with magic dust and drizzled with spicy chipotle crema.

"A taco is the perfect vessel for pretty much anything." If you're visiting Agave and Rye and looking for something a bit more on the wild side, you may want to give their Crown Jewel a try. This over-the-top taco features butter- poached lobster, sauteed mushrooms, truffle mac and cheese and green onions. Another unique option is the Sensei, a combination of soy-ginger marinated kangaroo tenderloin topped with sticky orange rum glaze, crispy rice noodles, fresh bibb lettuce, spicy chili oil, and thin-sliced green onion. "Kangaroo is as popular in Australia as cows are here," mentions Sarber. If you're looking for something more conven- tional, the Plain Jane taco, a combination of ground beef, shredded lettuce, aged white cheddar, diced tomato and sour cream, might be up your alley. The fan-favorite taco, the Swipe Right, a taco filled with honey-lime chicken, sweet and spicy bacon, aged white cheddar, salsa and sour cream lives up to its clever name. "Everyone says yes to it," laughs Sarber.

"We also added the Gator Hater, a homage to our Lexington location, to the menu and people are loving it," shares Sarber. "Plus, tacos are so affordable; it's a great opportunity to try new things. If you don't love it, we can have a different taco served quickly. We strive to have some- thing for everyone." says Sarber.

The entree bowls are another recent addition to the menu and are perfect for those who might not be in a taco kind of mood. While the food and decor are most likely the focal points of the restaurant, as the name highlights, they're also quite passionate about their equally epic libations. With an extensive list of both bourbon and tequila as well as a mouthwatering, handcrafted cocktail menu, it may be hard to pass up something to sip on with your meal. Fortunately, they have a fantastic happy hour daily as well as weekly specials. Margarita Monday and Taco Tuesday specials mean anyone can leave with a full belly and enjoy a hand-squeezed cocktail for under $20. "We're also launching our frozen margaritas made with fresh-squeezed lime juice. It took us a while to develop that recipe, but we're excited about it," shares Sarber.

"Our mission at Agave and Rye is to provide a dining experience unlike any other. Alongside the food, service and atmosphere we offer exceptional service and outstanding energy," mentions Sarber. And with that kind of mission, it's certainly worth a visit to give their crave-worthy tacos and fresh-squeezed margaritas a try!