With established locations in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Alabama, Agave & Rye makes its first foray into the Circle City (a New Albany, Indiana, spot opened in 2021). The newest kid on the block sits directly across Delaware Street from CityWay, just south of Gainbridge Fieldhouse, making it a no-brainer for Pacers pre- or post-game dinner and drinks. Be prepared—this place is loud on the ears and the eyes, in a fun way. Decor evokes a bordello-meets-street-art vibe—all sparkling chandeliers, vibrant wall murals, neon graffitied ductwork, and booming background music. In short, it looks, sounds, and feels like a party in here.
Drinks first. The beverage menu proposes a nice selection of tequila (natch) and whiskey, highlighting a dozen or so house cocktails. Our server’s recommendation for the New Fashioned turned out to be a good one, updating the classic bourbon sipper with almond bitters and Luxardo cherries and swapping in agave syrup for the traditional sugar.
Starters cover several chip-and-dip permutations along with some intriguing Big and Little Munchies, like birria Irish nachos, mac and cheese beignets, and carne asada egg rolls. The house queso con chorizo arrives with a flavorful sprinkling of crumbled sausage and thick tortilla chips sturdy enough to scoop without worry of breaking. Piquant elote is served cut off the cob, smart for sharing, but with the cob and husk included on the plate for presentation purposes (and whoever might want to fight over the chance to gnaw any remaining charred kernels off the end). Even the professed mayo-haters in my party loved this dish. The cheekily named Epic Tacos are really the star of the show, double-wrapped in crunchy corn and soft-flour tortillas for the best of both worlds. It’s a genius move, as the flour tortilla cushions the corn tortilla inside and catches any fillings that might threaten to escape with each bite.
We sampled the Filthy Fajita, a hearty assembly of grilled steak with onions, peppers, mushrooms, and melted cheese. The Cheesy Amigo was piled so high with al pastor pork, avocado, cheese, and chopped pineapple, it required a few preliminary bites with a fork in order to even pick up without everything falling out. The popular Alderman was the spiciest of the three tacos we tasted, boasting carne asada steak with cotija cheese, corn salad, and a chili de arbol salsa. All tacos are served a la carte (about $7 to $13 each) without the automatic rice and refried bean accompaniments you get at most Mexican eateries, although you can order them as sides. With a starter, one or two tacos is easily enough to satisfy average appetites. Nothing tasted heavy or greasy, just fresh and flavorful. The menu also details decent vegetarian, vegan, and Not a Taco options.
Desserts are limited to slices of Big Sis chocolate or carrot cake, and something called a Salty Pimp ice cream taco. Remember those iconic Choco Tacos you’d chase down the ice cream truck for back in the day? This is the grown-up version with salted-caramel ice cream, a thick chocolate topping, and crunchy candy pearls in a cone-like taco shell. One small complaint: The actual table at our booth seemed a bit small and too far from the seats, filling up quickly once our food started to arrive. Still, my dining trio left feeling pleasantly full and satisfied, but not stuffed, with no leftovers to spare. 336 S. Delaware St., 463-257-8226, agaveandrye.com