Editor's note: The author of this article is very, very fond of Agave & Rye, especially the margs and housemade guac.
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Yavonne Sarber said her restaurant's Covington location will always be her “OG.”
When Sarber and her husband opened Agave & Rye on Madison Avenue in 2018, she had no idea its wild success would lead to the opening of two more locations the following year, including a second Cincinnati-area location in Liberty Township.
“I’ll be darned if immediately it exploded,” she said.
A third Cincy-area Agave & Rye will open in the foreseeable future in Oakley. (Sarber isn’t releasing the location or date just yet.) An Agave & Rye just opened in Lexington in June, and plans are in motion to open a spot in Louisville.
But Sarber said the other locations won't be quite like her OG.
“Nothing compares ... you've got such a diverse community, and they’re all so supportive of Covington in general,” Sarber said.
The Liberty Township location, expected to open in October, will occupy the former Cantina Laredo in Liberty Center.
Sarber said some artistic elements will be different, but “you’re gonna know it’s an Agave & Rye.”
Sarber has an extensive background in interior design, and she works closely with a group of Columbus-based artists on each of the restaurants’ canvas work, murals and graffiti. No detail is forgotten, down to textured finishes on the walls.
Patrons can expect the same feel -- which Sarber describes as “unique, urban, funky, chic with a tad of grunge” -- in every restaurant, but the actual art will be specifically created for each location.
Sarber said the concept for Agave & Rye was born from a passion for true fine dining and French technique, where everything is fresh and meticulously prepared, even the sauces.
“We found through the years it seems as though the trend, people are looking for a much more approachable experience when they’re dining … with less pretension,” Sarber said.
So Sarber cultivated an odd but delightful marriage: French dining in a taco. The idea made sense, she said, because there’s very little that doesn’t taste good in a taco.
Agave & Rye’s menu features traditional Mexican street tacos and “Epic” tacos that include The Crown Jewel (truffle mac n’ cheese and lobster), The Sensei (soy and ginger kangaroo, hosin and rice noodles) and, my personal favorite, The Swipe Right (honey lime grilled chicken, sweet and spicy bacon, aged white cheddar, salsa and sour cream).
The street tacos are a new addition to the lineup and have been met with rave reviews.
“I think that everyone at the table can get what they want,” Sarber said.
Another welcomed change: Sarber said they started making fresh juice mixes for their margaritas about six months ago.
“I’m a margarita drinker myself, so we worked on that for a while,” she said.
And if you’re a margarita drinker too, you’re gonna love this: Agave & Rye is working on frozen margs.
But perfecting the margarita is serious business, so don’t expect this frozen delicacy anytime soon.
“Our challenge is, they have to be fresh, so we’re playing with some things right now that might be a game changer on the margarita side,” Sarber said.