Birria tacos: You can believe the hype

The Birria, three Slow-Braised Beef with Guajillo Chilies, Oaxaca Cheese, Cilantro, Onion, Dipping Consommé.
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The Birria, three Slow-Braised Beef with Guajillo Chilies, Oaxaca Cheese, Cilantro, Onion, Dipping Consommé.

The culinary trend is just one of the delicious choices at Agave & Rye

Birria tacos are one of the hottest culinary trends across the country right now.

A quick Google search tells the story ...

The New York Times: “The Birria Boom Is Complicated, but Simply Delicious: With infinite variations, the regional Mexican stew is now a TikTok and Instagram star in Los Angeles and beyond.”

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Eater.com: “The Great Birria Boom: How two Mexican-American birrieros made the beloved dish a sensation in America.”

Philly Magazine: “Birria Is Everywhere Right Now: How social media brought us one of Mexico’s greatest dishes.”

New Jersey Digest: “Why Birria Tacos Are the Next Big Trend.”

Hello Louisville: “Tried birria tacos at I Love Tacos yet? They live up to the hype.”

88Nine: “How birria tacos took Milwaukee by storm.”

The hype is big and it is warranted.

These amazing street tacos can be made with goat, lamb or, in the States, beef. They are slow cooked until the meat melts in your mouth and the taco is then dipped in broth and griddled. It’s usually served with a broth for dipping.

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On a recent trip to Agave & Rye in Troy, I ordered their birria tacos (3 for $12.75) made with corn tortilla dipped in house chili oil and grilled. The slow-braised beef with guajillo chilies, Oaxaca cheese, cilantro and onion is the best $12.75 I’ve spent dining out in a while. The tacos are served with a dreamy dipping consommé that I couldn’t stop lapping up. Order these tacos for dinner and get an extra order to go. They are that good.

It’s like a Mexican pot roast grilled cheese served with the best au jus you’ve ever had.

Agave & Rye's Birria Tacos
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Agave & Rye's Birria Tacos

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The restaurant itself is a hodgepodge of styles and looks and art, and so is the menu. It’s interesting and provocative both on the eyes and the taste buds, as Troy sees something very, very different move into an anchor spot on the square.

The restaurant has 19 epic tacos to choose from. Some of the tacos sound like a flavor gamble, but most of them are a gamble and win scenario.

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Newer entries to the menu include The Love Shack, made with barbacoa pork, bacon bourbon BBQ bean love cushion, corn salad, chili de arbol, sweet and spicy bacon ($7.75, gluten-free); The Snitch III, made with beer-battered mahi mahi, spicy avocado and honey slaw, pickled red onion ($7.75); The Yoda, made with sweet and spicy chicken, Chef Rob’s kung pao sauce, peanuts, sticky rice and crispy carrots ($6.50, gluten-free); and The Good Wolf, made with barbacoa pork, sticky rice, pineapple-mango habanero salsa ($6.75, gluten-free).

The Love Shack is a great example of a winning taco as each savory layer of flavor is well executed.

Agave & Rye Epic Tacos
Caption
Agave & Rye Epic Tacos

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The most expensive taco on the menu is The Crown Jewel ($11.50), made with butter-poached lobster, shiitake mushrooms, mac ‘n’ cheese, truffle oil and shavings and shaved green onions. It’s a big, savory flavor train.

All of the epic tacos are served on a double shell with crunchy corn and soft flour tortilla. A “love cushion” can be added between the two shells for a $1 each. Filling options are bourbon bacon BBQ beans, queso, pimento or guacamole.

The restaurant has a list of “little munchies” and chips and dips, but proceed with caution as you will want to save room for the main course.

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Regardless of what you order, you’ll need to throw calorie-counting out the window.

If you’re a fan of elote, Agave & Rye’s is worth ordering, topped generously with Cotija cheese, serrano aioli, tajin, cilantro and fresh squeezed lime, and it’s cut from the cob to make eating easier. It’s $5.50 for just one ear of corn, but it was a beautiful presentation and the flavor was just right.

Agave & Rye's Elote
Caption
Agave & Rye's Elote

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The margaritas are also on point. The OG Margarita ($10 regular, $18 epic size, $31 pitcher) is made with silver tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice, sugar, water and “secrets.” They are potent and refreshing and for an additional $1 you can add peach, strawberry, passion fruit, prickly pear, raspberry, blackberry, mango, watermelon. They have an Agave Epic Rita ($12 regular, $19 epic size, $35 pitcher), but I preferred the more classic version. They also serve a habanero margarita ($12) made with silver tequila, hibiscus jugo, fresh ginger, fresh lime juice, habanero and sugar water, and a jalapeño pineapple rita ($12). There’s a full bar, and an expansive list of 87 tequilas and 87 bourbons and whisky, as well as plenty of beer and other house cocktail options.

If you’re looking for wine, this isn’t the place for it with five canned wine options.

The restaurant, which opened at the end of last year, took over the spot that La Piazza Italian restaurant sat in for decades and it is unrecognizable from the old space. During our last Agave & Rye trip we had one of the friendliest and most helpful waitresses we’ve had in a long time. If Natausha Walters waits on you, thank your lucky stars as she was really fantastic. Agave & Rye uses a card system with “Just Chillin’” on one side when all of your needs have been met and “Hola!” when you need service. That seemed to work very well, but Walters was the kind of waitress that didn’t need prompting. She was really terrific.

Taco Tuesdays happen all day every Tuesday with $6 OG Margaritas, $6 bourbon peach punch, $2 domestic cans, $2.50 Plain Jane tacos, $3 Bees Knees (honey lime grilled chicken, mango habanero, Cowboy Candy and pico) and Bang Bang tacos (crispy cauliflower, corn fritters, queso, spicy crispy carrots), $4 Alderman tacos (Carne asada steak, street corn salad, Cotija cheese, spicy chile de arbol salsa) and $3 for chips and queso.

Whiskey Wednesdays feature $6 bourbon peach punch, $6 bourbon, black cherry and mango-habanero slushies and $2 off all whiskey and bourbon pours. Food specials are $3 for carne asada egg rolls, $4 Bama Jamma tacos (Alabama-white BBQ chicken, andouille sausage, roasted corn, tobacco onions) and $6 Epic Burgers (two beef patties, BBQ sauce, sweet and spicy bacon, queso, tobacco onions, fresh tomatoes and dill pickles on a brioche bun.

If it all sounds good, it’s because it is. But don’t get too distracted by the menu and the choices — the birria tacos are where it’s at.

HOW TO GO

What: Agave & Rye

Where: 2 N. Market St., Troy

Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

More information: (937) 741-8226 or agaveandrye.com

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.