What: Agave Taco Bar
Where: 2217 E Mississippi Ave, Denver, CO 80210
When: Open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.
For more info: Visit agavetacobar.com
Getting in and getting booze: If there’s one thing I missed as much as happy hour during the pandemic, it's taco Tuesdays. Getting carryout tacos is like getting a to-go eggs Benedict or fries: They exponentially decay to the point of inedible by the time you get them home. So I’m delighted to see the return of fresh, cheap tacos delivered tableside. Finding such a deal in Wash Park, where dining out is often beyond my budget, is a particular perk.
Though my friend and I missed out on the coveted patio spots, we were still able to snag seats indoors at 5:45 p.m., just under the happy hour wire. With the doors open and cool mist from the patio drifting inside, it almost felt as if we were dining al fresco.
Service was quick and smooth from the start, and we were able to order $6 margaritas, a $10 flight of tequila (compared to a whopping $16 outside of happy hour) and an order of nachos for $5, all off the happy hour menu. Admittedly, the tequila flight felt a little over-the-top for a Tuesday, but we were there to report, so report we did. Alcohol content aside, Agave’s flights are a nice intro to tequila classifications as the three pours of reposado, añejo and extra añejo are delivered on a custom wooden tray that describes the process behind how each is made. The sidecar of diced pineapple was a nice touch for those looking to curb the intensity.
Despite the somewhat tacky “skinny” tag on the menu, Agave’s margs are made from scratch and pack more of a citrus than sugary or corn-syrupy punch (hence the claim). The jalapeño version gives a tingle to the tongue without whacking you in the face with heat, and a salt rim is optional on either of the two happy hour options (another pair of marg possibilities can be found on the regular drinks menu for $10 to $12).
But Tuesday it was, so tacos were a must; it's not often you score a double deal at a restaurant, after all. Every Tuesday, all day, you can order chicken tinga con papas, rajas (roasted chili strips) con queso y elote, quinoa y calabaza, and carnitas tacos for $2 each. By 6 p.m., the kitchen had run out of the carnitas — they must be a fan favorite — but given how loaded the hand-pressed corn tortillas with the vegetarian toppings were, I think the meat-motivated might be missing out.
In addition to chili strips, the rajas taco comes piled with roasted corn, tomato, shredded kale, sour cream and a healthy helping of queso fresco. The quinoa ditches the corn and tomatoes for black bean purée, butternut squash and pico de gallo offering a hefty-yet-healthy mouthfeel. My friend found the rich, stewed chicken tinga to be tender with "an appropriate level of spice," but I was jonesing for a little more pep and some garnish. In the end, we left replete and ready for a nap, but nothing a walk around the park couldn’t cure.
Along with happy hour and the $2 taco Tuesdays, Agave also has $6 margaritas all day on Mondays and bottomless mimosas for $13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
While the tacos were satisfying, they can't stand up to some of the standouts a bit farther away on Federal Boulevard, but find yourself near the park on Tuesday during happy hour, and you’re in for a fine affair.