Aguas Frescas from Any Mexican Place Worth Its Sal

Tacos may very well be the perfect food, but let's face it, the standard Meximerican fare can get a bit stale after a while. Taco the Town is here to highlight some of the more unusual Mexican finds in the valley.

This week: Aguas Frescas.

¿Como se dice?: Aguas frescas literally translate to "fresh waters" in English, and are mucho refreshing. Since ice can sometimes be a hot commodity south of the border, a tall glass of something cold and fruity (with maybe a hit of cream) can be instant relief from a blazing summer day. It's just as efficient when the mercury starts to rise here in the Valley, and any Mexican place worth its salt (sal) will have a variety of aguas on the menu.

(check out our favorite aguas after the jump)

La Comida: Aguas frescas generally shake out into three categories: fresh and fruity or smooth and creamy. 

Fresh and fruity aguas can be made from sweet or tart frutas that are blended with water and sugar. They are then either strained to create a clear, jewel-toned beverage reminiscent of koolaid (but way better), like Ranch Pro Market's impressive and colorful selection. Or a place can leave their aguas just a bit on the pulpy side, like Los Reyes de la Torta. (And if you're feeling a bit frisky, Gallo Blanco serves up a damn fine spiked agua.)

If you've graduated from the intro aguas flavors, consider trying jamaica, a bright red beverage made from hibiscus flowers. Hell, even Filibertos carries this tasty treat, so the next time you're on a 2am burrito run expand your horizons a bit.

Fruity aguas that have evaporated milk added to them for a richer, smoother finish are aguas de leche, and can sometimes be called cremosas if they're a bit thicker in texture. These aguas often include strawberry (fresa), mango, or guava (guayaba) flavors. Check out any of the La Salsita locations around the valley for a glass of fresas con leche, or swing back by Los Reyes de la Torta where there are a ton of cremosas on the menu.

Bring a bit of México to your kitchen: The variety of aguas are limited only by what's in your pantry, although most traditional flavors trend toward the tropical: mango, guava, tamarind, pineapple, and watermelon are all easy ways to replicate the flavors of a much needed vacay. Aguas are fairly easy to make, with most flavors following a similar method of preparation: Blend, strain, and serve over ice. Recipes for sandia, tamarindo, pina, y fresa can all be easily found online, but we would suggest trying something outside the box, or jug if you will. As the Fahrenheit slowly starts creeping upward, give refreshing cucumber (pepino), prickly pear (atun), or hibiscus flower (jamaica) aguas frescas a whirl. 

Know of any Mexican gems in the Valley? Reveal your secrets in the comment section.