Horchata from Tacos Atoyac

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: Horchata from Tacos Atoyac

¿Como se dice?: Not every Mexican joint has a full bar of aguas frescas, but even the most rinky dink of restaurants will likely carry horchata. Generally it's horchata de arroz they have on tap, a rice-based, milky cinnamon drink -- although horchata is a general term used to describe just about any grain- or nut-based agua. In addition to rice, oatmeal, walnuts and pecans can also be blended into a creamy, frothy, refreshing beverage. Not all horchata is created equal, and we look to Tacos Atoyac for their thirst-quenching take on this cinnamon rice milk.

(Sink your teeth into all the spicy details after the jump.)

La Comida: Horchata from Tacos Atoyac, a cold and creamy rice beverage sprinkled with little bits of cantaloupe and pecan pieces. Depending on the day you go, you may also get papaya bits or other fruity goodness.

And if you're looking for a cup-o-horchata that walks a bit on the wild side, hit up La Condesa. Theirs is a nutty, fruity smoothie-like version of horchata packed with strawberries, cantaloupe and pecan pieces. You'll spend as much time chewing your horchata as drinking it.

El Sabor: A good glass of horchata is the equivalent of drinking fragrant and sweet rice pudding, without all the pesky chewing. (Usually.) The good thing about horchata is that it's a non-dairy drink, so even the lactose-intolerant among us can indulge in this crisp and refreshing aguas fresco. The milky appearance of horchata is due to the blended rice, and you can make it with all sorts of arroz, including nutty wild rice.

The spices added to horchata are what take this beverage past regular rice milk, and a fragrant glass of horchata will taste as good as it smells. Cinnamon is the only hard and fast requirement, but some places also add vanilla, cloves, lime zest, or star anise for a richer flavor profile. Try Ranch Pro Market for some of the more creative twists on horchata, like the walnut aguas frescas.

Bring a bit of México to your kitchen: Homemade horchata is crazy-easy to make. It's like the sun tea version of an aguas frescas. Pulverize your rice of choice and toss in your aromatics with a bit a sweetener. Let sit overnight and you've got horchata!

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

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Erica O'Neil