Friday, April 9, 2010

Aguas Frescas at Las Tortugas

I don't know much about much, but every once in a while I feel the need to clarify something. This time it has to do with a somewhat recent post in the Westword's Cafe Society regarding El Taco Veloz and its aguas frescas. Now, El Taco Veloz is of course famous in my little private world for having the best and most authentic tacos al pastor that I have tried thus far in Denver. This, as you may already know, is very important to me. When I saw Taco Veloz listed on the Westword 100 Favorite Dishes, I assumed that they were finally getting their propers for just that. The post starts out lauding the pastor, and so it was with a great amount of surprise to learn that it was being praised for its aguas frescas. (Yesterday I was pleased to see Taco Veloz voted best taco by the Westword, so all is right with the world again.)

It's all about the taco al pastor at Taco Veloz

Say what? I mean, the aguas frescas are good, and yes, they have some harder to find flavors. It is not, however, a place I would consider going out of my way to get an agua fresca. It's not just that the Westword thinks that the aguas frescas are good, which they are, but it is the fact that they write that this is what sets Taco Veloz apart from the other taco joints.

This is undebatably wrong on two levels. First, what sets Taco Veloz apart are its tacos al pastor. Second, if you drive South on Federal, take a left on Alameda and find your way down to Las Tortugas, you find aguas frescas that are indeed worth going out of your way to get.


I won't say that Las Tortugas are necessarily the best, though I have yet to see another place in Denver that makes them to order and serves them this fresh. Just like they are true to their Mexico City roots in their torta-making, so are their aguas frescas. In Mexico, there are any number of fruit stands that will blend up to order any combination of fruit and/or vegetable with water and sugar. Las Tortugas does just that, and they do it well.

My favorite at Las Tortugas is the Crazy Agua, which is a blend of fresh strawberries, fresh-squeezed orange juice and fresh pineapple chunks made while you wait (and you will wait when eating here). It is also where I can go to get my cucumber-juice fix, which I like with a little lime. This is absolutely one of the most refreshing drinks I have ever had.


The possibilities are endless. Beets, for example, are great with any number of fruits or vegetables. Beet, apple, orange and carrot together are delicious. So is pure melon juice, or pure strawberry, as is mentioned in the Westword post. At Taco Veloz you have to cross your fingers for that one to be on tap, at Las Tortugas, it is there whenever you want it, and made to order as well.

Now I don't mean to disrespect Taco Veloz at all. It is my taco haven. Without it, there would be a large void in my taco-loving organs. And their aguas frescas are very good, going above and beyond many taco joints that only have the pre-mixed horchata, agua de tamarindo and jamaica (hibiscus). The last time I was there, I had a great agua de melon which was full of little bits of cantaloupe and honeydew. And also no disrespect to the Westword, who has the difficult job of reporting on everything food (without a food critic), and trying to pick out the gems. OK, I'm done. Go to Las Tortugas for some of the best aguas frescas you will have and certainly for the best torta.

Las Tortugas can be enjoyed in Aurora, 712 Peoria St. or in Denver, 1549 W Alameda --now with a sign!
El Veloz Taco on UrbanspoonLas Tortugas on Urbanspoon

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