Drink This Now: Taco María's Almond Horchata

“Is horchata good?” the cute gabacha asked me on Sunday as we waited for our respective orders from Taco María. Before I could answer, she followed up quickly: “What is horchata?”

As someone who has imbibed the rice-water drink his whole life, I always get surprise when people don't know what it is–and even more surprised when people don't like it. I explained it to her, noting some people don't like its saccharine tendencies–but then qualified the statement by declaring Taco María's almond horchata one of the best drinks in Orange County RIGHT NOW.

I had tasted chef Carlos Salgado's latest seasonal agua fresca the previous week, at the mini-clustertruck he and the Soho Taco guys had participated in the previous week at the Fullerton Library–DAMN, SON! It was a bit more watery than the horchata I usually like, but any doubts I might've had about the drink were quickly erased by two interesting ingredients: cilantro seeds and almonds. The seeds left a gorgeous toastiness that you can usually only find in Salvadoran-style horchata.

And the use of almond imparted a light creaminess that makes almond milk so darn tasty. This was horchata, but modified to make it even sweeter than usual–but not cloyingly so.

I got my horchata and used it to wash down Salgado's buttery esquite. The gabacha ordered the horchata. “Was it good?” I asked. She nodded her head in vigorous agreement. And then I saw that Salgado now has a coffee-flavored atole with Portola Coffee's assistance, and I thanked God anew the cabrón returned to his Orange County homeland.

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