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Food Fight: Horchata

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To go anywhere near horchata, you've just gotta like sweet, and we're not talking your average every day soda-sweet or fruit juice-sweet, but a sweetness that causes a reflexive pucker almost in the same way as something sour. If you can deal, horchata is for you.

If you haven't heard of it, horchata is a typically rice-based, milk-like drink, often sweetened with cinnamon and occasionally other spices. It is one of several "aguas frescas" served in many Mexican restaurants (the others typically being jamaica and tamarindo). Different Latin American countries have make different variations of the drink.

Here's what came of a recent match-up between two Mexican horchatas:

Pancho Villa's 16oz small horchata will set you back only $1.50 and it's an assault of sweet from Sip Numero Uno. It has the faint, slightly mealy (there's really no other word for it, but don't confuse this mealy with apple-mealy) texture that all good horchatas have. The consistency could be compared to skim milk.

Los Ocampo's horchata sits in what can best be described as a small basin at the front of the restaurant. The small costs 25 cents more than Pancho Villa's and is a smidge less sweet, a smidge thicker and has more flavor in addition to a tasty, cinnamon-y sediment lining the bottom of the cup.

The Winner: Los Ocampo's horchata is richer, more flavorful and more like a traditional horchata than Pancho Villa's, which, while sweet and refreshing, lacked depth and character. The only puzzling thing about Los Ocampo's horchata is that it came without ice. Ice is key to a good horchata, melting and cutting the sweetness as you drink.

Pancho Villa's 2539 Nicollet Ave Mpls 612.871.7014

Los Ocampo 809 E. Lake St. Mpls 612.825.4978‎