Drink of the Week: Maria’s Mexican Restaurant’s Horchata

Maria's Mexican Restaurant's Horchata.
Rob Galloway / Tahoe Daily Tribune

In our Drink of the Week segment, we’ll showcase one unique type of beer, wine, cocktail — you name it — to try at one of the countless breweries, bars and restaurants from around the basin.

Before this column gets too far out of control, I do want to make it known this particular drink does not contain alcohol. This is not the first non-alcoholic drink we’ve featured here, but if that completely bums you out, I do have a suggestion. This is a perfect candidate for takeout to take home where it can party with a little splash of vodka from the cupboard. There. Problem solved. Now, on to the drink.

If you are wondering just exactly what the heck horchata is, it’s a traditional Mexican drink made up of white rice soaked in water then flavored with a little cinnamon and sweetness. Yes, there are variations, and I have no idea what the secret recipe Maria’s kitchen is rockin’, but they’re making it from scratch and newsflash: it’s delicious.

The smell when diving in is definitely hitting on all cinnamon cylinders, but also has a lighter milk-like smell. It’s comforting, like it wants to reach out and give you a big bear hug for taking the time to indulge.

The taste is smooth, almost ethereal, and sweet. Perhaps the best way I can describe is like the leftover milk from a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but fresher, not as heavy, and not quite as sweet. I’ve proclaimed my love for leftover cereal milk before, so this was right up my alley.

If I had this on tap in our kitchen, I’m fairly certain I’d be tapping a new keg at least every week. In other words, kids will love this. No, I did not have my kids try it, but having four, you definitely get a feel for what strikes gold in those little taste buds.

I guess drinking this made me feel like a bit of kid, too. Which means if you ask my wife, she’ll probably agree she has five kids in the house.

Maria’s Mexican Restaurant is located at 2494 Lake Tahoe Blvd., in South Lake Tahoe. For menu, takeout and additional information visit them online at or give them a call at 530-600-2200.

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