Clamato is big business in Western cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles, but the over-the top beverages called Clamatos preparados that use the clam-flavored tomato drink are just beginning to pop up around Denver. I stopped in at La Changada and Clamatos Chuper Vasos last week to check out the scene, but a reader quickly pointed out that I had missed a favorite: Clamatos La Cura.
My oversight was understandable, though, as La Cura is a seasonal Clamatos stand that only sets up on weekends in an Advanced Auto Parts parking lot at West Alameda Avenue and Tejon Street. Owner Victor Haro says he opened La Cura last year because he couldn't find good Clamatos preparados after moving here from Los Angeles for his day job. After a permanent location for La Cura fell through (the strip-mall spot he had found changed owners, who wanted nearly twice the rent amount), he set up his roadside station and is now in the process of adding a second in Aurora. During the winter, he shut down the street stand and delivered orders to thirsty customers.
Haro says the secret of his preparados is a homemade tomato base with more than ten different spices. He also doesn't dilute his drinks with agua mineral (sparkling mineral water), and his carne seca is made to order by a nearby carniceria. La Cura's Facebook page is updated frequently with the location and "sold-out" messages for regular customers. Haro still hopes to open a brick-and-mortar space, but says that business has been so good with his outdoor stand that he had to stop taking delivery orders and has hired an additional employee.
A mile or so away, at 3137 West Alameda Avenue, Clamatos El Caribe also opened recently, serving seafood cocktails and soups as well as the salty, addictive preparados. Clamatos are hot-weather thirst-quenchers, so more mobile vendors could pop up this summer — just in time to put up or clam up.