Cafe Society

Torta Grill serves up traditional, low-octane torteria drinks

At Ay Caramba!, the spot in Cherry Creek I review this week, you can get four kinds of cerveza on draft, not to mention a chelada (Tecate with lime juice), toro (Negra Modelo with limemade and citrus vodka) and a paloma (tequila and grapefruit juice). But more traditional low-octane libations are scant, so for those I head to Torta Grill, another entrant in the city's growing torteria scene. See also: - Torta Grill opens on East Colfax - Ay Caramba! review: These Mexican sandwiches could use some torta reform - Photos: A closer look at Ay Caramba!

Here you'll find the traditional drink known as horchata, a sweet, cloudy beverage fashioned from rice and cinnamon that tastes like a liquid snickerdoodle. You'll also find freshly made juices such as watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumber lemonade (my favorite), all slightly pulpy from the big chunks of fruit added to the blender while your meat is sizzling and rolls are crisping on the griddle.

Like many torterias, the place is low on frills. I've never seen anyone eating at the handful of counter seats or on the noisy patio along East Colfax Avenue, but I have seen lots of happy people walking out, bags of chicken, steak, chorizo or egg tortas in hand, slurping fresh juices out of Big Gulp-sized cups to prepare their mouths for the chipotle-induced burn they know is about to come.

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz