Aguas Way is where two worlds collide: The family-run Mexican street food spot selling the classics you crave and the cool, modern (dare I say hip?) eatery where you hang out on an outdoor patio, drink in hand.
The restaurant (5248 Long Beach Blvd.) is unexpected, but completely welcome in North Long Beach. Local Leoh Sandoval opened it just over a month ago and enlisted his family — probably his entire family — to help run the place. The close ties are obvious and endearing. You’ll probably hear the woman at the front counter laugh about working with her husband who’s grilling in the kitchen. Ask about the aguas frescas and you’ll likely get an anecdote about the family matriarch. There is a lot of love here.
It’s in the restaurant’s details, too. The clean, contemporary design, large tables and great back patio are inviting. A fish tank greets diners at the door.
The most obvious thing to do when you walk in is try some aguas frescas. Aguas frescas are simple drinks, yet Aguas Way has perfected the balance of fruit, sugar and water that makes them transcendent and ridiculously refreshing. A colorful fence of the juices surround the staff behind the counter who are more than happy to offer small tastes of all of the flavors. And you will want to taste them all. Sandoval’s mother makes them fresh every morning.
The classic tamarind agua fresca features the familiar sourness characteristic of the fruit and is absolutely addicting. On the sweeter side, the strawberry is tempting with tons of fruit floating around a pink pool, waiting to be scooped into your cup. My favorite has to be the pepino con limon, an invigorating blend of tart lemon and cucumber, and my new favorite thirst-quenching, warm-weather drink. The staff here takes their aguas frescas seriously — they’ll ask if you want ice, since the added water can dilute the fruit flavor. I prefer just a little bit.
The food menu is made up of various loaded French fries, tacos and a few other snacks like nachos and flautas. The classic carne asada fries do not disappoint. A mountain of fries, stuck together with melted cheese, comes with a stack of carne asada, pico de gallo and guacamole — just what you expect and want. There also are chicken, buffalo, chili-cheese and garlic options.
Tacos currently are sold Thursdays through Sundays, so on my visits I wasn’t able to taste them. I did get to try the chicken flautas, which give me high hopes for the tacos. Normally not something to rave about, the flautas here are excellent: freshly fried and crispy, with warm chicken filling.
Also noteworthy: champurrado and cafe de olla. The two hot, sweet Mexican drinks can serve as dessert on the awesome back patio, or accompany you to Selah Vie Thrift and Trade, just doors down from Aguas Way, for treasure hunting.