Agua Dulce is More Sour than Sweet
The closing of El Guapos left a pretty big void in the local Tex-Mex scene, with corporate chains like El Fenix and On the Border being some of the options left. Denton is home to endless taco options, and plenty of authentic Mexican cuisine, but for Tex-Mex lovers the pickings are slim.
I am really lucky to have spent most of my time on the other side of the dining experience at several different smaller and / or family-owned-businesses, and I avoid eating at chains whenever possible to support small business owners in order to contribute to local commerce. Having spent several years as a broke college student and even more as a broke college graduate, working for different Tex-Mex restaurants and I developed a strong adoration for the cuisine, so I was legitimately PUMPED when I saw that Sweetwater had reinvented itself as Agua Dulce, but unfortunately was sorely disappointed with the transformation.
The ambiance created at Agua Dulce is your stereotypical experience of your go-to Tex Mex, and there isn’t anything wrong with this. The table cloths are festive and colorful, the decorations on the wall are the same you’d find anywhere, and surprisingly enough the salt and pepper shakers actually aren’t Coronita bottles. But when the waitress (who was lovely and did a wonderful job) brought out our chips and salsa, it didn’t set a very good tone that the chips weren’t warmed even the slightest. Even the second basket we got later in the meal was cooler than room temperature, but as an optimist I chalked it up to grand opening oversight and looked forward to the rest of the meal.
Now, the best part of a house margarita is that you can taste the tequila that went into its conception. So I ordered a house frozen but when delivered, the contents of the mug had already started melting, which meant the glass had been filled at room temperature (or warmer) so the mugs weren’t being kept cold, and it tasted more like a virgin margarita with the texture of an awful slushee. My roommate had ordered a house margarita on the rocks, and though hers had the slightest tang of alcohol, it was still more reminiscent of a mocktail than an actual cocktail. Needless to say, we did something we never do, and sent the drinks back to be replaced with beers.
After getting over the disappointment that there was no queso (what?!) on the appetizer menu, we ordered the fried jalapenos. For $8, we recieved a very empty-looking basket containing four extra crispy Jalapenos. Four. They didn’t look appetizing, but filled with chorizo and mixed cheese, they actually tasted pretty good. But with that price tag, I would have expected a few more and a little more thought in the presentation.
The chillier weather had us craving comfort food, so we each then ordered the cheese enchiladas. At $11 for something so simple, you’d expect a full plate of food, but what showed up was two single corn tortillas, each half filled with shredded cheese, on a plate that was three quarters filled with refried black beans and seasoned Mexican rice. My roommates' plate wasn’t garnished, and at this point in the meal we were so disheartened with the experience we really just wanted to eat what we had and be done. The enchilada sauce was delicious, but the whole presentation of the plate was disappointing and the enchiladas felt more like an afterthought than the actual main part of the meal.
Needless to say, we didn’t bother with dessert. The service was great, our waitress did a fantastic job, but Agua Dulce just doesn't fill the void left by El Guapos and isn't a Tex-Mex place to get excited about. The prices don’t match the plates, the margaritas left much to desire, and we both left with no plans of returning. Hopefully it’s just the result of a quick turnaround, or maybe the kitchen had an off day, and my experience isn’t everyone’s; I just hope Agua Dulce can become something much more.
Header image by Brittany Keeton