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Desperatly seeking edible food in Mcallen, Texas

  • b


Last month I spent a few days in McAllen, Texas and will be returning there in a about 1 week and would love to know if ther are any good places to eat in McAllen as all that I came across were places like Dennys and Taco Bell!

Please help as I don't think that I can cope if this is all McAllen has to offer!

Many thanks
Biker Foodie

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  1. Biker Foodie,

    Just across the border in Reynosa is Tupinamba, which has excellent cabrito al pastor. As for McAllen proper, I've heard good things about Cueva's, but haven't been there myself.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Scott

      I've just been in McAllen, Tx.. had a great time... but would recommend The Republic of Texas - great atomsphere great food and of course great Margaritas... it's on 10th near the Overpass. Great food!

      1. re: Scott

        I just wanted to know, since you're talking about mcallen, i am going there for a few days, and wnted to know like home made food, or just food like the program man vs food, that type of meals will be perfect, if you have any places like that, let me know.

      2. Haven't been there for a year or so, but if it's still open, there's Espana Mediterranean restaurant, which I recall as being dinner-only. Also Bistro M and the Spanish Room for upscale seafood and steaks etc., Crucitas for Mexican lunch buffet and more ambitious dinners. If you don't mind going to Pharr, try Poncho Mexico Nuevo.

        1 Reply
        1. re: johnm

          I second Poncho Mexico Nuevo, very good.

        2. t

          My main food resource in McAllen is the Sahadi Cafe (and Gourmet Foods and Wine) 709 N. 10th St. (956) 682-341 www.sahadi.com They have an amazing fine wine store (by far the best in South Texas) and can probably give you advice on other good places to eat in the area.

          Also Iannelli Ristorante Italiano, 2316 N 10th St., McAllen, TX 78501, (956) 631-0666

          There are some other good restaurants in the north part of McAllen near the Barnes and Noble store; again, try asking for advice at Sahadi's.

          1. Not sure how you feel about BBQ, but the Original Willie B's in Alamo (Alamo is between Harlingen and McAllen off of Hwy. 83) has very good BBQ. And, I noticed that many of the people were ordering their Mexican options. . .but being from Dallas, I was craving some good BBQ.

            I had brisket, ribs, and sausage. All three of which were far better than anything I have had in Dallas. I make it a point to go there whenever I am in the Valley.

            3 Replies
            1. re: DFWGuy

              Hmm. I went to Willie B's the weekend before last. The brisket I got there was reasonably smoky, but dry and chewy. The ribs were about average. Neither really grabbed me.

              I noticed that a lot of the Hispanic customers were ordering the fajita taco, so I got one of those also. They barbecue the flank steak (with mesquite), then chop it and put it on a huge tortilla. It's at least two fistfuls of meat. The flank steak, on its own, was low sandwich grade--too dry and tough, but with pretty good smokiness and flavor. Chopping it makes the toughness less an issue. And adding some pico and drizzling a little of their sauce over the meat helps the dryness. So it actually made for a pretty tasty (and interesting) meal. (Picture below.)

              I was there at lunch time on a Saturday. Maybe I just got unlucky in the cut on the straightahead barbecue I ordered.


              Image: http://www.dallasfood.org/photos/lrgv...

              1. re: Scott


                I assume you were at the original, correct? If not, I have heard the other location is not quite as good. Nevertheless, I defer to your BBQ accumen.

                I think that taco your picture depicts is what I saw being ordered as well.

                1. re: DFWGuy


                  It was the original, now at the corner of S. Alamo and Bowie in Alamo. (See photo below.) I, too, had heard that the Edinburg location (which is now independently owned and operated) was inferior.

                  Willie's was well worth visiting, though. That barbecued flank steak taco was unique, tasty, and a bargain (at about $3, as I recall).


                  Image: http://www.dallasfood.org/photos/lrgv...

            2. Hello, Everyone:

              Just back from our first trip to McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley and ate at several places. The best was Costa Mesa in McAllen. Just great food, service, and room at a reasonable price. Not haute cuisine, but definitely a step up from a Mom and Pop operation. Arthuro's in Progresso, Mexico was also very nice with a menu that ranged from traditional Mexican dishes to upscale steaks, seafood, pasta - a nice room, too, with good, adult service. The Santa Fe Steakhouse in McAllen has a great wine list and (surprise) great beef but is fairly upscale in price. Uneven service.

              Last and certainly least was the highly self regarded Espana. We'd heard a lot of favorable buzz about this place and were looking forward to it, but it ranks with the worst dining experiences we've ever had anywhere in the world. The prices are simply outrageous with entries averaging around $45. You'd think you were in Manhattan. The service was just plain awful - like all those bad stereotypes of rude French waiters except these guys weren't French. The food was okay at $25, but not for this price and service. I would avoid this place like the plague and go to Costa Mesa five or six times instead. The attitude of the joint is simply insufferable anywhere, much less a nice place like McAllen.

              In summary, the best food experience was at Costa Mesa. Get the chorizo appetizer. It was served on a wood fired tin stove with a metal platter for the sausage, cheese, and garnishes. The chile relleno was fabulous. And, our server, Joshua, was fabulous. They also sell nice silver jewelry!

              And, you are warned about Espana. Ask around. Maybe folks have had better service and don't mind the over-pricing if it's a special dinner. Nice room, though. Great patio, too. If we hadn't been with a group, I'd have decked the main server and left after 10 minutes. Of course, I'd be in jail, but I'd be more satisfied.

              1. Also - whilst in South Texas I hopped across the border at Progreso, just south of Weslaco (go to the border, pay to park $2 and then walk across - don't drive you'll have to have other insurance for your rental car and it's a hassle) tolls to take the walking bridge are $.25 to leave the US and $.30 to leave Mexico, make sure you bring your passport and a shopping bag for any treasures you find. In Mexico, are tons of authentic taco stands and a great full service fives star looking restaurant that I can't think of the name of on the left hand side. (will look back at my expense reports and see what I can find).

                2 Replies
                1. re: hmbyrd00

                  you're probably thinking about arturo's in progreso. there are quite a few new restaurants in mcallen since the original post. palenque grill in south mcallen for one, and tons of new restaurants in north mcallen, too.

                  1. re: hellpaso

                    Arturo's in Nuevo Progresso is THE place to go. Many of the waiters have been there 20-40 years. The margaritas are killer, nothing like most of the crap in the U.S. They don't use sweetener, that mystery stuff in a plastic bottle added over here. Just tequila, fresh lime and liquer. Good food too, I had fried speckled trout, real trout not tilapia, I know the difference. My wife and my sister in law just got back this weekend and used drivers liscense and birth certificate, but I'd check U.S. customs first. The city of Nuevo Progresso has a website, Arturos is on it, ask for Joaquin.

                2. If you aren't hung up on appearance, there is a restaurant that serves a small Tex-Mex buffet for lunch at approx. $7.00. It is called 'El Patio', not to be confused with the chain 'El Pato'. It is on 10th just E. of Pecan. It isin a little strip mall next to an AllState Ins. office. It is a spanish style entry and very scruffy but don't let that scare you off. If you like Tex-Mex I highly recommend this place.
                  Good eating.

                  1. try Goombadas at 6400 N. 10th....awesome sandwiches...best philly cheese steak EVER!

                    1. I spend a lot of time down there. I do like Arturo's in Progreso, but one of the main reasons is that I always drive over and Arturo's has free parking if you spend $10 in their restaurant.

                      But I think Angel's Restaurant is probably my favorite. It's located on the top floor of Angel's Department Store: http://angelsmexico.com/ It's actually kitty-corner from Arturo's.

                      Also very very good in Progreso is La Fogata - a few more blocks in, and on the right-hand side of the road. Be sure to try the flamed cheese, and the charro beans, which are reputed to be the best beans on the entire border. You won't get any argument about that from me.

                      If you don't want to go across the border, Poncho's Mexican Food in Pharr (NOT affiliated in any way with Pancho's Mexican buffets) is really really good, and a lot of fun. There are always Mexican families there celebrating this or that holiday or event, and often there are excellent mariachis strolling the floor. I love this place.

                      For a taste treat and a bit of an adventure, seek out Gonzales Burgers in Donna. This is a sort of "insider joint." It's in a residential neighborhood and you just have to know where it is. It's lunch only, run by Berta and her daughter out of their home. They don't advertise and there's no sign on the place anywhere. But those hamburgers are the real deal. Fat, juicy, handmade patties, and all the fixin's. Served with a pile high plate of handmade onion rings. The way hamburgers used to be.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jaymes

                        Jaymes, have you tried El Dorado in Alamo on Bus. 83? Nothing earth shattering, just good valley Tex Mex. We were just there recently, they had a grilled pork chop that was outstanding, plus a good breakfast. Get some exrtra refried beans, almost as good as El Tiempo's.

                      2. We returned to GA last week from McAllen and the Valley and we had an excellent time there. We are totally spoiled and our Mexican restaurants just DON'T CUT IT now that we have been to Costa Messa in McAllen. Our family all shared the Sombrero made with steak and chicken. It is basically fajita style meat but is cooked up with yummy bacon and then covered with OOEY GOOEY cheese, served with tortillas, rice and beans and pico/salsa (the green sauce is awesome on it). FABULOUS!!! Especially to be so simple. The service was fantastic and our family of 6 got out of there for less than $80 that was including a fat tip for our great waiter. This place is kind of hidden, but worth searching for! We went to Donna to Gonzales Burgers also, we waited in line for about 20 minutes only for the girl at the counter to tell us it would be an hour wait for 4 burgers! The place was totally jam packed, there weren't even any seats available at the picnic tables outside! The burgers looked HEAVENLY but we had to leave, so we missed out this time, but that will be the first place we hit next trip! Arturos in Progreso is wonderful and i agree with the other patrons that the margaritas are terrific! The street vendors are great as well, my husband had some Lonches (fried bread with basic taco filling, fresh advacado and pico) I tried the grilled corn smeared with chili/lime mayonesa and oaxaca cheese, OMG! TRY THIS! Also if you are in the mood for some great Italian, head over to Little Italy in Weslaco, pretty restaurant with HUGE portions, some of the best Chicken Parm, EVER, they also have live music and the owner's are some of the nicest people in south TX. Hope you all enjoy your trip to the Valley.

                        Costa Messa Restaurant
                        1621 N 11th St, McAllen, TX 78501

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mollyga

                          Molly, thanks so much for getting back with us to let us know how everything went. Too bad that Gonzales Burger was so slammed. I remember hearing how it was the "best-kept secret on the border," but the first time I went, I decided that not only did the whole border know about it, they had all gotten there fifteen minutes before I did!

                          Haven't been to Costa Mesa (or El Dorado, either, James) so I've got some new places to try.