Desperatly seeking edible food in Mcallen, Texas
- Biker Foodie Feb 1, 2005 08:44 PM
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.