When it comes to dining, McAllen is blessed with a variety of flavors to savor, from homegrown Tex-Mex to exotic Asian favorites. Here are some of the city’s top restaurants, where you’ll find ample options—and portions—to satisfy any appetite.
Americana in McAllen ranges from spicy chicken and risotto to sizzling steaks and seafood. The Wing Barn prides itself on just the right heat and sauce, along with sweet-potato chips, jalapeno-and-bacon poppers, salads, and—save room—state fair-inspired fried Oreos.Wild mushroom risotto, anyone? Larry and Jessica Delgado offer sophisticated food and drink in a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere at house.wine.& bistro. Start the day off right with a breakfast sandwich or pastry at Coffee Zone, or pop in for a sandwich or a delicious daily lunch special that might include sliced tenderloin with burgundy mushroom sauce or taco-crusted lime chicken. Palenque Chicken prides itself on healthy grilled chicken, available for dining in or take-out, served with sides, from tacos to veggies to macaroni salad. The Lunchbox is decorated with dozens of vintage lunchboxes, but the cuisine is contemporary and about as far from a PB&J as you can get. Patrons rave about daily menu items like white truffle and porcini lasagna and curry green apple soup.
Among more upscale options, Santa Fe Steakhouse and Cantina delivers prime steaks and wines from around the world, with stellar service. Alberico Fine Wine augments its vintages with gourmet salads, soups and pastas. SALT-New American Table, another example of the Delgado touch with cuisine, incorporates Italian, Mexican and Asian influences into a fresh, thoughtful menu that stresses locally sourced produce and meat.
Sips and Sweets
McAllen’s coffee shops and dessert destinations include De Alba Bakery (traditional tamales, Mexican pastries), Sweet & Tasty Bakery (35-plus cake varieties, pies and cookies), and Nothing Bundt Cakes (full-size bundts and bite-size bundtinis).
El Pastor Restaurant appeals with its succulent cabrito (the goat equivalent of veal), steaks, charro beans, handmade tortillas and piquin-pepper hot sauce. At Humaya Cantina Grill, choosing between salmon, tacos, steaks and burgers is a tall order. Gordita’s Dona Tere sizzles with taquizas, gorditas, chili relleno and more. Hacienda del Patron’s huastera tender cut steak, braised beef ribs and veal shank headline a flavorful menu.
Kumori Sushi and Teppanyaki's claim that "even Japan is jealous" of its tempting entrees may well be true. Stressing ultra-fresh ingredients, the varied menu offers rolls, rice dishes, soup and traditional teppanyaki at five McAllen locations. Lucky Sushi Bar lets you design your own meal, adding ingredients of your choice to bowls, cones or rolls. You may also opt for a la carte items that include sushi, sashimi, salads, soups and appetizers.
Two If by Seafood
Mambo Seafood features seafood cocktails, classic shrimp, fish and crab dishes, and fresh-market platters. La Costa Grill blends Mexican inspiration with fresh seafood in its extensive menu of ceviches, cocktails, salads, small plates and more.
The hottest spots in McAllen include Bar-B-Cutie, where the baby back ribs, brisket and chicken dishes—and yes, the fried okra and banana pudding—don’t disappoint. The local iteration of Rudy's Barbecue and Country Store has been wowing local lovers of the years. Specializing in brisket, chicken, pork loin, sausage and ribs, Rudy’s is also a good spot for delicious gifts.
New to McAllen, El Rincon Gaucho offers authentic Argentinean cuisine in a fine dining setting. The focus here is on organic ingredients, high-quality meats, seafood and chicken prepared the way you might find in Buenos Aires or the pampas.