Both eateries were started by Juan Francisco "Pancho" Ochoa, a successful restaurant owner in Mexico. Pancho, who already had his own secret chicken recipe, moved to the United States in the mid-to-late 1980s to establish a Mexican fast food chain that featured not only a drive-thru option but authentic Mexican food. And Taco Palenque was born.
Begun in 1987 in Laredo, Taco Palenque found its way to McAllen in 1998. Since then, the Mexican eatery has been spicing up customers' dinner experiences with more than 90 menu items, including a wide range of meats, tacos, fajitas, seafood, antojitos and seven different homemade salsas, as well as a playground for the kids and a festive atmosphere.
"It is always decorated for holidays with a gusto that's usually reserved for elementary school classrooms," says customer Tricia Noyola, who says the food is "never a disappointment" and advises others to make sure they "don't skip the salsa and toppings bar."
Following Taco Palenque's success, Palenque Grill was opened in McAllen by Pancho in August 2006, almost a year to the day after that restaurant's first location started in Laredo. Palenque Grill is a full-service establishment that offers not only authentic Mexican dishes (including premium meats, seafood and Mexican antojitos), but a very bohemian atmosphere where guests are entertained with piano music as well as a live mariachi band.