Small menu, big taste at El Pocito in McAllen

South Texas Flavor

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The soft, warm, buttery tortillas did more than enough to leave us wanting more. (Francisco E. Jimenez | The Monitor)

McALLEN — I’ve been having trouble sleeping for the past few days, and unfortunately as I’m writing this there hasn’t been much of a change.

The silver lining in not sleeping is that I am up much earlier than I would be normally, and that seems like a good enough excuse to buy myself some breakfast.

A wise man once said, “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food,” and while I am not necessarily sad, I am very angry at my seemingly consistent lack of sleep. So let’s see if breakfast can make me feel better

A number of people have recommended that I try El Pocito, a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria serving up freshly made tortillas de mais, tortillas de harina, and gorditas. I take all recommendations very seriously … when they are made by my girlfriend, and she recommended that we finally go try El Pocito.

The tortilleria is located in an alleyway between South 16th Street and South 17th Street, and in between Chicago Avenue and Beaumont Avenue. My girlfriend compared trying to find El Pocito to trying to find Platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in London. She’s such a Ravenclaw.

We parked in a covered area right next to the building, which has a large sign that read, “The Tortilleria Factory, Hand Made Tortilla.” We walked through the screen doors and were immediately met with the distinct and mouth-watering smell of cooked maza.

Inside the tortilleria, workers rolled out flour tortillas, flattened corn tortillas with a cast iron tortilla press, and shaped the masa into about five-inch gorditas before placing them on a large comal. Another worker rushed back and forth between the cash register and a backroom, taking and bringing orders to customers waiting near the front entrance next to an industrial size corn grinder that still had some fresh masa inside.

We arrived hoping to sit down, enjoy some coffee and the ambiance of this hole in the wall restaurant. Unfortunately, we were too late. Three years too late, in fact. We were told by one of the workers that they no longer offer dine-in. We would be getting our food to-go. We would be going to the car. With tacos. And a gordita.

The gordita was toasty and warm with not so subtle maza flavor. The red salsa, which had the perfect balance of heat and zesty flavor, tied everything together. (Francisco E. Jimenez | The Monitor)

A poster on a wall displayed a short list of menu items consisting of, unsurprisingly, tacos, gorditas, and tortillas. Another poster said that they offer menudo on Saturdays, while another said that they only accept cash.

We ordered one bean and cheese gordita, a potato and egg taco, a bacon and egg taco, and a chorizo and egg taco. Everything came out to just under $10, a record low for these reviews. A part of me considers ordering more just to drive up the price a bit and make my expense report more interesting, but in the end I decided against it.

Come to think of it, didn’t even get a receipt. Oh well.

Our order was brought to us fairly quickly, and we retreated to the comfortable confines of my girlfriend’s car. We both agreed that the filling in each of the tacos, while delicious, were eclipsed by the amazing tortillas. To be honest, the tacos left a little to be desired considering that they were not filled as much as I would have liked. But the soft, warm, buttery tortillas did more than enough to leave us wanting more.

While we were both pleased with the tacos, it was the bean and cheese gordita that really made the meal special. Like the tacos, the filling in the gordita was fine, but the gordita itself was the real star. It was toasty and warm with not so subtle maza flavor giving it a homemade feel that would make your nana jealous. And the red salsa, which had the perfect balance of heat and zesty flavor, tied everything together.

Overall, we were both very happy with the experience. I feel much better now, and I cannot wait to take a nap (after work, of course).

El Pocito is located at 203 S. 17th St. They are open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Make sure to bring cash.