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South Texas Flavor

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We're always looking for more places to highlight in our South Texas Flavor series. If you have any suggestions, let us know! We're always hungry.

Mum’s not the word for McAllen’s Secret Garden Bistro

McALLEN — It is no secret that the Rio Grande Valley has produced some of the most talented and creative culinary minds not only in Texas, but throughout the country.

Good food, nostalgia at New York Deli in Harlingen

HARLINGEN — The slow Saturday afternoon eases my mind as I park on a quiet street and step into a place of memory and flavor, of neon lights and “Drag City” playing and the smells of brisket and salami.

McAllen’s Noodles & Dumplings is an exploration in deliciousness

McALLEN — Recently-opened Noodles & Dumplings provides a great flavorful variety of Chinese food, perfect for almost every occasion for newcomers or foodies.

Expectations are surpassed at Diego’s Farm to Table in McAllen

McALLEN — There was a subtle manic energy you feel walking into Diego’s Farm to Table restaurant along Pecan Avenue in Central McAllen that you may be tempted to yell “yes, chef” when the host asks you to take a seat. Think more “The Bear” Season 2 than the implosive Season 1.

Brownsville’s 1848 BBQ is a delightful, delicious encounter with memories and flavors

BROWNSVILLE — The sun moves beyond the trees as a late afternoon breeze warm and wet blows swift and steady down the wide boulevard.

Edinburg’s Mochi Ring Donuts full of color and flavor

EDINBURG — Looking to beat the heat and try something new this summer? Check out Mochi Ring Donuts in Edinburg which offers a variety of mochi donuts, Korean rice hot dogs, bingsoo and plenty of refreshing drinks.

Vermillion’s tradition still strong: Brownsville establishment nearly 100 years old

BROWNSVILLE — I hear the “Cheers” theme dance through my mind as I enter this restaurant so familiar to me and to so many.

Big, tasty bites at Jose’s Cafecito in Weslaco

WESLACO — Ron Swanson once said, "There has never been a sadness that can't be cured by breakfast food."

Mega Burger from Yum-Yum in Mission lives up to its name

MISSION — I was tasked with writing a review of a burger, which is both easy and difficult at the same time.

Grapevine’s got ‘great’ tuna tacos

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Fish tacos with corn.

Phở-nominal bowls of flavor at Lê Phở House in Weslaco

WESLACO — Wanting to try something new and different, I came to Lê Phở House — a Vietnamese kitchen in Weslaco — with an open mind and I left with a stomach full of delicious noodles, broth, beef and a curiosity into a new cuisine.

San Benito’s Lali’s Café is a classic choice

SAN BENITO — The specials on the wall catch my eye so quickly I don’t even ask for a menu.

Take the short trip for Baffin Bay Seafood

RIVIERA — It finally happened.

A diverse experience at Café Nashta in Mercedes

MERCEDES — The plate with the shrimp and the rice and a passionate mix of cardamom and coriander and masala entices me into a sweet dream of memories.

Unique fusion of flavors at McAllen’s Mikhuna

McALLEN — Mikhuna, a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant in McAllen brings a one-of-a-kind taste to the Valley with a mix of traditional South American dishes and Nikkei, a fusion of Peruvian ingredients shaped by Japanese techniques.

A livestock show culinary treasure: Funnel cakes

MERCEDES — There’s just something about them.

Listen when they suggest McAllen’s Wa Gabose

McALLEN — I am usually not open to suggestions when it comes to these food reviews (just ask my editors), unless my girlfriend suggests that I take suggestions, in which case I will.

Grand flavor, personality at Brownsville’s El Mesquite

BROWNSVILLE — I know the meal will serve my appetite very well because I can’t find any place to park until I drive to the back.

Hidalgo’s Rock & Roll Sushi a hidden gem of an experience, perfect for Lent

Rock & Roll Sushi in Hidalgo is a small restaurant that offers good sushi at great prices. It’s an exciting spot for those observing Lent, or wanting to try something new in the Rio Grande Valley with a beautiful area surrounding it.

Like the southern coast: Muelle 37’s Mexican seafood

HARLINGEN — Fish swim along the walls and the music fills my ears as the waiter shows me to a table.

Just a sweet experience at Azúcar Y Sal in McAllen

McALLEN — I don’t think that you can put a price on friendly service, and the folks at Azúcar Y Sal seem to have a monopoly when it comes to treating customers like family.

Pause the journey at Doña Carmen’s in Los Fresnos

There’s the flashing of a sign across the dining room where the people and the meals fill the tables.

Universal Market & Indian Restaurant has an array of flavors for cuisine’s newcomers, lovers

McALLEN — Walking into the Universal Market & Indian Restaurant you are instantly surrounded with traditional Indian aromas coming from the restaurant buffet and awestruck with the selection of food in the market.

Sasi’s Thai in Brownsville is a fine departure from the familiar

BROWNSVILLE — The blue-green lights breaking through the cold and the wet of a January night beckon me into the welcoming warmth of a place thick with aromas and music of a faraway place.

A genuine Korean experience at McAllen’s Nak Won Jung

McALLEN — Nak Won Jung not only offers some of the best Korean cuisine in the area but also gives customers a Korean authenticity upon entering the restaurant.

Koffee Klatch in Harlingen has a delicious breakfast menu

HARLINGEN — The quiet of morning greets me as I enter a dining room with tables filled by the breakfast hour.

Cocktails quench holiday thirst at Barrel House in Edinburg

EDINBURG — I was asked to do a sort of New Years Eve-themed review of a local restaurant. I was also told that I need to stop reviewing Mexican and barbecue restaurants.

Harlingen’s Lonnie’s serves up a ‘garbage omelet’ and it’s delicious

HARLINGEN — It’s a late Sunday morning and the cars in the parking lot announce the presence of many people in a popular restaurant.

El Fenix Café in Mercedes still going strong

MERCEDES — The chorizo and egg breakfast taco lays bare its charms, enticing me with its aromas and the memories of those aromas.

Bigo’s in Brownsville has personality

BROWNSVILLE — The papel picado hanging from the line across the dining area seems out of place in a quiet dining area where only one table entertains diners.

Weslaco diner serves up homestyle burgers y mas

WESLACO — There is a scene in the movie “Tombstone” — arguably the greatest cinematic masterpiece of all time, starring Kurt Russell as famed lawman Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer as infamous gunfighter and subpar dentist Doc Holiday — that really resonates with me.

Weslaco’s Black Brew Company uses Kenyan AA beans in cozy shop

WESLACO — It’s early afternoon, and the fall colors drift across the walls and the windows and the glass doors.

Small menu, big taste at El Pocito in McAllen

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.

Glizzey’s Food Hut offers delightful renditions of the American hot dog

HARLINGEN — A joyously cool wind tussles the flags and the trees around the purple structure with the dashing signs.

Pepe’s mole en pollo is a delightful discovery

HARLINGEN — There’s a rumbling, a stirring and an excitement in conversation over a noon meal that brings freshness and lift after a rather dismal morning.

Vegan eatery in McAllen surpasses irrational carnivorous expectations

McALLEN — María Cruz - Plant Based Cuisine is strange, but in a good way.

‘Mexican Bites’ on Central Boulevard in Brownsville basks in breakfast delight

BROWNSVILLE — There's a hot stretch of road along a less traveled part of the city where a small restaurant grabs my attention with its bright yellow facade and colorful signs.

Teddy’s Barbecue in Weslaco is mecca for the South Texas faithful

WESLACO — My editor, Mark Reagan, has been nagging me about going to review Teddy’s Barbecue since he read about them in the “failing New York Times.”

Joe’s Ice Cream has 52 reasons for you to chill out this summer

McALLEN — This sweltering, unrelenting triple-digit heat calls for something ice cold.

Alicia’s Mexican Restaurant is an out of the way place for everyday folks

HARLINGEN — On a slower part of town away from the busier places sits a restaurant that can appear invisible by its permanence.

Wings are champ at Kiri Kiri Korean Fried Chicken

McALLEN — My editor suggested that I write a review about a barbecue restaurant, but then my girlfriend said that she wanted something different.

Fares Arabic Cuisine in McAllen serving up delectable meals, friendly service

McALLEN — Apparently, my reviews have become too predictable.

Las Cazuelas in Harlingen a fine Tex Mex Restaurant with good food

HARLINGEN — There’s a power in the presence of age, in the continuity of the past extending into the moment with an anticipation of tomorrow.

Smoke Crafters brisket enchiladas are a truly Tex-Mex experience

MISSION — Good dining experiences can create unforgettable experiences in the same way a bad experience can ruin a day — it’s in the way that the quality of the food and the service wields a transformative effect on our minds and moods.

McAllen’s Taquerias Tlaquepaque Hnos evokes memories of Matamoros street tacos

McALLEN — Taquerias Tlaquepaque Hnos is an unassuming restaurant sandwiched in between a slew of other businesses at a small plaza on North 10th Street in McAllen.

Captain Bob’s Seafood Restaurant in Brownsville a fine fusion flavor, personality

BROWNSVILLE — A pirate with a wooden leg greets me the moment I walk into Captain Bob’s Seafood Restaurant.

San Benito barbecue joint not just blowing smoke with brisket tacos

SAN BENITO — Pappasito’s Smokehouse And Then Some sits on the corner of East Stenger Street and East Milam Street in a building that for many years housed the Diamond G Food Store, a staple for many San Benitians throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Harlingen’s Taqueria El Buen Pastor a fine place for food and conversation

HARLINGEN — The city streets have entered the dead zone of the hot mid afternoon, and I find refuge in the colorful dining room of Taqueria El Buen Pastor.

La Hacienda a grand portrait of flavor and experience in San Benito

SAN BENITO — I’ve been out driving throughout the day, my trips taking me several times through the center of the city.

Brownsville’s Ostioneria La Fragata offers fine Mexican seafood

BROWNSVILLE – There’s a small seafood restaurant along the farther reaches of town, where cars along a busy thoroughfare have already broken away to their separate destinations.

The Mid-Valley’s Doña Paz is a fine restaurant with personality

WESLACO — There’s nothing better than a Sunday breakfast of chorizo and eggs and fine coffee — except breakfast in the company of others.

Jose’s Cafecito, a Weslaco staple, housed on first floor of Villa de Cortez

WESLACO — A boy in a starched shirt cuts eagerly into his soaked pancake, speaking quickly to his parents eating slowly for the joy of the moment.

J&B’s a clean and pleasant place with good food, service

HARLINGEN — I step into the peaceful diner and look over a blackboard covered with the house specials.

Dirty Al’s offers a clean, well-lighted place to enjoy good food and friendship

BROWNSVILLE — A blue marlin dives toward a table of diners; its flight frozen in mid-air by a taxidermist.

Blanquita’s in Harlingen offers both simplicity and extravagance

HARLINGEN — I step out of the November cold into the warm restaurant and wait for instructions.

La Playa in Harlingen is a fine place to eat

HARLINGEN — It’s a Tuesday night at La Playa Mexican Café, and the warm lights spread from the ceiling and fall onto wooden tables and tiled floors while country music fill the dinner air.

Moran’s Pizzeria in Mercedes prompted applause and love at first bite

MERCEDES — The first time I’d heard of the legendary Hot Cheeto pizza from Moran’s Pizzeria, I was on the phone with my soon-to-be girlfriend.

‘Gringa’ plate at Calaca’s Tacos and Beer has a San Benito twist

SAN BENITO — It’s late afternoon. The mood at Calaca’s Tacos and Beer is quiet and refreshing.

Pollo en mole just hits different at Anita’s Cafe in Edinburg

EDINBURG — The writing on a wall when you first enter Anita’s Cafe reads, “Overthinking will destroy your happiness and your mood.”