From the exotic to locally grow ingredients, here is a sampling of some local culinary experiences and restaurants.
Mariscos De La Rosa is a quaint diner specializing in Gulf seafood. Located on South Padre Island, Mariscos De La Rosa is certainly a throwback in terms of local restaurants, offering authentic versions of Vera Cruz seafood. You won’t find French fries on a plate of seafood here, but you will find fresh, affordable and authentic offerings like the Salpicon, a crab dish cooked in tomato and chili. The seafood soup loads octopus, fish, shrimp and other seafood in a spicy red broth. Just a few hundred yards from the Gulf Coast, Mariscos De La Rosa is a must for anyone looking for a working man’s sanctuary for fresh local food. Call (956) 550-0024.
In walking distance from the Hidalgo County Courthouse, Al Fresco’s Deli Express offers fresh, inventive dishes. A popular lunch spot, Al Fresco’s menu is simple, but with enough variety for anyone’s taste. The menu features items that incorporate local ingredients, from a chicken salad sandwich with a side of dirty rice to grilled fish tacos drizzled with homemade cilantro ranch dressing. Call (956) 414-6211.
The owners of “house. wine. & bistro,” in McAllen say their ingredients of choice are always fresh, local and organic. Some of the local offerings on the menu include ranch beef, cheese, honey, salads and vegetables. They also offer 130 wines that may be purchased by the glass, bottle or case. The Bee Sting flatbread features a spicy marinara, Genoa salami, fresh mozzarella made in-house and bell pepper finished with a drizzle of locally harvested honey. Proprietors Larry and Jessica Delgado earned their culinary chops while working in the food service industry in Austin. Call (956) 994-8331 or visit www.housewinemcallen.com.
For exotic fare like blackened Buffalo roast, alligator tail sausage and Axis deer chili, visit Rio Grande City’s Wild Game Dinner, a scholarship fundraiser that's been held in February for 14 years. Set in a rustic barn that's flanked by vaqueros cooking up dishes with a history as big as Texas itself, this tribute to the region’s hunting and ranch culture offers a straightforward introduction to enjoying local food. Call local businessman Billy Canales at (956) 487-2596 for details on next year’s event.
The Ronald McDonald House Wild Game Dinner is a yearly benefit in Harlingen that is also held in February. Call (956) 412-7200 for more information.
These provide just a taste for what the area has to offer, but no matter what city you find yourself around mealtime, there is plenty of good, locally owned eateries to cater to whatever you feel like having that day.