Joy of Mex: McAllen
McAllen has plenty of middle-of-the-road Mexican food, but some of the most authentic was at fast-food places like Taco Palenque. On the other end of the scale, try cool, cushy Guacamaya Grill for a fine Mexican margarita and guacamole (but eat elsewhere).
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1612 N. Eleventh, 956-687-7181.
Carved lava-stone columns add a touch of Mexican character to an otherwise unremarkable space, and the food is more authentic than is the norm hereabouts. Grilled items, a specialty, are served on tabletop braziers to keep them hot (ask for a platter so they won’t overcook). Plain sliced white onions (not the scallions you see on the other side) come drenched in a vinegary sauce; assorted grilled meats (the parrillada) bear a salty, spicy rub.
Guacamole: 3. Chips: 2 (taste commercial). Red salsa: 4. Yellow salsa: 2 (described as “Argentine,” it’s more like a vinaigrette).