Tenth Street, McAllen

Trek beyond the outlet mall and you’ll find indie shops, hip bars, and a burgeoning arts district.
Tenth Street, McAllen
ManicHaus, Modern Art Space.
Photograph by Sarah Sudhoff

1. Barn White

It’s white and it looks like a barn, so points for being clever. This gift store really scores, though, with the selection of glittery Christopher Radko seasonal ornaments, sigh-inducing Niven Morgan scented candles and soaps, mix-and-match Zutano baby clothes, and country-chic horn-handled Vagabond steak knives. And that’s just the first floor. One flight up you’ll find what any bride-to-be would be delighted to have on her registry: Vera Wang and Haviland china, monogrammed photo albums, Lenox utensils, and Spode holiday dishes. 4317 N. Tenth, 956-687-7637, barnwhite.com

2. Sylvia’s/Uniques

They may share a pass-through door and the same owner, but these clothing boutiques couldn’t be more different. Sophisticates head to Sylvia’s for pageant-worthy gowns by Badgley Mischka, matchy separates by Michael Kors, and a shoe salon with finds from Juicy Couture and Stuart Weitzman. Uniques, with its zebra rug and flocked-damask dressing room curtains, has a younger vibe and stocks its shelves with trendy denim from People’s Liberation and weathered tees from Junk Food. 4300 N. Tenth, 956-682-6036/956-971-0200, sylviasmcallen.com and uniquesmcallen.com

3. Melissa Guerra

The festive papel picado decorations strung from the ceiling, brightly painted walls, and high-energy tejano music playing in cookbook author Melissa Guerra’s culinary shop capture the spirit of a Mexican marketplace. Enthusiasts of Latin cuisine will be pleased to find molcajetes and Mexican drinking chocolates alongside kitchen basics like prep knives and baking pans. A cookbook section includes titles such as Sharon Tyler Herbst’s Food Lover’s Companion and Guerra’s own Dishes From the Wild Horse Desert: Norteño Cooking of South Texas. 4100 N. Second, Ste. 200; 956-688-5831; melissaguerra.com

4. Costa Messa

Traditional Tex-Mex fare rules here, and the locals milling around the entrance prove that the wait is worth it. A simple desert mural is the backdrop at this no-frills family favorite. Three types of salsa are served with thick corn chips as soon as you’re seated, and the lemony sweetened iced tea

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