[today was a slow birding day here in the Valley so please enjoy this reflection]
In January of 1993 Jeff Wert and Larry Rosche, my birding buddies from Ohio, joined me on my first winter birding adventure to The Valley. A great trip it was! I’m pretty sure that seven lifers were added to my list in three days-White-tailed Hawk, Sprague’s Pipit, Buff-bellied Hummingbird among them…..but the memory that still lingers with me today wasn’t the birds but the food!
Jeff and I arrived a full day earlier that Larry, whom we would need to pickup in Corpus Christie the following day. The first night, Jeff wanted Tex-Mex, which was quite different than Arizona Mexican (awful) or Santa Fe/New Mexican, a green chili and cheese based food that I’m so accustomed to eating in Colorado. We found a restaurant in McAllen where we were staying, but it was pricy and being birders, we were of course underdressed. On 10th street we stumbled onto a Mexican Restaurant called Taco Palenque. What an experience. A combination of fun atmosphere, great food, but in a hectic, informal, fast food kind of way. Tex-Mex was new to me. I’m familiar with beef and been burritos and cheese or chicken enchiladas. Here everything was different. I couldn’t pronounce half the items on the menu, but oh boy was it all tasty! Adobada, Carne Gustada, arbacoa, Machacado & egg, and a salsa bar with at least ten different types of salsa. The rich and spicy flavors from Mexico conjured up images of the next Mexican stray wandering north across the border, waiting to be found by us tomorrow, Plumbeous Kite anyone?
We ate there twice before we even left for Corpus Christie to pick up Larry and upon our return (it’s open 24/7) of course we immediately visited Taco Palenque for a late night snack.
I’ve been back many times over the years. Last year I needed to prod my reluctant brother Bill….the first time. We ate there twice and twice again this January. They serve beer so you can toast each lifer you add. For a real taste of the Lower Rio Grande Valley – try Taco Palenque.