MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — This week ValleyCentral takes you on a stroll to the home of the bulldogs, mustangs, and warriors. Nicknamed the city of palms, McAllen was founded in 1905 and has a population of over 140,000 residents. Located in southern Hidalgo County, McAllen has many neighboring cities like Edinburg, Pharr, Hidalgo and Palmview. Sharing a port of entry with Mexico, the McAllen-Hidalgo- Reynosa International Bridge has become one of the most important ports for international trading. Known for its history and size, McAllen has grown to become one of the most populated cities in the RGV. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, McAllen has a lot to offer for visitors and its residents.
Various sights and destinations make up the city of McAllen. Sports fans will know it as the home of the largest stadium in South Texas, the Veterans memorial stadium. Able to hold 13,500 fans, the stadium sees a lot of use during the school year. Home to the three major high schools in McAllen, the field also hosts many sporting events. The football season sees the stand’s filled with fans on Thursday and Friday nights. A few minutes away is downtown McAllen where history and local businesses come together. Notorious for its nightlife, bars line up a section of the downtown area. A popular destination for a night out, large crowds come to the area ready to have fun. Earning its name the city of palms, visitors and residents will notice the many palm trees that the city has.
Traditional Italian cuisine-Mama Mia Pizzeria
About to go on 40 years, Mama Mia Pizzeria has been serving homemade Italian food in McAllen since 1984. Founded by Carl Humbert, the bistro continues to be family-owned and operated. Humbert’s daughter Linda Scalise and her brother have continued the long history of serving a little piece of Italy. It first began with her Italian immigrant grandparents during WWII, who served troops stationed at Moore Air Base. Inviting them into their 1930’s home, troops were fed and provided entrainment. This act of kindness inspired Humbert to start a restaurant at the home a few years later. Beginning as only carry-out, the restaurant has undergone serval renovations through the years to aid with the growing success. Filled with Italian artwork, decorations and furniture, guests feel like they have been transported to Italy. Pasta’s, pizzas, deserts and much are made with the original recipes created by Scalise grandparents. Everything is fresh to honor and continue the tradition of food making. “It’s really really a blessing and an honor. And I love when I hear the customers say “oh my gosh this is so good, this is just how my grandma made it,” said Scalise.
Love of Food- Smokin’ Moon
Opening its doors in 2018, Smokin’ Moon has grown to become a major BBQ attraction in the RGV. Turning 3-years-old in October, the restaurant has been featured in publications like Texas Monthly in its short history. A passion for food is what drove owner Joseph Salinas and his stepfather to open Smokin’ Moon. “We just kind of thought that the Valley needed a good place, a good BBQ place, for people to come to, people to gather, that kind of made you feel you weren’t in the valley,” said Salinas. Inspired by designs typically found in bigger cities like Austin, Smokin’ Moon is able to put its own spin. Artwork outside the building gives the restaurant a unique attraction. Walking in guests are treated to the smell of the meats available like chicken, brisket, ribs plus much more. For those looking for more than a soft drink, the restaurant does offer some colorful alcoholic beverages. Sitting inside or outside guests are able to choose what suits them best.
Dream come true- Philly 77
Four years ago, a dream came true for owners Evelyn and Jose De Le Leon in the restaurant of Philly 77. As they planned to head to their honeymoon a location opened up in what would become Philly 77. The name comes from their wedding date July 7, and because of what they serve, the Philly cheesesteak. Beginning four years ago and being open for three it’s been a long journey. De Le Leon says it is like a love story because it was through the restaurant business and the cheesesteak that allowed both of them to meet. Operating in the heart of McAllen, the restaurant offers something different to the Valley. “We wanted a rustic, a romantic industrial nice place that you don’t have to go to New York or Austin,” said De Le Leon. Having the support and seeing the success on their restaurant is something that the De Le Leon’s are proud of.