McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley
On May 19, Don and I ventured to McAllen, Texas.
This was our time in the city, at the southern end of the state. Mexican The historic hotel and restaurant, just 5 minutes from the Mexican border, was the reason for our visit.
The 103 year old mission/Spanish revival-style building looked pretty good!
The towering palms were neatly trimmed. That was a nice surprise since most of the palms we'd seen on our 5 hour drive, looked dead. The February 2021 Texas Freeze did a number on palms throughout the state.
The Hotel in 1950
I guess a hotel named Casa de Palmas, should try to keep their palms healthy.
This is how an Harry Borgman depicted the hotel, 71 years ago. This is the image in our 1950 cookbook, put out by Ford Motors. Once again, our old book lured us to a destination!
Much of the hotel had been renovated during 2020, while pandemic healthcare workers took over some of the hotel. The Satillo-tiled floors and swirling staircase, had a retro feel. The furnishings and fixtures were all fresh and modern.
It was hard to imagine Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn staying here in 1952, during filming of Viva Zapata. It was even harder to picture this lobby filled with families, taking shelter from the 1919 hurricane.
I'm not sure what the bar looked like, 100 years ago in the 1920's. That's when tourists and traveling salesmen came by train.
You can tell this photo is from the 2020's, since the bartender is wearing a face mask.
After checking into our room, Don and I headed in search of a good Happy Hour.
In mid May 2021, we were just getting back to inside dining. We weren't quite ready for gabbing with strangers at a bar. We ordered 2 glasses of wine and headed to a lovely porch. There were a few to choose from. This was our view!
The Spanish Room
Later in the evening, we headed for the Spanish Room Restaurant.
This is not how the restaurant looked. I found this old photo on the internet.
I took this photo in the late afternoon.
I wanted to take a capture some of the new decor, without disturbing diners.
I didn't have to worry about disturbing anyone. There was only one other couple. Like us, they were seated in a cozy booth, out of sight.
Our waiter Oscar, was attentive and gracious. He apologized when our food was a little slow coming out. He brought us two complimentary salads!
Dinner is Served!
We were perfectly content with the pace. The wine and bread stick rolls kept me happy until our meal came.
Chef's Ravioli of the Day
I went for a the ravioli of the day.
It was stuffed with Osso Bucco and topped with mushrooms and a rich, thick sauce. It was worth the wait!
Catch of the Day
Don went for the catch of the day. His grilled salmon came with fingerling potatoes and fresh zucchini & squash. Don hardly wanted to share, but I stole a bite.
Chef Avi stopped by our booth and we raved about our meal. I decided it was time to dig out the cookbook. "Have you seen one of these books before?" I asked.
He looked surprised as he studied the recipe. He pulled out his phone to record the image. Its always extra fun, when we get to share the old cookbook with the chef!
Oscar and Turkey Mornay Recipe
Oscar came over to check on things. We were both wearing masks when I got up to pose with him. Then we had that funny exchange. that's becoming common, these days. "Oh, I'm vaccinated, too. We can pull our masks down."
Oscar had been a gracious and serious server. This silly book paved the way for a fun conversation. It was heart warming to hear his stories of getting through the pandemic. He talked about his joy at seeing the hotel coming back to life. He was excited to know that families were planning weddings and quinceaneras again.
We had such a lovely and quiet meal. It made me a little sad to see that there weren't more people dining.
We wandered a little after dinner and imagined how busy this hotel might become in a few months.
I hope so. This iconic hotel and restaurant has worked hard to reopen!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.