Inventive Restaurants Thriving in North McAllen 

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The Valley has plenty of unique dining options, three of which can be found within one building in North McAllen. These neighboring locations on Auburn Avenue offer a distinct mixture of food, drink, and social atmosphere.

Anyone seeking a vibrant nighttime environment can start with Toloa Rooftop. The location opened in April 2023 as its three founders sought to create an innovative dine-in experience.

“Their vision was to have a fusion of a restaurant, bar, and lounge rooftop in North McAllen,” said Ricardo Martinez, General Manager. “It’s a very interesting concept where customers don’t just do one thing.”

Key to the restaurant’s atmosphere is its striking architecture, which sports an Aztec-themed aesthetic of earthy coloring and textured wall designs. Guests ascend to an upper story by stair or elevator, then encounter a spacious rooftop suite with options for indoor and outdoor ambiance.

“The architecture transforms this place into something very unique,” Martinez said. “We can open our glass panels, and it changes the restaurant from a formal dining setting into a more open lounge and bar.”

Toloa Rooftop has hosted several events promoting local interests and invites residents of McAllen to celebrate its one-year anniversary event in April.

“I think everyone who comes in here receives a warm welcome, no matter what status,” Martinez said. “That’s really unique because the restaurant lends itself to be dictated by customers.”

Guests can visit a neighboring suite to find Santo Pecado, a restaurant known for its all-day assortment of dine-in options. Santo Pecado is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., remaining open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant and coffee shop appeal to a wide array of customers with its flexible dining environment.

“We wanted people to have an experience from the a.m. to the p.m.,” said Juan Verdura, one of the restaurant’s two founders. “You can roll in, bring your laptop, get coffee and pastries, and do some work or study.”

The menu at Santo Pecado combines traditional entrees with cocktail drinks and cold-brew coffee. Drink options are handcrafted and brewed in-house, while popular dishes include the Garritas de Leon Rib-Eye Tacos and Pistachio Crusted Salmon Risotto. This variety has allowed the restaurant to host a broad range of social events, including birthday parties, real estate conferences, holiday gatherings, engagement celebrations, and a daily Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The location also hosts a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights and has previously featured live performances by jazz musicians. The restaurant hopes to resume Jazz Night on Thursdays and plans to launch a Karaoke Night on Mondays.

“We put an emphasis on allowing our team members to put their creativity into those things,” Verdura said. “Santo Pecado would not be where it is today without an amazing team of bartenders, mixologists, baristas, and kitchen staff managers.”

The restaurant hopes to honor the food and drink industry members with future promotions and discounts.

Found in a nearby suite is Howling Rabbits Beerworks, a location known for its exciting blend of food and festivities. The restaurant and brewery are open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., providing a fun and family-friendly environment.

“We wanted to combine everything,” said Steven Schwoerer, General Manager. “There’s only a few more in the state that can do everything we do.”

The brewery features an unrivaled atmosphere for sports fans, boasting several video walls of widescreen TVs. One video wall features a combination of twelve 75-inch screens, making it one of the largest TV displays in South Texas. The restaurant must prepare for widely anticipated sports events, which draw large viewing parties throughout the year. Fans can bond over popular drinks and appetizers, including the Street Corn Dip and Loaded Soft Pretzel. The menu also includes various pizza options, with selections ranging from the traditional to the extravagant.

“We stick with the classics, and then we try to put our own little spin on everything,” Schwoerer said. “It’s stuff for everybody that everyone knows and loves.”

The restaurant’s universal appeal is only one highlight of an innovative dining sector, where residents and visitors in North McAllen can enjoy several first-rate options.

Bill Hill