Most Texans with deep roots in the state treasure the contributions their ancestors made to its unique history. But there may not be a clan with a keener appreciation of its role in this immense and storied land than the Guerra family of far South Texas.
Bartender Luis Martinez places the ingredients for the Akita Bloody Mary on the black marble bar of The Patio on Guerra in McAllen, setting the stage for his version of edible art. His palette includes cherry-size balls of wasabi; tiny white bowls of shaved ginger, garlic–chili paste, soy and teriyaki sauce, and a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper; plus large basil leaves, limes, and a pitcher of cold tomato juice. Here in McAllen, land of the margarita and the tequila-pink lemonade cocktail known as “border buttermilk,” Luis developed the drink decreed by Absolut Vodka in 2011 to be the “Best Bloody Mary” in America. Lucky for me, Luis divulges his secrets when my friends Jay and Elena Meade join me for lunch at the restaurant.
Visitors to McAllen have a wide array of activities to choose from—including birding at Quinta Mazatlan, a 1930s adobe home where more than 150 species of birds have been documented; checking out the art scene developing on Main Street; and exploring the city’s 17th Street Entertainment District, where restaurants, nightclubs, and even a restored 1940s theater generate excitement.