Can you believe that this will be the third yearly edition of the Best Bars in McAllen?
No. You can’t, because even I didn’t think I’d still be writing this garbage in 2017 but HERE WE ARE!
Just like we have for the previous years, we’ll be ranking each bar using a series of metrics designed to help us grade each bar fairly:
1. Variety: How deep does the bar’s selection go? Original drinks score more points.
2. Drinks: We’re not overthinking this one; are the mixed drinks good? If no mixed drinks are available, is their choice of selection good? (This portion would differ from variety; a bar could, in theory, have a wide selection of terrible product)
3. Atmosphere: Every bar is designed with a type of client in mind. From when you walk-in, to your first drink. From the tables, to the music; A bar owner knows the kind of feeling they want to emit. What bar is doing the best at building up the environment around you?
4. Service: Is the place adequately staffed? How long does it take before you actually get noticed at the bar-top?
5. Sanitation: Long bathroom wait? Do you feel like you’re gonna catch something?
I should disclose that this is all based on a comprehensive list of local bars. No big-chain restaurant/bars were considered.
We’ll also be crowning the best bars in each “bar district,” the geographical boundaries of which I made up on my own. The districts include: 17th St. (well, everything on 17th), Nolana (sensing a pattern, here?), North McAllen (bars north of Nolana), Mid-Town McAllen (inside the box of Col. Rowe, 23rd, Nolana, Expressway), and West McAllen (between 23rd and Ware).
Here are the results for 2017:
Best Of Bar Districts
Best Bar 17th St.: Suerte (Score 8.7)
Best Bar Nolana: The Quarter (Score 7.7)
Best Bar North McAllen: El Divino (Score 9.1)
Best Bar Mid-Town McAllen: The Centennial Club (Score 8.5)
Best Bar West McAllen*: El Callejon De Los Milagros (Score 6.7)
*Disclaimer: West McAllen has an extremely limited sample of local bars. Almost everything on Expressway and Ware was disqualified for being corporate.
#10. The Patio on Guerra, 17th St.. Score: 7.40 (2015 Rank: NR)
The last place downtown where you can listen to great live music. Service is fairly on-point and they’ve successfully cultivated a bubble for an older crowd who may enjoy a night out of REAL dancing without having to worry about the mess outside.
#9. SALT – New American Table, Mid-Town McAllen. Score 7.50 (2015 Rank: NR)
Chef Larry Delgado has the honor (sure!) to say that he has two bars ranked in the top 10 for 2017. Over the last year, SALT has added quite a bit of variety to their drink selection to where now their arsenal can compete with just about anyone.
#8. The Quarter, 17th St. Score 7.70 (2015 Rank: NR)
The Quarter is our third straight un-ranked bar to make it into our Top 10 and for good reason. Their house sangria is enough for a trip out to Nolana and their craft cocktails rival some of the more established bars in McAllen.
#7. House Wine, Mid-Town. Score 7.70 (2015 Rank: #3)
Taking a dip this year has nothing really to do with their selection of wine or fairly impeccable service. The poor acoustics likely from a combination of both the openness of the building along with space teeming with guests can make a quiet evening into a shouting contest between yourself and the table adjacent. Again, it’s difficult to penalize a place for being so popular, but there’s a point where the environment you are selling is unable to balance with the environment you are actually providing.
#6. Santa Fe Cantina, Mid-Town McAllen. Score 7.75 (2015 Rank: #6)
As one of the most established bars in McAllen, Santa Fe has earned a reputation for consistency. Their original drinks have remained the same for as long as I can remember, which is why they haven’t climbed their way up in the last year. If you execute what you know exceptionally well, however, it completely negates that fact, leaving your bar in a stasis of consistency.
#5. Peacocks, 17th St. Score 7.8 (2015 Rank: #8)
After Peacocks established itself as a staple on 17th St., other similar “shot bars” began popping up all over downtown; none of which can or could duplicate the charm of what Peacocks has cleverly delivered well for the last several years. Everything from the size of the bar to the easily editable chalk menu all together build an environment that’s quick, effortless and fun.
#4. Roosevelt’s at 7, Mid-Town McAllen. Score 8 (2015 Rank: #9)
Finally a drink menu! For years, Roosevelt’s relied specifically on their bartenders and servers to provide options to their patrons. A neat gimmick but not so handy when you tried one of the dozens of micro brews before only to forget the name and be forced to drink your way until you find it again (although, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just not for everybody).
#3. The Centennial Club, Mid-Town McAllen. Score 8.5 (2015 Rank: #1)
Last year’s top bar took a bit of a dive to #3 for nothing else but for their seemingly reduced selection in liquor. From what I’ve noticed in my past few visits is that they’ve settled more on established liquors vs lesser known or experimental labels. Their Holy Smoke, hands down, remains to be the best cocktail in the city, their service is fairly impeccable and the old wood decor help build a pleasant atmosphere that’s hard to find in the Valley.
#2. Suerte, 17th St. Score 8.7 (2015 Rank: #5)
Even before 2015 when the city of McAllen mulled whether or not to completely scrap 17th St., Downtown had already built up a reputation for violence and petty crimes because of the type of crowd most of the bars were attracting. Simply, 17th became synonymous with “ghetto” during a point where it was still trying to shape itself in what it would be today. Suddenly, there opened a slew of bars that boldly dared to draw a different crowd and mend 17th’s ailing reputation. The anchor for this movement belongs to Suerte, a hybrid that highlights the complex and vibrant cultures of our area in their decor, drinks, and events. There isn’t a place in McAllen quite like Suerte which explains why they’ve jumped up to our #2 spot.
#1. El Divino, Mid-Town. Score 9.1 (2015 Rank: #2)
This really isn’t much of a surprise as El Divino reclaims the top spot for the 2nd time in a 3rd year. They have firmly entrenched themselves as THE elite bar in McAllen. Their selection is the best in the city and can rival most in the state with excellently creative cocktails and a cigar room for those who want to be extra stuffy. It’s the perfect bar and fairly accommodating for whatever you need out of them. Simply, they are the best bar in McAllen.