For those starting a new life in the Rio Grande Valley and/or those visiting the area and looking for a unique experience, or why not, for locals who have never ventured across the border.

Nuevo Progreso, Mexico













Now that you are moving to the Rio Grande Valley, prepare to experience a jolting culture clash- especially when it comes to local culinary arts. Regional restaurants on the US side offer excellent Tex-Mex food, which locals and visitors call Mexican food, serving items such as American cheese enchiladas, chalupas, crispy ground beef tacos, American cheese nachos, and more. Fortunately, we have Mexico just a short drive away where you will find authentic Mexican cuisine, Mexican hospitality, and true Mexican atmosphere at a very affordable price. I highly recommend Arturo’s restaurant in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. Arturo’s restaurant is only a couple of blocks away from the international bridge making it very easy to access by foot once you park your car on the US side; parking costs $2.00 for the day plus a  .25 cent pedestrian  toll each way.

When you walk into Arturo’s restaurant you will immediately notice the lack of those tacky clichéd Mexican decorations commonly found in Mexican food restaurants across the Rio Grande Valley. The atmosphere is cozy with walls painted in hues of gold, tailored window curtains, and chairs upholstered in burgundy fabric. The commercial carpet flooring buffs any annoying sound that could overlap conversation and it is not uncommon to find a live band playing subtle background music. Tables are dressed in white linen tablecloths and cloth napkins; cocktail paper napkins are only used when serving drinks. Waiters, mostly male, look sharp in their black suits with matching black bow-ties, white shirts, and black shoes. They all speak English and have a way of making you feel like a millionaire dining at a very fancy, high- priced restaurant; it takes but a glance in their direction to draw them to your table to satisfy your request. Needless to say, the restaurant maintains a high level of hygiene throughout, for there is even a bathroom attendant making sure the bathroom is kept clean and patrons have all the toiletries they need.

Arturo’s restaurant has served the region of the Rio Grande Valley for over 50 years offering the traditional cuisine of northern Mexico. Their menu includes frog legs and Tampiquena; an entrée consisting of a lean fajita steak accompanied with an enchilada, a taco, and refried beans sprinkled with goat fresh cheese, and guacamole with tortilla chips. Cabrito is a baby goat, bred in northern Mexico, that is fed only its mother’s milk and raised never touching the ground; cabrito meat is prepared either grilled, with a spicy sauce, or cooked in its own blood. If you are not ready for cabrito, you will not have any trouble finding an entrée that will certainly delight your palate. It is important to remember that Mexican food served here will consist of white cheese and not the American or Jack cheese we see in Tex-Mex food. Patrons do have the option of requesting American cheese, and Arturo’s cooks happily comply with their requests.  Arturo’s menu includes poultry, seafood, steaks, traditional Mexican plates, salads, soups, and appetizers. Ensalada de Palmito (heart of palm salad) with the house vinaigrette dressing is delicious, as is the Caldo Tlalpeno; a spicy chicken soup topped with avocado slices.

Arturo’s restaurant in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico is not only a very good restaurant, but a very affordable one. One thing you will notice at the bottom of the menu is the acronym: IVA, which means the sales tax, which is fifteen percent, and it is not included in the cost of the menu items listed, so make sure to remember this. Arturo’s offers many generously portioned lunch specials served from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM ranging from $7.99 to $15.00 dollars. Tipping is customary in Mexico as it is in the United States; consider tipping fifteen to twenty percent, depending on the service. There is no doubt that you will gladly tip Arturo’s waiters after you experience the high level of service they bestow. It is always good practice to tip the bathroom attendant as well; there is no standard rule as to the amount, but I’m certain any tip is highly appreciated.

Arturo’s is famous for their Margaritas and their happy hour. The restaurant features a separate piano bar serving Mexican and American beer and cocktail favorites like Martinis, High Ball, Bloody Mary, and one of a kind Margaritas. Chairs and tables at the bar are lower; swivel chairs are padded and very comfortable. A selection of Mexican snacks such as salted peanuts and corn chips are served at no extra cost. Drink specials during happy hour and live music every afternoon from 5:00 PM until closing make this dining experience worth the trip.

Overall, I believe this is the best authentic Mexican food restaurant in the Rio Grande Valley. Even though Arturo’s is located in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, the proximity, and the cultural ties, plus the fact that they are our neighbors to the south practically make this town a part of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. If the violent situation in Mexico concerns you to the point that you choose to completely avoid traveling into Mexico, there is an Arturo’s restaurant in Weslaco, Texas. The service and the food are very similar, but it lacks the authentic feel of its legendary predecessor. I most insist, visiting Arturo’s is safe, and its superb service, warm hospitality, cleanliness, and delicious food will not only satisfy your appetite, it will be an enjoyable and memorable experience that will spearhead your new life in the Rio Grande Valley.

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About the Author

Tapia - Gonzales
La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Life, art and culture, poetry, prayers, travel, and camping! yes, that's my new thing. The high humidity may be responsible for the madness. Contributions and comments are always welcome .