Dishin’ It decided to go in a slightly different direction this week. Since St. Patrick's Day was this past Friday, and the larger cities in the Rio Grande Valley now have Lyft (a rideshare program), we “responsibly” set out to take part in the Irish celebrations at 3 local spots.
Gaby: We met in mid-town McAllen to plan our route and to download the Lyft app. We decided that The Orchard and Brickhouse on Business 83 and 11th Street in McAllen were good places to begin. Their social media pages announced a dual block party with live music, food and drink specials, giveaways and, of course, green beer.
Trisha: Once downloaded, I had some trouble navigating the Lyft app since it was my first time using it. Why is this thing not recognizing my pick up location? Gaby, what's the address here?
Gaby: I took care of that before Trisha's app completely downloaded.
For our readers that don't know, Lyft is a rideshare program where passengers can request a ride from nearby drivers. Once requested, you can see a driver's name, photo, rating and even car information. When you have reached your destination, you can choose your payment method and how much to tip your driver. You can even select if you want to split the cost with another passenger!
Because taxis are hard to come by in our area, you can see why we are so excited to have something like this available to us.
Trisha: Our driver showed up to at our doorstep 8 minutes after we requested our ride. Well, not so much doorstep, more like he passed us, turned around, and proceeded to stop in the middle lane so we could enter the vehicle.
Gaby: More like climb up the vehicle! Did we mention it was a lifted Jeep Wrangler?
Trisha: Our driver had just finished dropping off someone from Harlingen in McAllen and was curious to see if anyone was requesting a Lyft. We assured him, considering all the holiday celebrations around town, he should be in for quite the busy night.
INSIDER'S TIP: If you are a first time user of Lyft, use the promo code RGV to receive a credit of up to $50.
Gaby: A short 10 minute drive and $5 bucks later, we had arrived at the block party. We were a bit too eager to commence the celebrations. People were still setting up and there was some confusion as to the entry and timeline of events. Nonetheless, the staff greeted us with a smile and a, "What can we get you?"
Trisha: With an endless variety of $1 drink shots, $3 specialty drinks, and festive food specials at $5 and under, we weren't sure where to begin! Without any hesitation we sat at the bar and proceeded to order up some promising tastey delights. We opted for some traditional fish and chips.
While waiting, we were served up some complimentary popcorn seasoned with bacon salt and green food dye mixed with butter. Now THAT was an unexpected treat for the taste buds!
Gaby: A bartender offered us her specialty drink called Jojo’s Sexy Alligator. My mind rapidly thought of the Ballet dancing alligators in Fantasia. The sexy shot contained a lot of Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, Malibu Rum and pineapple juice.
My only note on the fish and chips-I know we’re pretty far away from Ireland, but if you are offering fish and chips, make sure to have some malt vinegar. But now I am being too picky I suppose.
Trisha: I think we may have been looking a little thirsty because after JoJo’s sweet shot, we were treated to another bartender’s creative concoction. I’d previously asked for a Kelly Green colored shot and our server decided to fulfill my request with what Gaby and I deemed to be the Marcus’ Green. Talk about green goodness! Marcus’ on the spot creation consisted of vodka, tequila, lime and simple syrup, accompanied by a pickle shot chaser.
Gaby: I must say I felt pretty special that our bartender made us a specialty drink just for us when we he was put on the spot.
Trisha: After taking the obligatory St. Patrick’s Day photos (the selfie, the food post, the pose, the one with the bartenders, the one with Leprechaun cutouts), it was time to head out and proceed to our next destination. It was time for Lyft!
Gaby: Our ride took about 20 minutes to arrive because it was during a high traffic time. He was the only car available in a 4 mile radius. When he arrived I noticed that his car had an official Lyft sticker which is odd since the program is so new to the area.
Trisha: Yay, our ride was a Ford Focus! We didn't have to climb into our vehicle, nor did I hit my head this time while exiting.
Our driver had mentioned that he’d recently moved from Dallas and had been working for over a year with Lyft. He was pretty excited that Lyft was finally in the Rio Grande Valley. He was pretty cool. He would turn up music in the car, listen to our requests to change the radio station and would sing along with us once in a while.
Another 10 minutes and another $5, we had arrived at Bourbon Street Grill located on North 10th Street and Violet.
Gaby: By this time there was definitely a crowd and too many green drinks being offered. The Irish Car Bombs were a mess because the plastic shotglasses had a density of less than 1g/cm3 and caused them to float and not mix correctly with the rest of the beverage. Boom! Science!
Trisha: Huh, would you have ever of thought our column would talk about food and cover basic scientific concepts?
Gaby: In keeping along with the Spring season, Bourbon offered crawfish, amongst other food. Service was quick and always done with a smile.
Trisha: Live music was essential in setting the perfect vibe. It was the perfect combination of being able to enjoy chatting with your friends around you while sneaking in some singalongs with the music. The band Nugz played 90s and 200s rock throughout the evening.
Gaby: I sang some Incubus songs at the top of my lungs. Oh, Brandon Boyd!
Trisha: Our third ride of the evening was to University Draft House in Edinburg. We were worried that it wouldn't take us there because it was in a city where according to its government Lyft has not been approved. However, that wasn’t a problem. We were able to arrive at 2405 West University Drive.
Gaby: We were also able to add a stop to our ride on the way over and pick up some more friends. All in all our ride was an average of $11. Not too shabby!
Trisha: By this time it was prime hour for festivities. Both inside and out were completely packed but that did not deter our servers from, although being overwhelmed, providing great service. They, too, were serving crawfish plates and individual Shepard's pies.
Gaby: At this point of the evening all draft beverages were green, even a Double IPA which is a little bit too much for me. But to each his own. University Draft House has the gift to attract demographics of all ages. Millenials, X-gens, as well as Winter Texans were to be found.
Trisha: As it was time to go home, we were happy that we were able to request a Lyft since we had had a busy schedule.
Gaby: For me it was a peace of mind to be able to have someone take care of us after during a night of lots of work.
Trisha: In the future, we will go back to all these places individually. Our two biggest things that we wanted to showcase from this experience were: to show a small glimpse of the variety the upper Valley has to offer. Each place had its own quirk and something to offer; and to show that there is now a new (and safer) alternative to getting around town without breaking the bank or the law.
Gaby: We had a blast responsibly!
Gaby Jones and Trisha Watts work hand-in-hand with the service industry. Jones is in charge of craft and imported beer for L&F Distributors and Watts is the communications director for Visit McAllen. Each week they will have a new adventure and provide an opinion on various locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley.