Dear Foodies,

I welcome “Cabritos Nuevo Leon Restaurant” which has been delighting it’s faithful customers for nine years in Reynosa, Mexico, and has recently opened up a new place right here in McAllen. Locals have been flocking to this restaurant because of its delectable and diverse dishes from the region of Nuevo Leon. This restaurant’s specialty, as its name suggests, is cabrito (kid goat) which is complex in flavor, but subtle, retaining the wonderful flavors from the meat. I know folks who balk at goat. Why? It’s low in fat and cholesterol, tangier than lamb, and stays juicy when slow roasted.

I am extremely pleased to see how well this restaurant has been doing in such a short amount of time, but I’m not surprised. The minute you walk in it’s like stepping into Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. The ambiance of earthy tones and rustic decor are fit for a cowboy. Patrons find themselves in a relaxed setting that is acceptable for all ages.

I was accompanied to this fine establishment with my (frustrated) father and (grumpy) daughter. I had them running errands with me all day so, needless to say, they were more than ready to eat lunch by 2 p.m. — PRONTO! As I drove down Nolana I said — This is it! Let’s just eat here (not knowing what I was walking into). Thank goodness our cheerful and attentive waitress Lupita was quick about bringing over some crispy tostaditas with a variety of homemade salsas as we glanced at the menu.

It’s obvious the restaurant wants to unite diners around a collective passion for Mexican cuisine (Northern part) with authentic dishes that often beg to be shared. Everyone around us was savoring their parrilladas filled with sizzling fajita, chicken, gizzards and sausage — this is the ultimate carnivore’s paradise. The trio of men playing such beautiful Spanish ballads added the perfect touch to this restaurant.

My father (Belarmino Castellanos) and daughter (Odette) were finally in heaven when they were eating the delicious queso flameado melted in with chorizo and mushrooms served with soft homemade corn tortillas ($7.35) I ordered as an appetizer. Traditional zesty frijoles rancheros are served as you wait along with a fresh house salad (if you order an entree) and a loaded baked potato. Not deterred by the amount of food already ingested — we powered on for the main course. Ay, Caramba!

Our eyes and mouth opened up when we saw the dish that my father had ordered. The “Pierna” ($19.99 — four could share this dish) which means leg, is a tender part of the cabrito that falls apart at the touch of your fork. My father was a happy camper making his own goat taquitos and my daughter was busy satisfying her cravings.

The other specialties, like the superb grilled beef cuts, should not be overlooked. For instance the famous roasted “Agujas,” the “Cortadillo de Res” and the “Machitos” which are chopped entrails of the kid goat that are cased in the intestines to make a sort of sausage (a bit like boudin). This warm atmosphere is also intensified by the large glass window where one can see the goats roasting and the tortillas being prepared by hand. The servers look very sharp wearing the regional attire from Nuevo Leon (red bandana, black pants and white shirt) and their professionalism is beyond compare.

I had a chance to congratulate Ramon Allan Gonzales and Guadalupe Auralia Rios who manage and operate this restaurant. I noticed they were busy making sure everyone was taken care of and also took the time to welcome all the familiar faces and new customers.

After our gratifying lunch (we did take a doggie bag home with some cabrito — just incase my mother thinks my dad over ate) we decided it was time for a siesta. I’m glad we ended up at “Cabritos Nuevo Leon” that day — which became a memorable experience. I also highly recommend the true Mexican “all you care to eat” breakfast buffet which is only $5.99. I’ll see you there!

Arriba los del Norte,

Madame Gourmand

Location: 2200 W. Nolana (and 23rd) McAllen. Phone: 956-631-9997 and 956-631-9998.