Dear Foodies,

I think I died and went to heaven. Seriously! I have found a drive-thru restaurant beyond compare (it doesn’t hurt that it’s walking distance from my house) located in McAllen.

This little take out restaurant the size of a cubicle has me spreading the word to everyone I know. Owners Lorenzo and Dolores de los Reyes opened their doors (better yet, window) to the public on July 23 of this year. I had just arrived from my summer vacation when I noticed the sign “Max Jay Fish & Shrimp” outside their building. I thought to myself — gee, another risk taker at this location. The reason is, this complex has seen many a restaurant, so I wasn’t too sure these new owners had what it took to make it.

Needless to say, Lorenzo formally invited me to come try his food early one evening (8 p.m.) because the sun would be going down and there would be a slight breeze. My husband, Dan, and daughter, Odette, accompanied me to this little oasis. They have a little patio set up outside with a deck and stools for those who want to dine there. There are also tiki torches that surround the white building and a little T.V. just in case you need to entertain the little ones.

As soon as we arrived Lorenzo introduced us to Chef Salvador Huerta. You read that correctly. CHEF. There he was inside this little space wearing the tall chefs hat and a black smock. He was a soft spoken (I figured his food would do the talking) young man from Guadalajara, Mexico. The menu offered the perfect amount of items that I’m sure would please just about anyone — especially those foodies who crave authentic Mexican seafood.

My daughter and husband both ordered the Sirloin Taco Combination platter ($5.99) that is served with charro beans and a drink. I just looked at Lorenzo and handed him my menu and said — impress me! No, the truth is that Lorenzo and Chef Huerta already had two dishes they wanted me to try. As the food was being prepared we were enjoying our Manzanita ($1.50) which is a Mexican apple flavored soft drink and our tostaditas (chips). We also dipped our chips into some homemade red and green (creamy) salsas that had the perfect amount spice which kept me coming back for more.

Then, the hot charro beans (16 oz. $2.50) arrived. My husband oohed and aahed the minute he tasted these beans. I’ve had frijoles charros before but these were out of this world. I could taste the jalapeno, pork and chicken sausage, onions, fresh tomatoes, cilantro and vinegar in the beans (I’m sure there was a secret ingredient).

Lorenzo served us our dishes and were we ever surprised. For instance, the sirloin tacos (two corn tortillas per taco) made a perfect circle around the plate, the design was a (edible) flower — how creative, and in the center there was a peeled baked potato with cheddar cheese, butter, bacon and sour cream. These are typical Mexican tacos served with white onions (chopped) and cilantro only. My daughter loves to squeeze limes on to her meat (my little Mexicanita).

What arrived next would send me to heaven. The shrimp burger ($9.99) and homemade fries. They served it on a colorful plate which had romaine lettuce leaves adorning all the fresh produce (slices of avocado, tomato and raw onions) and the luscious hamburguesa de camaron. The grilled garlic shrimp with white cheese which has been grilled (crispy and gooey goodness) on to the buttery bun is phenomenal.

Chef Huerta’s talents with regional Mexican are evident in the “Camaron Agua Chile” ($9.99). This particular dish is a refreshing cold shrimp (sliced in half) salad which has been cooked in lime juice (like ceviche). The cucumbers and white onions (julienned) fill the plate. There are also sliced tomatoes and avocados plus sprinkles of red chili pepper. The onions are not overpowering because they are soaked in cold water (takes that strong taste away). This healthy and delicious salad will outshine anything you’ve had at a fine dinning restaurant in the Valley.

The menu is amazing and equally delicious. I’m sure many of you hard working foodies drive around wondering what can I have for lunch today? Or dinner? Or event a late night snack? Max and Jay (named after their two sons) Fish and Shrimp has your solution! Lorenzo even offers free delivery ($30 minimum) if you are in Mission, Edinburg and McAllen. This is a plus, especially if you are planning a business meeting at work or if your schedule does not allow you to get away. There’s catering for private dinners (20 people) which I think is great for any lady who wants to entertain.

Some other menu items include shrimp soup, grilled fish with steamed vegetables, fried shrimp, fajita platter with cheese, baked potato with shredded beef and (ask him to make you one of his shrimp and cheese empanadas!) more. Honestly, I have never met such a hard working family. I still can’t believe this little take out joint has such complex and creative dishes — in fact many of our local Chefs are dining there after hours. You’ll know why.

Buen Provecho,

Madame Gourmand

6700 N. 23rd Ste. E. McAllen. 956-310-5883. Open: Monday-Saturday. Lunch: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. / Dinner: 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.