McAllen is a city located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, known as El Valle to locals, in the southern most region of Texas 5 miles away from the Mexican border in Hidalgo County. It has a population of just over 120,000. Over 80% of it's residents are comprised of Hispanic descent. The surrounding metropolitan consists of Pharr, San Juan, Alamo, Mission, Edinburg and Reynosa (Tamaulpias, Mexico) with a total population of over 1.7 million.
Geographically McAllen is flat, green, palm tree inhabited, hot and humid with temperatures in the summer reaching over 100 degrees being the norm. Anything under 70 degrees is considered cold and freezing to the residents.
The three high schools that exist in McAllen is McAllen High, Nikki Rowe High, and McAllen Memorial High. McAllen High and Nikki Rowe High from 1997-2003 were notorious for the high rate of gang activity from drugs, fights, brawls, stabbings etc.
The city itself is one of the fastest growing and most prominent cities for business. Major development has occurred in the past 3 years which has influenced many to establish residency in McAllen to take advantage of the business opportunities on the rise.
McAllen like any other city has its bad parts and good parts. Majority of crime is focused on the South Side off S. 23rd and S. 10th St. but there are plenty of neighborhoods with little to no crime in the same area. Lesser crime exists on the East Side and mild crime on the West Side. On the North Side crime tends to shift its concentration. From 1994-2003 crime was focused in two neighborhoods on N. 23rd street off Mona St. and Heron Ave. but due to heavy law enforcement influence crime dramatically decreased.
As far as entertainment, there is Hollywood USA Theater off 2nd St. and Nolana Loop surrounded by a plethora of restaurants. There also numerous clubs and parks for social interaction or leisure. Also South Padre Island is less than an hour away and Mexico is less than 15 minutes away.
For authentic Mexican food the best places to go to are Taco Palenque on S. 23rd, El Pato on 23rd. and 10th St. (close to the South Side), Taqueria El Zarape and Tico's located on N. 23rd. Also there is a small white taco stand that sells some of the best tacos ever. As far as Taco Bell, Valley residents and Hispanics in general consider it a disgrace and far from "authentic" Mexican food.
Traffic over the years has gotten more and more congested and driver's in McAllen (and the Valley) in general drive slow and very close behind each other.
People are either the friendliest or the rudest, there really is no in between. It's best to be friendly to everybody if you are an outsider because due to the heavy influence and involvement many people have with the Drug Cartels from Mexico, you might say the wrong thing to the wrong person and regret it, ESPECIALLY if that person is from Pharr, San Juan, Alamo, La Joya, Brownsville, certain parts of Edinburg, South McAllen and certain parts of North and North East McAllen.
Overall McAllen and the entire Rio Grande Valley is another world all it's own. As Katt Williams would put it "This is the most dirtiest, nastiest, God forsaken, most beautiful, glorious, place in the United States of America. The only place where you can either get hammered in Mexico for less than twenty dollars or get kidnapped by a Drug Cartel in the middle of the night."
If you ever go to McAllen or anywhere in the Rio Grande Valley, don't ever mention the words 'Taco' and 'Bell' in the same sentence.