In honor of tomorrow being International Women’s Day, we’d like to dedicate this monthly installment of Dishin’ It to some awesome women making waves in our food industry. Nothing against you boys. You are cute and all, but it takes some unapologetically ambitious, intelligent, passionate, strong minded Boss Babes to succeed at a full time job and keep ourselves composed, while looking fabulous (or trying to be), all at once.
The first female-led operation that we visited this week is McAllen’s established, The Republic of the Rio Grande. Co-owner Sony Rego’s passion for food and providing her customers with a memorable experience are well defined at all three of her establishments (She also co-owns Santa Fe Steakhouse and University Draft House). Her love for great dining is only surpassed by her love of helping the community. As the lead for the Santa Fe Wine Classic and the University Draft House Beer Fest, she, along with her hardworking team, put together community events that help to raise scholarships for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, funds for the future South Texas Arts & Cultural Center and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.
As you walk into The Republic of the Rio Grande you are immediately captured by the spirit of the short-lived, independent republic whose capital was the city of Laredo. Stone columns and high ceilings create a feeling of grandiose. Pictures of soldiers from the 10-month battle that hang around the red-lit bar and the memorabilia found throughout the restaurant are details that complete the ambiance. When there isn’t a live band playing in the courtyard, the sounds of the falling water from the fountain provide the soundtrack to your outing.
You would have thought our adventure started on a Saturday night. Republic was packed and alive with the beats of Wednesday’s regular band. Seeing that there was a lack of open tables, we sacrificed ourselves and made our way over to the high tops at the bar.
Trisha: Let’s start with some Serrano Spinach Dip and one round of cucumber martinis, please. Oh, and some glasses of water.
Gaby: Yes to it all! What else?
We were handed our menus and everything from every page stood out and called our names. So many options, so little time, because we sure as heck had built up some appetites. Our fresh and tasty martinis landed and we seemed to have swallowed them whole before our creamy spinach dip accented with artichokes, serrano peppers and bacon served with homemade tortilla chips was placed on our table top.
Gaby: I know this town has a lot of great cucumber Martinis, but time after time, Republic’s does not disappoint. “One more round, please and thank you!”
Our server must of come about a thousand times to our table to check on us because we couldn’t decide on what else to order, but each time he came back with a smile and the patience of 100 Buddhas. We finally made up our minds and, in true Gaby and Trisha fashion, we ordered the Fajita Nachos, Buffalo Shrimp, Ceviche AND a Poblano Chicken Chowder to share.
Gaby: Just to clarify, we also had a guest at our table.
Trisha: Sure, doll, that makes it all better! LOL
Our small bar table was suddenly draped with even more homemade tortilla chips, nicely spread with cheddar cheese, black beans and grilled fajitas topped with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo. Plus, Republic’s guest favorite, Ceviche with Gulf Shrimp, fresh fish, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, serrano and lime juice. Yes, dear readers, we were indeed incredibly happy campers! And yes, we did get some looks directed our way.
Gaby: I could only assume restaurant guests were envious of our spread.
Trisha: Or they were just understandably shocked that we had submitted ourselves to a full cardiac arrest.
Gaby: I am sticking to my guns on this one. They were jelly.
Hardworking ladies of the RGV and beyond, make sure to salute yourselves and your fellow “Boss Babes” with a delicious cucumber Martini tomorrow at The Republic of the Rio Grande, located at 1411 South 10th Street, McAllen, TX. Their hours of operation are Monday through Wednesday 11:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Thursday 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.; Friday through Saturday 11:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m.; closed on Sunday. You can reach them at (956) 994-8385 or follow them on Facebook @ElRepublic or Instagram @republicoftheriogrande.
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.