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2023 Year in Review: Coffee, Restaurants, and More Places to Shop

Updated: Mar 17

(This article was written by Lisa Campos and appeared in the December 2023 issue of the Explore Harlingen Magazine. Updates since the original article was written have been included.)

2023 was a big year for new businesses opening in Harlingen. Since January, I have been tracking and sharing new business openings on my Explore Harlingen community page on Facebook. Although the majority of what I tracked were restaurants, Harlingen did see a few retailers open locations this year, with national chain, Academy Sports and Outdoors, as one of the biggest and most exciting store openings in recent Harlingen history. Their newly constructed location at 2831 W. Expressway 83 in the Harlingen Corners shopping center (next to Five Below), celebrated its grand opening weekend November 17-19, 2023, with its soft opening for friends and family starting on November 12, 5-9 pm.

Soft opening of the new Academy in Harlingen on November 12, 2023

Other new retailers that came to Harlingen this year included Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, a national discount closeout retailer, which opened on January 25 at Valle Vista Mall. Seasonal national store, Spirit Halloween, opened on August 12 at its temporary location at 1106 S. Expressway 83 and closed after Halloween.

Several coffee shops opened in Harlingen this year, giving some healthy competition to Starbucks. Two national chains, Dutch Bros Coffee, which opened on June 30, and Scooter’s Coffee, which opened on August 13, brought their well-known offerings to Harlingen. Dutch Bros demolished the building at 1601 W. Harrison to create their brand-new drive thru only shop, while Scooter's Coffee constructed a new building for their drive-thru only shop at 2304 S. 77 Sunshine Strip.

Additionally, several small coffee shops opened this year including:

  • 4 Dogs Roasting, which offers coffee and tea accessories and gifts, opened on February 9 at 108 W. Jackson.

  • Sovereign Coffee, of Brownsville, opened its second Rio Grande Valley (RGV) location in Harlingen on March 2 at 1733 S. 77 Sunshine Strip.

  • NAME UPDATE: Cafe 406 (formerly Sparrows Sip & Thrift), a coffee shop featuring Erika's Gourmet Cookies, opened in mid-August at 406 E. Harrison.

  • Tora Coffee & Tea, of Brownsville, opened its second location in Harlingen on September 29 at 620 W. Van Buren Ave.

In addition to coffee, Harlingen added several places for its residents to eat this year, including:

  • Ricardo's Restaurant, which has several locations throughout the RGV, opened on March 13 at 3201 S. Expressway 83, Unit C.

  • Jersey Mike's Subs, a national submarine sandwich shop, opened on March 22 at 2217 W. Lincoln.

  • Brady's Grill, a locally owned restaurant from La Feria, moved to Harlingen on May 6 at 610 Lewis Lane (however, they have since moved to San Antonio).

  • Mariscos Tulum, a Mexican seafood restaurant, opened on June 13 at 102 N. 77 Sunshine Strip.

  • Papas & Papas, a restaurant featuring build-your-own potatoes and potato tacos, opened on August 9 at 6704 W. Expressway 83, Suite D108.

  • Main Street Boutique & Bistro moved from San Benito to Harlingen on August 31 inside the El Mercado shopping center at 712 N. 77 Sunshine Strip, Suite 6.

  • Wings and Rings, a national wing restaurant and bar, opened on September 25 at 6710 W Expressway 77/83.

  • Harlingen’s first gourmet donut shop, Sugarz Gourmet Donuts, located at 224 E. Jackson in downtown Harlingen, held its soft opening on November 18.

My daughter's favorite dish at Wings and Rings in Harlingen: fried mozzarella.

The Moon Rock, Harlingen’s food truck park at 1811 W. Jefferson Ave., saw the arrival of two new trucks this year: a gourmet sandwich truck, Hatter's Sammiches, which opened on August 16, and Teddy's Barbecue of Weslaco, which launched its Harlingen food truck on August 25. UPDATE: Hatter's Sammiches relocated in December to the parking lot of Broken Tap on Ed Carey Drive.

A new local bar also opened in Harlingen this year. DRINK UP is a woman-owned bar that serves specialty cocktails, beer, and snacks. It is located at 1226 Morgan Blvd., in the former Feldman’s space.

The opening of Aguilar's Meat Market on October 5 was highly anticipated, as it had been in the works for close to three years. This market boasts “the freshest meat in the Valley,” and sells fresh produce, groceries, barbecue supplies, and more. It is located at 4226 S. Expressway 83.

The impressive meat display case at the new Aguilar's Meat Market in Harlingen.

Stefano’s Brooklyn Pizza, which burned down in December 2021, has spent the past two years rebuilding their location at 4201 W. Business 83. Their highly awaited reopening is expected to occur before the end of 2023.

Our neighbors in Combes and Primera also saw some new businesses, including a Love’s Country Store with a Godfather’s Pizza inside, which opened on April 24 in Combes and a new Dollar Tree at Stuart Place and Wilson, which opened on April 29 for Primera residents.

Additional businesses are in the process of coming to Harlingen, possibly in 2024, including:

  • Mr. Gatti’s, which closed because of the pandemic, included Harlingen as an upcoming location on their website. Address and estimated opening date are yet to be announced.

  • A simulated indoor golf course and bar called The Deep End at 8311 Business 83, is in the construction phase.

  • Cajun restaurant and bar, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux (near Bass Pro in the Cameron Crossing shopping center), is preparing for groundbreaking.

  • Black Bear Diner, a homestyle and old-fashioned comfort food café, is coming to 6706 W. Expressway 83.

  • Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply will occupy the space formerly occupied by Dillard’s department store at Valle Vista Mall.

  • UPDATE: Matt's Cash and Carry, broke ground on December 15 for its newest location in Harlingen, at 2650 N. Expresway 77

I will continue to track these new businesses and others as they are announced, on my Facebook page,


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