Happy Cinco de Mayo—a day where we celebrate the culture of our neighbors to the south by doing absolutely nothing cultural, like drinking tequila and gorging ourselves on tacos. El Cinco marks the date that the Mexican Army defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (
their Independence Day). The victory didn't have long-term political significance (which is why it's mostly celebrated in Puebla and er, the U.S.), but imagine what May 5 would be like if our compadres had failed—we might be celebrating with crepes and Courvoisier instead (not exactly the stuff that epic parties are made of). So in honor of the brave soldiers who kept the French out of Mexico (at least for a year), let's get on to the tequila and tacos part. We've put together a list of festivities both low-key and loco, in (almost) every 'hood. Salud!
Why aren’t you drinking yet? Oh, right, because it’s the middle of the day. Well the folks at Cabrito think that’s a lousy excuse and have already started their fiesta. If you've ever stopped by their Movie Mondays, you already know these folks can party, and since Cinco de Mayo happens to coincide with the restaurant’s second anniversary, today will be no exception. They have transformed their space into an island oasis, complete with sand, pink flamingos, piñatas, kiddie pools and of course, two tiki bars serving specialty cocktails ($5) and draft beer ($3-$5). To keep your stomach full and ready for more shots, chef David Schuttenberg will be whipping up $3 flautas all day long. So tell your boss you need the day off and start getting borracha with the best of them.
50 Carmine St.(Bleecker & Bedford), West Village, 212.929.5050
Dos Caminos Meatpacking
If you’re flying solo tonight, head to the Meatpacking’s newest meet-market, where the bar’s always packed, the food’s always good, and the margaritas pack a powerful punch (and all this in their first two weeks of business)! For the occasion, all of the Dos Caminos restaurants will feature a specialty menu including king crab guacamole, but only at the Meatpacking installment can you have your ancho roasted pork tenderloin fired up in a wood oven. So knock back a few prickly pear margaritas and say “Hola” to that good-looking stranger across the way…before you know it, you’ll be splitting a tres leches on the outdoor patio.
675 Hudson St.(@ 14th St.), Meatpacking District, 212.699.2400
La Biblioteca at Zengo
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the connoisseurs at Zengo’s underground tequila library, La Biblioteca. Starting at 9pm, all bottles and flights of their 400 Tequilas & Mezcals are 25% off. Bottles are served with fresh sangrita, or a shaker, sour mix and salt to craft your own margaritas. Not sure you can polish off a purchase in one sitting? No problemo, aficionados may store personal bottles in La Biblioteca’s private tequila lockers for up to six months free of charge, so any day can at least feel like the fifth of May!
622 3rd Ave. (@ 40th st.), Midtown, 212.808.8110
If you’re looking for a low-key evening (well, as tame as an evening at a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo can be) make a dinner resi at Maya, Richard Sandoval’s vibrant haunt on the Upper East Side. Set to the sounds of a live mariachi band, the restaurant will be offering an exquisite three-course tasting menu, featuring a sampling of all their appetizers and some specialty main courses. Best of all, their bar features over 100 tequilas and mescals, making for some mean ‘ritas. The meal is $50 and the drinks are extra, so just make sure to come with mucho dinero.
1191 1st Ave. (64th & 65th Sts.), Upper East Side, 212.585.1818
If you like your drinks the same way you like your salsa—muy picante—then head to Mercadito for “The Hottest Drink on Earth” a.k.a. the Vato Loco (rough translation: the crazy guy, a.k.a. you
if you decide to order it). All the Mercadito locales are featuring live mariachi music, $5 shots of tequila and a specialty tasting menu for $30 per person, which includes samples of their famous guacs, tacos and ceviches. Sounds like a perfect way to celebrate with some amigos. Andale over to your phone and make a reservation!
179 Ave. B (11th & 12th Sts.), East Village, 212.529.6490
The Hudson Terrace
The sun is shining and the tequila is flowing, so why not take advantage of the Hudson Terrace’s beautiful roof deck to celebrate under the sol? Happy hour starts at 5pm and features free Pyrat Rum Punch until 6pm (RSVP at email@example.com), and dos por uno (2 for 1) specials until 7pm. Meanwhile, guests wanting to try a slew of authentic Mexican beverages (and get a little tipsy), can sign up for a tasting featuring a variety of tequilas, margaritas, sangrias and cervezas for $40. The tasting runs from 7pm-9pm (doors at 6pm) and tickets can be purchased at hudsonterracenyc.ticketleap.com
621 W. 46th St. (11th & 12th Aves), Hell’s Kitchen, 212.315.9400
The Parkside Lounge
Normally we might scoff at a Cinco De Mayo party thrown by someplace other than a Mexican restaurant, but The Parkside Lounge won us over with one main attraction: piñatas...filled with booze
! That’s right, take revenge on all those papier-mâché animals you couldn’t defeat in your childhood and earn the equivalent of a round of shots for the entire bar. Meanwhile the bar will offer top shelf margaritas ($5), buckets of Coronas ($12) and a comedy act followed by a burlesque show courtesy of Cabaret Luxe. As an added bonus, show up wearing a sombrero or a Mexican wrestler’s mask and you'll score a Modelo on the house!
317 E. Houston St. (Aves. B & C), Lower East Side, 212.673.6270