What’s not to love about May? Flowers are blooming, it’s warm, but not too hot, we can finally eat and drink outside, and oh yeah, the month kicks off with the taco eating, margarita swilling celebration known as Cinco de Mayo! Granted, it falls on a Tuesday this year, but that’s no excuse not to party, with a tequila flight at Anejo, a mariachi band at El Vez, or a refined, sit-down dinner at Cosme.
Cosme: Who says Cinco de Mayo needs to be a drunk and disorderly three ring circus? Instead of downing plastic cups of sangria and chowing on chips and salsa in a day-glow cantina or bar, enjoy highly refined and nuanced Mexican fare at the impossibly hot Flatiron restaurant, Cosme — including Cobia Pastor, Duck Carnitas, and Half Lobster Pibil, followed by the rightly ballyhooed Husk Meringue dessert.
Tijuana Picnic: Nightlife gurus Jon Neidich and Jean-Marc Houmard (Acme, Indochine, The Happiest Hour) are behind this retro-chic Lower East Side establishment, serving cocktails such as the “Mayan Michelada” from a subterranean bar. But former Kittichai chef, Alex Lopex, makes sure the spot isn’t all flash, with a menu of Antojitos (including Pickled Pigs Feet Tostadas), Pinchos (Mako Shark Skewers), and family-style Large Plates (Pork Chops marinated in coconut milk).
Empellon Al Pastor: The newest addition to Alex Stupak’s Empellon family, this slim taqueria has been packing them in since day one, with its namesake, spit-roasted pork and pineapple Tacos (you can also order your tortillas stuffed with beef tongue, oyster mushrooms, chipotle-rubbed chicken or nopales). There’s also a surprisingly broad assortment of libations, including beer and cider, agave, margaritas, and micheladas from famous, contributing chefs, including Andrew Zimmern’s “El Chambovaca,” made with tomato juice, beef broth, Tecate, and Dulce Vida 100 Reposado.
El Vez: This new, Mexican addition to Stephen Starr’s restaurant dynasty is welcoming in a mariachi band on Cinco de Mayo, which will provide the perfect backdrop to especially festive dishes, such as Snapper Aguachile, Queso Fundido, Oxtail Enchiladas and Crab Tostadas, accompanied by frozen Blood Orange Margaritas, Mezcal Martinis, or a taste from their extensive selection of tequilas.
Rosa Mexicano: This 30-year-old Mexican cantina is kicking off their “5 Days of Cinco” celebration this Friday — culminating on May 5th, and featuring a prix-fixe fiesta menu, specialty margaritas and select pitcher cocktails all week long. For $35, enjoy your choice of Guacamole en Molcajete or Nachos de Tres Quesos to share, an entrée such as Chile Rellenos, Salmon Poblano or Carne Asada, and Rosa’s signature cinnamon-sugar Churros en Bolsa with three dipping sauces for dessert.
Anejo: Considering it’s named after quality, aged tequila, why wouldn’t you want to spend Cinco de Mayo at Anejo, owned by Top Chef’s Angelo Sosa? For only $19, you can order a Tequila Flight with a Guacamole Sampler (the trio includes traditional, pineapple chipotle, and verde; made with tomatillos, pomegranate, poblanos and pumpkin seeds), and enjoy raffles and free giveaways, like a make-your-own margarita tote!