Technically speaking, Cinco de Mayo marks Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Pueblo (blah, blah, blah). And while we can appreciate a little history, what we’re really after is the culinary celebration — salt-rimmed margaritas, tortilla chips, and mountains of guacamole. There are plenty of places to celebrate this year and an exciting new crop of Mexican joints to try this Cinco De Mayo. From taquitos to tequila, we’re keying you in to the best in Mexican fare…
Address: 354 Bowery
Chef Julian Medina isn’t taking Cinco de Mayo lightly. In fact, Toloache’s hosting its 5th Cinco De Mayo weekend with a celebratory French Invasion Margarita with a unique blend of tequila, tarragon, spring peas and lime, and a Mexican Passion Margarita with pineapple, horseradish and Valentina sauce. There’s a $50 menu with pork belly tacos, tamales, skirt steak fajitas, roasted pork shoulder and more. Oh, and all of the entrees come with rice and beans, Toloache salad, corn tortillas, and a trio of salsas. And they’re all served family-style so you’d be wise to bring friends. The more the merrier for Cinco de Mayo.
Hecho en Dumbo
Address: 354 Bowery
What started out as a pop-up taco shop in Dumbo is now the latest and coolest Mexican joint to hit the Bowery. Chef Danny Mena’s menu of antojitos, “little cravings,” pays homage to the modern cooking of Mexico City with refined takes on traditional dishes, like roasted goat, short rib tacos, and grilled Mexican cactus. The breads, salsas, tortillas, and cheeses are all made in-house, along with a killer list of house cocktails, all made with fresh squeezed juices. Take the Tres Vidas cocktail, for example. It’s a smoky, well-balanced blend of mezcal, smoked chile meco, bell peppers and fresh lime juice. Grab a few friends and share the parillada classica. Meant for two (but easily feeds four), this grilled assortment of meats, vegetables, tortillas, and house salsas make for the perfect tableside fiesta.
Address: 9 East 18th St., btwn. Fifth Ave. & Broadway (multiple locations)
If you really want to get in the spirit, Rosa Mexicano’s hosting a serious fiesta this Cinco De Mayo. Now that Jonathan Waxman (of Barbuto fame) is consulting on the menu it’s all the more reason to celebrate here. Year round, you’ll find roving guacamole carts and pitcher-sized margaritas, but for Cinco de Mayo, they’re pulling out all the stops, including a mariarichi band. They’ll be serving special cocktails, like the Coco De Mayo, a margarita and pina colada in one, flavored tequila shots, and un fumo all’alba, a tequila-based cocktail with kumquats, lime, and a mezcal floater. Rosa’s also offering a special Cinco De Mayo menu with specials, like carne asada and baja-style fish.
Address: 311 West 17th Street
Many Mexican food snobs swear by Sue Torres’s regional Mexican cooking. We’d come just for the homemade tortillas (Sue’s an expert on the subject), but there’s plenty more to discover, including an extensive tequila and mezcal menu, not to mention six kinds of margaritas. And for Cinco De Mayo, Torres is adding a few drink specials, including a strawberry-jalapeno margarita, a michelada or tequila with sangrita. Even better, Suenos is getting an early start on the festivities, opening at noon with a special brunch menu with artichoke quesadillas, chicken enchiladas and much more. We haven’t even mentioned the vast array of tacos and tostadas, or better yet, the lobster sopes or pork carnitas. For dessert, there’s churros, sweet tamales and tres leches.
Mesa CoyoacanAddress: 372 Graham Ave., btwn. Silkman and Conselyea Sts.
We’ve been fans of this Williamsburg spot and its standout mole since it opened just a few years ago. To celebrate, Mesa Coyoacan’s cooking up Mexico’s iconic pozole soup along with favorites, like cow tongue, grilled skirt steak, and braised pulled pork tacos.. If you really want to get in the spirit, order the poblano en nogado, a traditional dish that reflects the colors of the Mexican flag. Here, a poblano pepper is stuffed with a savory–sweet mix of shredded pork, chicken, peaches, pears, apples and almonds, all topped off with a creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. And don’t miss out on the Margarita de Tamarindo.
Address: 525 Hudson St., nr. Charles St. (Multiple locations)
Phone: (212) 924-4119
This quaint eatery iin the West Village is known for its regional Mexican cooking, flan of the day, and a host of homemade salsas. While it’s no frills, it’s always festive and fun. Get in the spirit with enchilada rojas, your choice chicken, vegetable, barbacoa,or chicken mole burritos, or taco de Puerco – corn tortillas filled with roasted pork.
Dos Toros Taqueria
Address: 11 Carmine St., btwn. 6th Ave. & Bleecker Sts. (multiple locations)
Phone: (212) 627-2051
If you don’t have time for a nightlong celebration, Dos Toros is the move. Nostalgic for the tacos they grew up eating in California, Brothers Leo and Oliver Kremer banded together to bring West Coast Mexican to New York. What started as a teeny taqueria has quickly grown into a Dos Toros empire with affordable, but exciting food and some of the best guacamole we’ve had to date. The menu is simple with your choice of tacos, quesadillas or burritos stuffed with Carnitas (chipotle smoked pork), Pollo Asado (grilled chicken) or Carne Asada (grilled steak). But they’re serious about they’re ingredients, including the tortillas, which come from Tortilla Nixtamel in Queens.
Address: 19 Cleveland Pl. btwn Lafayette & Mulberry Sts. (multiple locations)
Phone: (212) 343-0140
Tune your dials to Mexican Radio. With fifteen years of serving Mexican comfort food with an emphasis on local ingredients, this restaurant has more than a few classics worth stopping in for.. For starters there’s chips and salsa, Radio nachos, and the oven-roasted poblano peppers. How often do you see Mexican mac n’ cheese? Here,its studded with corn, jalepenos, poblanos, and a whole lotta cheese. Oh, and there’s more, like the huevos rancheros for dinner, a mix of rice and beans, pico de gallo, cheese, crèma, and, of course eggs, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. We highly recommend the margaritas as they’re made with freshly squeezed lime juice.
Address: 104-05 47th Ave., btwn 104th & 108th Sts. (Queens)
Phone: (718) 699-2434
It doesn’t get much more authentic than this Queens taqueria, which is why so many restaurants buy their tortillas here, including Dos Toros. Owners Fernando Ruiz and Shauna Page are determined to deliver a true taste of Mexico to New Yorkers, including eight kinds of savory and sweet tamales, cactus tacos, and chilaquilles verdes. There’s even a nightly mariachi band, which will be out in full force in honor of the occasion.
Cinco de Mayo
39-32 Bell Blvd. Bayside Blvd. (Queens)
Phone: (718) 224-0330
The sounds of salsa music practically spill out onto the street at this festive spot. As the restaurant’s name suggests, they celebrate this Mexican holiday all year round, but May 5th is the perfect opportunity to take a trip to Queens.. Kickstart your fiesta with beef empanadas and Cinco de Mayo’s signature cocktail, the Mexican Bulldog, part beer part frozen margarita. And don’t leave without trying the chicken chimichanga or the sizzling steak fajita.