Americans love Mexican food.
As of March 2018, there were more than 62,000 Mexican restaurants in the U.S., making it 8 percent of the total national restaurant scene, and the second most popular menu. (Hello, Taco Tuesday!)
So when a holiday comes along that encourages people to unabashedly fill themselves with tacos and tequila, it’s clear – we are all in.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over Napoleon III’s French forces on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. Although a surprisingly low-key day in Mexico, we Americans consider this a top celebration.
Restaurant management platform Upserve analyzed millions of transactions from thousands of restaurants in 2017, and found that on Cinco de Mayo, tequila is queen, with liquor sales exceeding beer by a whopping 73 percent. (To that end, peep Fleming’s Prime Steak House’s $100 Cinco de Mayo margarita in a take-home Baccarat glass.) But there are ways to take things beyond doing a shot and calling it un día.
Here are a few restaurants’ Cinco de Mayo promotions set to make the fifth of May number one on their customers’ spring party circuit.
“We’re incredibly excited to up the ante with this year’s Cinco de Mayo. We wanted to give back to our community, so we added fun chihuahua races, with all of monies raised benefitting Jupiter Dog Rescue,” says Calaveras Cantina owner Curtis Peery, aka “El Presidente.” Taking place on hay tracks, people can enter their pups to win bragging rights and Calaveras Cantina gift cards.
The annual block party at this Intracoastal Waterway restaurant in Jupiter, Florida, continues with live music and plenty of Mexican eats. The outdoor Taco Tent serves up tacos, guacamole and salsa, while the outdoor bars are go-to spots for tequila, craft margaritas, mojitos, and mucho cerveza. The mariachi band kicks off at 1 pm, giving way later in the evening to DJ Lucho spinning tunes.
Mi Corazon Silver Lake in Los Angeles will also host a live mariachi band because, according to owner Jeremy Swan, it brings about all the feels.
“Anytime you have live music and especially something so culturally specific, it adds a festive element to the day,” explains Swan. “Mariachi music is so happy and so sad at the same time that it just makes you want to drink more tequila.”
Restaurateurs are always trying to stay ahead of changing consumer tastes. But the secret sauce is knowing what’s hype and what’s hot. Tacos are a safe bet says data in this industry report, based on millions of restaurant transactions nationwide.Download The Report
Mi Corazon is happy to oblige with the day’s special Banderita trio of tequila, lime, and housemade sangrita as red, green, and white shots paying homage to the Mexican flag.
Because the annual Kentucky Derby actually shares this May day, you can get even more creative with a party that’s truly a horse of a different color. Embracing their “Cinco de Derby” day, Kings Dining and Entertainment is having an all-day celebration at their Massachusetts locations with margaritas, a Derby Race contest, giveaways, and a DJ.
“This year we’re excited to merge two great traditions of Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby,” says Doug Warner, vice president of marketing & business development at Kings. “We got creative and crafted our Mint Julep Margarita, a hybrid of the traditional drinks. We, of course, encourage guests to wear their oversized ‘derby sombreros.’”
“Mariachi music is so happy and so sad at the same time that it just makes you want to drink more tequila.” -Jeremy Swan
Oversized would be an understatement for the sombrero needed to top off the giant ice skull chef Jason Santos is planning for his May 5 party at Citrus & Salt. Standing at about four feet high, it’s an element he hopes will be one of the show-stoppers at his new Mexi-Cali spot in Boston. There will also be tequila-soaked food specials and a digital photo booth for tequila-soaked Instagram evidence.
“Cinco de Mayo is one of those days that day-drinking is acceptable,” says Santos. “Just make sure everyone has their Uber and Lyft apps downloaded to get home safely!”