Cinco de Mayo is one of those popular holidays that inspire Americans to celebrate Mexican culture by throwing back tequila drinks and eating authentic Mexican food. The point is to have a party, even if the majority of the celebrants are under the wrong impression that May 5 is a celebration of Mexican Independence Day. The real history of Cinco de Mayo has been lost over time — even the citizens of Mexico don’t make a big deal of Cinco de Mayo, except in the state of Puebla, which is where the whole thing got started. Yes, there was a conflict between Mexican President Benito Juárez and Napoleon III, yes, General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín easily defeated the larger French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but did you know the fight was about the separation of church and state? Cinco de Mayo may be a Mexican-themed day to party, but the reason behind it is as American as apple pie. Here are our recommendations of where to salute the general with a “Salud!” this Cinco de Mayo in the DMV:
City Tap House
If you like to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a cold brew, then head to City Tap House where beer is king. Tomorrow, they are offering two cazuela specials from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. For $25 the first cazuela includes a beer braised beef short rib with mole negro sauce, and the second cazuela, for $20, is a beer braised chicken with salsa verde and lime crema. Both cazuelas are served with pico de gallo, guacamole, Mexican rice, black beans, and flour tortillas. Then quench your thirst with a special selection of $3 Mexican beers by bottle or can.
Tomorrow, both El Centro locations will be putting out buffet spreads from noon to 11 p.m. for just $15 per person (cash only at the door). You can dine on a range of Mexican comfort foods like chicken flautas, vegetable empanadas, pork carnitas tacos, hanger steak skewers, and more. For your drinking pleasure you can order $5 cocktails like the El Centro Margarita with house-made strawberry or mango puree; tequilas infused with pineapple, Serrano chilies, or watermelon; or choose from classic Mexican beers like Corona, Dos Equis, and Tecate. Call each restaurant for reservations or you’ll get nada to eat.
Fuego Cocina y Tequileria
In Spanish, fuego cocina y tequileria literally means “fire kitchen and tequila bar,” and at chef Jeff Tunks’ restaurant Fuego Cocina y Tequileria, the Cinco de Mayo festivities are hot, hot, hot. On Tuesday, May 5 the party starts at 3:30 p.m. with a Tequila Throwdown. Guests choose the best tequila from four producers (Casamigos, Tres Agaves, Patron, and Milagro); the winner is chosen at 5 p.m., and that tequila then will be featured in Fuego's "El Perfecto" cocktail for the remainder of 2015. Fuego will offer their regular Taco Tuesday special that includes $5 taco plates from 4 to 7 p.m. Not a fan of tequila? Choose from other specialty cocktails priced at $5 from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.
For Cinco de Mayo, Masa 14 is offering a buffet with additional passed hors d’oeuvres and $5 Mexican beer from noon to close. The price is $20 at the door (cash only) and includes their customary Latin-Asian fare like pork belly steamed buns, octopus tostada, Latin-style roasted pork with yuzu guacamole and tortillas, tofu tacos, sweet plantains with crema, and veggie spring rolls.
At Mio Restaurant, executive chef Roberto Hernandez has created a Cinco de Mayo experience based on the cuisine of Ciudad de Mexico (otherwise known as the capitol city of Mexico). His appetizer and entrée specials will carry through to Wednesday, May 6 and be available from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can choose from dishes like tacos al pastor with slow stewed pork, a five salsa sampler with corn tortilla chips, sopa de Oaxaca con huevo made with a poached egg, cheese, and pasilla chilies, and then drink cold Mexican beer for $5 during happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m.
Relative newcomer Tico is celebrating its first Cinco de Mayo in D.C. and offering dinner, cocktail, and porron specials. The special dinner menu includes dishes like chicken or mushroom quesadillas, lobster tostadas, and chipotle flank steak complemented by tequila based cocktails, agua fresca with tamarind, and chef/owner Michael Schlow’s favorite: paloma porron that’s a blend of tequila, lime, and grapefruit soda.
Zengo and Toro Toro
Zengo and Toro Toro are both hosting bar-centric Cinco de Mayo specials at 3 p.m. and will be serving complimentary passed hors d’oeuvres and chips and salsa along with $5 drink specials that include the classic, strawberry, and mango Margaritas, Corona and Tecate beers, and house red and white wines.