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Cinco de Mayo marks Mexico’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, but, for whatever reason, it’s a drinking holiday in the United States. Regardless of why, it’s hard to argue with a day earmarked for enjoying the wealth of Mexican food and drink in Houston. (Let’s see: tacos and margaritas for dinner versus figuring out what to do with frozen chicken at home. Is this even a question?) Bars and restaurants all over town have celebrations and specials planned that are sure to set a festive mood. There’s even a coffee special in this list.
If you’re planning to go out, you can try and score an extra $10 to tip your awesome bartender from Jose Cuervo Tequila’s Tip It Forward sweepstakes. The bar and restaurant industry was hit really hard by the COVID pandemic for two years, so if you win, the generous tip — especially on a busy holiday — is sure to be appreciated. Of course, you’re going to tip generously anyway, because you’re a good person. Right?
Additionally, Jose Cuervo is matching every dollar given away with a donation to Another Round Another Rally, which provides emergency assistance to hospitality workers. Entries must be received by 7:59 p.m. on Cinco de Mayo. Make sure you have a Venmo account and enter with phone number associated with it. The money will appear there if you win.
El Big Bad, 419 Travis: The downtown Mexican restaurant that specializes in infused tequilas is serious about Cinco de Mayo fun — and its margaritas, which are actually checked with a refractometer to ensure the balance is right. Try flavor infusions such as strawberry, jalapeño, red beet or churro. For the holiday, happy hour is from 2 to 5 p.m., but there’s also an all-day drink special on El Big Bad’s premium margaritas made with Astral Blanco Tequila and Liquid Nitrogen Margaritas. The event will have activities like Cinco de Mayo Holiday Market presented by Houston Latina Bloggers (5-10 p.m.), face painting (5-10 pm), DJ (10 p.m.-2 a.m.) and Mariachi (8:30-9:30 p.m.). As always kitchen is open late until 2 am with last orders at 1:30 am. Online orders are also available for takeout, including food, margaritas by the single and batch, margarita mix and infused tequila.
Due to the popularity of El Big Bad’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations, reservations are not accepted and tables are available on a first come first served. basis. Visit the Facebook event page for more information and details on weekend festivities.
The Original Ninfa’s, 1700 Post Oak: While it’s Cinco de Mayo, Top Chef: Houston is airing the same night. We still have hometown chef Evelyn Garcia in the running, so the Galleria location of The Original Ninfa’s is hosting a watch party from 6 to 9 p.m. Bar director Angel Belman created a drink to celebrate both occasions: the Piña-mezcalita, with Damiana Herb Liqueur, Ilegal Mezcal Joven, Chile Poblano liqueur, fresh roasted pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, lime juice, agave syrup and chamoy in a Tajin-rimmed glass. The cost is $13.
DR Delicacy, 4120 Directors Row Suite A: Cinco de Mayo is going to be an unexpectedly good day for shopping thanks to a special discount from this local gourmet foods purveyor. Visit the store or shop online with code Cinco2022, and take 20% off anything in the Tapas section of the website. Just a few options include jarred white asparagus, sardines in olive oil with piquillo pepper and manzanilla olives stuffed with lemon. Call (713) 303-3503 or visit the website for more information.
Tobiuo Sushi & Bar, 23501 Cinco Ranch Boulevard: Sure, it’s a Japanese restaurant, but guests can still join in the fun with $5 margaritas all day for Cinco de Mayo. There’s a wide selection, too: good ol’ traditional lime, strawberry, mango, watermelon mint, prickly pear and torched paloma.
Maize, 14795 Memorial: Those who want a taste of a Cinco de Mayo, but also want a great, authentic Mexican dinner might consider spending the evening at this relatively new restaurant. Expect craft cocktails, not bargain margs, such as the Cintli, a Sotol-based, margarita-esque concoction that gets vibrant color from purple corn syrup, and the Oaxaca Old Fashioned with tequila, mezcal, agave, and grapefruit bitters. Sip the drinks alongside crowd-pleasing entrées such as Barbacoa de Res, or get adventurous with a variety of “alternate protein” tacos with chapulines (grasshoppers), hormigas (ants), gusanos (agave worms) or escamoles (ant larvae). Well you wanted a memorable Cinco de Mayo, didn’t you?
Treebeards, 9655 Katy Freeway: You might not expect $5 house Margaritas at a restaurant known for comforting Cajun fare, but here we are. There are some fancier cocktails, too, such as the Blackberry Ginger Margarita with Exotico Tequila, ginger syrup, lime, agave and Mathilde Cassis for $12. It’s hard to imagine something better to munch on alongside than the Crab & Shrimp Queso, although really hungry folks might steer towards the Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya.
Brennan’s of Houston, 3300 Smith: Just for Cinco de Mayo, this beloved mainstay is offering two special dishes. One is Creole Crawfish Campechana made with with Creole peppers, avocado, jalapeños and pico de gallo, and served with Cajun corn chips, for $18. The other is Shrimp Remoulade Tostada: Gulf shrimp tossed in remoulade sauce over a bed of romaine on a housemade corn tostada, along with guacamole, goat cheese and Creole mirepoix for $20.
Axelrad, 1517 Alabama: This bar with an expansive outdoor area outfitted with hammocks and picnic tables is celebrating with $6 house Margaritas, both on the rocks and frozen. In addition to the classic with fresh lime juice, there are several other flavors, including strawberry, peach, passionfruit and watermelon, and, intriguingly, the Spicy Pickle, made with house-infused serrano tequila, serrano syrup, local Houston candy maker Gimme Gomas‘ Pickle Chamoy and lime juice in a Tajin-rimmed glass. On Cinco de Mayo, Axelrad is open from 2 p.m. to midnight.
Davis St. at Hermann Park, 5925 Almeda: Executive chef Mark Holley is getting into the Cinco de Mayo spirit with a special three-course theme menu. The cost is $55 per person, and appetizers include the choice of a ceviche trio or heirloom tomato salad with avocado-tequila dressing. Select from entrées such as Chiles Capeados (poblanos stuffed with goat cheese, wilted spinach and walnuts over tomato broth) and Wild Game Enchilada with duck-venison mole, tomatillo salsa, Chihuahua cheese and nopales relish. For dessert, attempt to pick only one of either Mark’s Tres Leches or Bandera Trio Sorbet. View the full menu online. Reservations can be made through the website.
Washington Avenue/Rice Military
Flying Fish, 1815 N. Durham: This seafood restaurant is offering half-price margaritas made with Jose Cuervo tequila all day. Normally, a 10-ounce is $6 and the 18-ounce is $10, so that drops the price to $3 and $5, respectively.
Urban South HTX, 1201 Oliver: If beer is your thing more than margaritas, this brewery located in Sawyer Yards is marking Cinco de Mayo with a party and three new beer releases. Double Spilled: Mexican Candy is a fruited sour with strawberry, watermelon, guava and Tajin, Double Spilled: Mangonada, another fruited sour, is a collaboration with Tijuas Candies and is made with mango, lime, chamoy and Tijua’s mango candies. On the savory side is the Sur Urbano: Michelada, another collaborative beer. This Mexican lager includes Michelada76’s michelada mix. For ballast, Crush City BBQ will be serving up tacos, birria quesadillas and more. Urban South’s collaborative partners Tijuas Candies and Michelada76 will both be popping up along with several art vendors courtesy of HTX Market. The festivities start at 5 p.m., but if you want to really earn those beers and tacos, you might consider joining the regular Get Fit Thursday run club and yoga activities, which start at 6:15 p.m.
Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House, 113 6th Street: With a patio outfitted with lounge chairs facing Galveston Bay, this restaurant is perfectly set up for Cinco de Mayo festivities. The drink specials include El Jimador Tequila margaritas both frozen and on the rocks for $6 and Corona beer for a buck. To eat, check out the selection of seafood tacos featuring wood-grilled shrimp, lobster, tuna, or fried oysters. A DJ will be onsite to keep the party going.
Black Rock Coffee: Start the Cinco de Mayo festivities early. The Portland-based coffee shop chain, with five locations in the Greater Houston area, is offering a medium-sized Mexican Mocha for $3. The deal is good whether it’s hot, iced or blended. Black Rock makes the drink with a premium ground chocolate laced with cinnamon, almond and real vanilla.
El Pollo Loco: If you’re not able to go out, ordering in from this chain specializing in Los Angeles-style Mexican fare comes with a bonus while supplies last: a bottle of Tapatio hot sauce with a special El Pollo Loco/Cinco de Mayo label. Note that this isn’t available in stores; only with delivery orders placed via the app or website. Those visiting one of the restaurant locations can instead get two premium tacos for $5, and those doing neither can still follow the five hours’ worth of prize giveaways from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Central time on Instagram. Finally, El Pollo Loco has a gift card deal from now until end-of-day on May 5: purchase a $50 card and get a $10 one for free.
La Calle Tacos & Tortas: This growing Mexico City-inspired local chain, which just opened its third location at 3321 Ella, has a bevy of different margaritas, perfect for Cinco de Mayo. Made with El Jimador tequila and freshly squeezed juices, the flavors include classic lime, watermelon, pineapple, strawberry, mango and chamoy. The cost is $8.99. There’s a similarly broad selection of micheladas made with La Calle’s special 12-ingredient sauce and five-chili mix, clamato, and cayenne pepper.
Molina’s Cantina: Snack on Tex-Mex staples such as fajitas, chips and queso, campechana and taquitos while sipping on frozen Molina’s Margaritas for $6.50 each. Enjoy live mariachi music at all locations from 6 to 8 p.m. In addition, guests can pick up a complimentary koozie while supplies last.