The victory of the Battle of Puebla, better known as Cinco de Mayo, is a holiday that's mildly celebrated in parts of Mexico but brings out massive crowds of partygoers in the United States. Just like St. Patrick's Day is more of a celebration for Irish-Americans than it is in Ireland, Cinco de Mayo—which is not Mexican Independence Day—has become a day for Mexican-Americans to commemorate their roots. So in a city as big as New York with a huge Mexican-American population, you can be sure there are plenty of events and parties to recognize the day, many of them featuring platters of tacos and pitchers of margaritas.
12 Days of Cinco
Cinco de Mayo is stretched out to a nearly two-week celebration at Mad Dog and Beans Mexican Cantina during their annual 12 Days of Cinco event. The restaurant is famous for its flavored margaritas which you can order by the glass, by the pitcher, or inside a giant 100-ounce tower for the table. Beginning 12 days before May 5, the restaurant highlights a different beer and a different tequila each day and offers free tastings of each, plus games, contests, giveaways, and other activities.
There are two Mad Dog Cantinas in Manhattan, one in Midtown and another in the Financial District, and you can join the 12 Days of Cinco festivities at either location.
Rosa Mexicano has been an upscale Mexican restaurant in New York City since 1984, founded by the Cuban chef Josefina Howard who fell in love with Mexico's culture and cuisine. Her signature drink is the pomegranate margarita, which is especially free-flowing during the Cinco de Mayo fiesta. While it's definitely a party, the holiday at Rosa Mexicano is more about good food than tequila shots, featuring a special holiday three-course meal and premium cocktails to enjoy with it.
The original Rosa Mexicano is in Lincoln Center, but you can also find this scrumptious deal at its other NYC locations in Union Square and Midtown East.
"Taco 'bout a party," is how Dos Caminos advertises its Cinco de Mayo fiesta. The restaurant wants you to celebrate by sampling every bit of Mexican culture, so it's fitting that the holiday deal is made up of pairing a taco flight with a margarita flight—including the signature Tropical Storm margarita which has been voted one of the best in NYC. Apart from the savory tacos and icy cocktails, expect live music and deals on buckets of beer on May 5.
Get a taste of their specialties at any one of their four Manhattan locations: Midtown, Flatiron District, Meatpacking District, and SoHo.
Cinco de Mayo Cruise
Take to the water on May 5 with the Cinco de Mayo Cruise along the Hudson River. Revelers can enjoy fresh-cooked Mexican cuisine along with a cash bar serving up all kinds of beers, wines, and cocktails—with tequila being the star ingredient, as you would expect. This three-hour evening starts on the East River and passes under the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge before heading toward the Hudson River, also getting a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty. It departs from the Skyport Marina on the east side of 23rd Street.
Agave Restaurant and Tequila Bar
Margaritas are delicious, but good tequila is meant to be drunk like a fine whiskey, in a glass by itself to truly appreciate the full flavor profile. If that sounds more your style than pitchers of lime slushie cocktails, then Agave is your spot. Even if you do prefer a margarita, the excellent ones blended at agave focus on premium tequilas and ingredients, meaning even better taste and less of a hangover.
During the Cinco de Mayo party, head to either the Kips Bay or Greenwich Village location to explore new tequilas while chowing down on some delicious bites. You can start the holiday early with a Mexican-inspired brunch or make your way in the evening for the Southwest-fusion dinner menu.