Cinco de Mayo isn't actually about drinking margaritas and wearing sombreros. In fact, the Mexican holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla when the Mexican army defeated the French occupying forces and drove them out of the country.
Here in Austin, a Tex-Mex restaurant is often the natural place to celebrate. But this year, consider giving the queso and combination plates a rest and trying something more authentically Mexican. Whether you're looking for a raucous block party or a quiet fine dining experience, you still have time to make plans at one of these Interior Mexican food favorites. (Note: Selected restaurants are open on Monday, May 5 for the holiday.)
On Sunday, the downtown destination will host its sixth annual block party. West Second Street between Guadalupe and San Antonio will be closed to traffic for live music performances by bands like Vitera, Mariachi Relámpago, Este Vato and others. The restaurant will also serve Mexican street food like its famous grilled corn, a variety of tacos, margaritas and aguas frescas.
El Chile Cafe y Cantina
With a mix of both Interior Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, El Chile is a great place to sit on the patio and sip $5 margaritas or micheladas. Start your meal with Tex-Mex favorites like nachos, and then finish it with cochinita pibil from Yucatan. On Cinco de Mayo, the restaurant will serve its regular menu as well as two different dishes featuring mole poblano, the signature mole of Puebla.
This South Austin favorite will have live music, happy hour specials all day, and a special chile relleno en nogada. This dish, traditionally served on the holiday, was invented in Puebla and features all the colors of the Mexican flag: a green chile stuffed with dried fruits and nuts, smothered in a white walnut sauce and garnished with red pomegranate seeds. It will pair well with one of the restaurant's famous avocado margaritas.
Celebrate a low-key Cinco de Mayo at this excellent taco joint on South Lamar. There will be specials on Pacifico beer and pastor plates (grilled pork rubbed with spices and pineapple). You could never go wrong, though, with one of the tacos. Papalote's vegetarian tacos are particularly remarkable, especially the "hongos y epazote"featuring mushrooms with hominy, serrano peppers, onions, queso fresco, avocado and epazote (a flavorful Mexican herb).
The East Seventh Street spot is sure to be busy with Cinco de Mayo revelers enjoying the weather on the patio. The restaurant will have happy hour specials along with Mezcal Monday, which includes half off select mezcal cocktails. It sounds like the perfect complement to one of the restaurant's tortas served on a fluffy roll from Panaderia Chuy.
Fonda San Miguel
You'll feel like you're actually in 19th century Mexico after stepping into this classic restaurant's opulent interior. For Cinco de Mayo, the restaurant will offer a popular happy hour, which includes half off select appetizers and $1.00 off signature margaritas. The Silvercoin Margarita, made with watermelon infused Patron Silver, is particularly noteworthy. Guests can enjoy the holiday on the expansive patio or at the festive bar. Per usual, Fonda's regional Mexican cuisine will be served in the dining room.