Francamente, no one in Austin needs a list to find margaritas on Cinco de Mayo — everyone is mixing up tequila and lime drinks to celebrate. The holiday has spiraled out from its military roots, initially commemorating victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, and more recently representing some United States rendition of Mexican joy.
Texans have a unique privilege as Mexico’s closest U.S. neighbor; an opportunity to interact with actual Mexican and Mexican-American culture on a daily basis, and absolute Mexican camp on May 5.
The following are six Austin spots getting in the Cinco de Mayo spirit with parties and specials that go beyond a margarita happy hour. Whether this year feels like a tamales holiday or a burgers and beer holiday, Austinites have another fun opportunity to learn about and celebrate our Mexican friends and family.
There will be margaritas galore all over Austin on May 5, but Z’Tejas has something else to offer as your coordination wanes: hitting things with a stick. The Southwestern grill will have $5 house margaritas, piñatas filled with prizes, and live music. Whether that celebration calls for a snack (aguachile shrimp ceviche, guacamole) or a full meal (fried tamales, smoked chicken chile relleno), Z’Tejas has got you covered. This event is happening at both the Avery Ranch and Sixth Street locations.
The Lucky Rabbit
This new “live music bar and kitchen” is doing what it does best, slinging drink specials and connecting visitors with local music. This party focuses on $5 margaritas, queso, and nachos, plus a special burger with “Texas crack mayo,” green chili queso, jalapeños pickled in-house, and chipotle sour cream. Blues and dub group Audic Empire is playing a live show, and Tequila Código, a brand championed by George Strait, is sending a team to give free tastings and cardboard cutout photo ops with the country star.
One of Austin’s greatest contributions to over-the-top burgers, Hopdoddy, is bringing back a “fan favorite” Mexican burger for the month of May, starting on Wednesday, May 4. The Bidi Bidi Burger is a cross between a burger and a tostada (layered with entire intact tostadas the size of the burger itself). That’s topped with two cheeses (pepper jack by Tillamook, and cotija), a black bean spread, pico de gallo and shredded lettuce, and seasoned with chipotle aioli, guacamole crema and cilantro.
Blue Owl Brewing
On such a cocktail-centric holiday, la cerveza can feel a little neglected. At Blue Owl Brewing, there’s no way it’s going overlooked. Its sour beers will be featured in classic micheladas, and more unusual frozen palomas and ‘ritas. It’s also running a community game of Lotería that’s free to play, and sends winners home with Blue Owl merch. An ongoing game on Mondays uses stickers from the brewery’s Limetastico six-packs, which can be redeemed at the Cinco de Mayo party for special combo prizes.
The Arboretum X Renaissance Austin Hotel
A collaboration between the Arboretum and Renaissance Austin Hotel is bringing the party to a North Austin lawn for free, with catering by the hotel. They’ve invited some local friends who walk the Latin walk year round: Simar Seafood Cocina, a family-owned coastal Mexican restaurant from down the road, for margaritas, and the Darin Layne Latin Duo for live tunes. There will also be a raffle, swag bags, and other festivities. Tickets are free, but registration is available on Eventbrite.
Fiesta Austin is a local heritage organization that aims to preserve Mexican-American culture, especially through its annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. This year’s festivities at Fiesta Gardens on May 7 include catering by Casa Morenos, music by Mariachi Corazon de Tejas, and a performance by social dancers ¡Viva Tejana! Dance Company. Other partners bring shopping and conversations with community leaders, for a well-rounded festival. Presale tickets ($5) are available at themerchgroup.com.