It may not be a national holiday in Mexico—in fact, it is really only a big deal in the state of Puebla—but north of the wall, Cinco de Mayo or the fifth of May has become a fiesta of Super Bowl and St. Patrick’s Day-like proportions and Long Island is not immune to the fun.
It started in 1862. During the Franco-Mexican War, the French Army was looking to take advantage of a Mexican economic crisis and carve itself a piece of territory in Puebla on its way to taking the capital city. But in a shocking turn of events, a ragtag collection of soldiers and citizens, both indigenous and creole, outnumbered three to one, managed to defeat the better organized and better armed French in the battle for Puebla. The French went on to take Mexico City anyway, but in Puebla, the taste of victory has been celebrated ever since.
We in the north recognize that a good underdog story deserves a celebration. And so, Cinco de Mayo gives us a chance to get our Mexican on—history and current politics be damned. And authenticity be damned too. In this Cinco x Cinco (5 for 5) round up, we are not focusing so much on whether your nixtamalized corn tortilla was freshly made by real Mexican ladies this morning. This one is all about the party. Especially because—Holy guacamole, Murciélago Man—this year Cinco de Mayo falls on a Friday.
Here are 5 places to celebrate.
3A North Park Avenue in Rockville Centre
Already clubby, Cabo “A Taste of Mexico” is expected to go supersonic for Cinco.
“Needless to say Cinco de Mayo is one of the busiest days here at Cabo. Because the 5th falls on a Friday it should have an even crazier vibe,” says owner Angelo Ramunni.
To that end, there will be strolling mariachis and the DJ will start at 8 p.m. instead of 10.
With 35 over-the-top frozen margaritas to choose from, you might have a rough time deciding, but we say go with the cocktail of the day: La Revolución with jalapeño-infused tequila, agave nectar and, in a nod to the French, chartreuse, a liqueur made by French monks since the 1700s.
Start early, if you can. “Normally the crowd starts around 4 p.m., but this year we expect to start as early as 12 or 1 p.m.,” says Ramunni. Our advice? Line your belly with their special Cinco moles, inspired by the classic Puebla sauce of cocoa, roasted nuts, chiles and spices. And do like the millennials do and take the train to and from RVC. Tequila and driving don’t mix.
402 New York Avenue in Huntington
1516 Old Northern Boulevard in Roslyn
Besito Mexican’s two locations in Roslyn and Huntington are well-known for beautiful food and festive atmosphere. They up their game for Cinco, with some special dishes, special cocktails and a 05•05= $500* Cinco de Mayo Sweepstakes on their website for a chance to win one of 3 big gift cards plus swag (no purchase necessary, but you have to sign up for email alerts).
In addition to a free Roca Patrón tequila tasting from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. for guests over 21, Besito is recommending their spring margarita La Sandía (organic Casa Noble Blanco tequila, Cointreau, fresh watermelon, agave nectar and fresh squeezed lime) for a tipple and offering two Cinco weekend-only dishes: enchilada de mariscos (jam-packed with seafood) and bistéc con chicharrón (pan-roasted New York strip).
3. Del Fuego
430 N Country Road in St. James
117 Deer Park Avenue in Babylon
25 W. Main St. in Patchogue
Tex-Mex rules at Del Fuego’s three exuberant locations in St. James, Babylon and Patchogue. Expect extra sizzle on Cinco de Mayo with Flight Fridays—a $20 tequila flight menu. There will be a DJ at the Patchogue location and happy hour specials at all 3 locations including half priced house margaritas, half priced select beers, wine and $2-off the Most Wanted cocktails.
4. Pico Tequila Grill
19 West Main Street in Bay Shore
Pico Tequila Grill in ever-more-fun Bay Shore is a new favorite for my friends and family because it is funky in a brick wall and street art sort of way, offers great tacos, burritos and more in well-balanced, crunchy, well-seasoned varieties (I say rock shrimp, and my kid says the Philly and street tacos), and is reasonably priced.
We are not alone in our new passion for Pico. The joint can literally go from zero to 60 in a heartbeat; with only 60 seats, Pico can fill up quickly and suddenly. Expect big crowds for Cinco for $2 select tacos, $1-off on all draft beer and $5 well drinks. Must tries? Cocktails and shots made with their in-house infused tequila like the black-berry and cantaloupe infused Pico margarita (expect new flavors especially for the big weekend). And try to score their new T-shirts.
5. Salsa Salsa Smithtown
320 Maple Avenue in Smithtown
Salsa Salsa has locations in Port Jefferson and Bayport, but here’s what’s on at the Smithtown restaurant, not just on Friday, but all weekend. In addition to their innovative burritos and other Mexican-inspired dishes (think grilled, stuffed avocadoes, grilled Brussels sprouts tacos with bacon or Oreo empanadas, for example) they’ll have Cinco giveaways while they last, plus $3 Mexican beers, $10 Corona-Rita’s and $5 margaritas and sangría. No reservations, so get there early! Or get things started with your colleagues while still at work; they have lunchtime delivery.