For history buffs, Cinco de Mayo means commemorating Mexico’s unlikely victory over France on the 5th of May in 1862. But for the rest of us, it’s a day to celebrate all things south of the border—the heritage that brought us tequila cocktails, mariachi music, and everyone’s favorite spicy snacks. Cinco de Mayo falls on a Thursday this year, so spice up the tail-end of your workweek by partaking in any one of these five flavorful fiestas.
Cinco de Market: Large-scale holiday parties have become somewhat of a specialty at Mount Vernon Marketplace, the trendy communal food hall that boasts everything from dumplings and draft beer to cupcakes and charcuterie. Since opening its doors last October, the vendors at the market have come together to host massive New Year’s and Mardi Gras parties, and now they’re gearing up for Cinco de Mayo with an event featuring piñata-bashing, serenading mariachi bands, and tons of authentic eats. Don a sombrero and stroll around the space to find black bean burritos with pepper cheese and falafel tacos with spicy corn salsa from Big Bean Theory; crispy churros from Edible Favors; ceviche and micheladas (spicy Mexican cerveza made with beer and lime juice) from The Local Oyster; and tequila and beer pairings from Taps Fill Station. 520 Park Ave., 888-897-8859
Clavel: Not only is Cinco de Mayo going to be a special celebration of this Remington hotspot’s roots in Oaxaca, but the holiday also marks the mezcaleria’s (almost) one year anniversary. Owner Lane Harlan—who also owns speakeasy-style spot W.C. Harlan up the street—had originally aimed to open by Cinco de Mayo last year, but ended up debuting Clavel one month later than expected. To celebrate a successful first year full of smoky cocktails, handmade corn tortillas, and sizzling queso fundido, Harlan is hosting a full-blown fiesta complete with smashed piñatas and a slew of discounted eats and drinks. The all-night bash will feature carnitas, esquites (Mexican street corn salad), chicarones (Mexican pork rinds), and, of course, plenty of mezcal to go around. 225 W. 23rd St., 443-900-8983
Barcocina: For some waterfront fun, head to this dockside destination in Fells Point, known for its lively patio and wide array of Mexican-inspired dips, tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. At Barcocina’s special party on May 5, indulge in drink specials like $4 Coronas and $7 house margaritas while singing along to live covers by New Jersey-based rockers Stellar Mojo. 1629 Thames St., 410-563-8800
Papi’s: Cinco de Mayo is an annual event at this Fells Point taco joint from local restaurateur Charlie Gjerde, whose menu is inspired by authentic antojitos (small bites) from Mexican street fairs. Line your stomach with eats such as yucca fries, fried plantains, braised corn on the cob, and customizable street tacos, before downing $12 pitchers of Dos Equis and $3 Patron, $4 Camarena Blanco, $5 Corazon Blanco, and $6 Camerana Reposado shots. Papi’s is also teaming up with Flying Dog Brewery to throw a fun raffle into the mix at this year’s fete. Every guest who buys a Flying Dog Numero Uno Agave Cerveza will be entered into a raffle to win two tickets to see Violent Femmes or Galactic during the brewery’s summer concert series, which kicks off in June. The more cervezas you buy—the more chances you get. The winner will be picked at random at 9 p.m. 1703 Aliceanna St., 410-299-8480
Mt. Washington Tavern: From sporting events to Preakness pregames, this neighborhood haunt is always down to throw a party, and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. The tavern’s third-floor Skybar—equipped with multiple flat screens and plenty of high-top seating—is making its return for the season just in time for the event, which will highlight a DIY margarita bar and a special street taco menu. Starting at 4 p.m., soak up some sunshine while digging in to $4 tacos and sipping $8 margaritas. 5700 Newbury St., 410-367-6903