Cinco de Mayo is a little like St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday celebrated more feverishly in the USA than it is in its home country. May 5 is the day that turns us Mexican, just as March 17 turns us Irish.
While in Mexico the commemoration of the Mexican militia’s victory over France at the 1862 Battle of Puebla is a rather small holiday, in American bars and cantinas it is the year’s best reason to break out the tequila, lime and salt, and dig into something charred, spicy and wrapped in a tortilla.
And who are we to stand in the way of this American tradition, especially when it involves melted cheeses, guac and crispy tortilla chips? We are but messengers of your fiesta options for this weekend.
Here are six for the Cinco:
Cha Chas, Palm Beach
Perched on the second floor of a Worth Avenue shopping complex, Cha Chas has added a shot of lively fun to an otherwise sedate area.
Here, the Cinco de Mayo celebration starts a day early, on Saturday, with bottomless servings of sangria, $10 keg cups and 2-buck tacos.
Have a delicious black bean empanada between Espolón Tequila shots – those shots will be flowing, as will the live music late into the night. Pace yourself – the party goes on all day.
Cha Cha’s Latin Fresh Kitchen and Tequila Bar: 150 Worth Ave., No. 234, Palm Beach; 561-833-8800; ChaChasPalmBeach.com
Max’s Grille, Boca Raton
The Cinco de Mayo menu at Max’s is hard to beat. Not only will the Boca favorite put up an outdoor taco shack Sunday afternoon, it also will serve a full, eclectic Mexican menu.
The taco shack opens at 3 p.m., serving a range of $4 street food items like corn with cream, lime, chile and queso, guacamole and chips, and tacos stuffed with roasted brisket, marinated grilled chicken or slow-roasted pork shoulder. For $3 extra, you can pair those with a blood orange margarita, a Corona or sangria.
The restaurant’s larger special menu will be served from 4 to 10 p.m., offering dishes like chipotle shrimp and corn soup ($6.50), snapper ceviche ($13), chipotle lobster guacamole ($8) and Carnitas Haciendas, a combo of slow-roasted Berkshire pork shoulder, Mexican rice and refried beans ($21).
Max’s Grille: 404 Plaza Real in Mizner Park, Boca Raton; MaxsGrille.com; 561-368-0080.
Uncle Julio’s, Boca Raton
Speaking of Mizner Park, the place will break into a street party Sunday, complete with live mariachi music, outdoor bars, a taco stand, a light show and a photo booth, thanks to Uncle Julio’s Cinco de Mayo plans.
The eatery’s party will take over the patio as well as Mizner’s North Plaza Real. It’s a big deal, one that starts with brunch and kids’ activities at 10 a.m.
What’s there to eat? Everything from mesquite-grilled fajitas to a variety of guacamoles (including spicy three-pepper, pineapple-bacon and roasted corn and crab), chile con queso, and a full range of Tex-Mex classics.
Uncle Julio’s Fine Mexican Food: 449 Plaza Real in Mizner Park; 561-300-3530; UncleJulios.com
Rocco’s Tacos, West Palm, Palm Beach Gardens and Boca Raton
Rocco Mangel is the mack daddy of Cinco de Mayo, the restaurateur intent each year on throwing the biggest party. Parties, we should say, as there are now five Rocco’s Tacos locations in Florida (three of them in Palm Beach County).
“Cinco de Drinko” is what Rocco’s calls its fiestas. And we appreciate the candor.
So, yes, there will be free tequila shots, as well as the full Rocco’s menu, which includes the chain’s popular tableside guacamole.
The parties start at noon Sunday and go on till who-knows-when.
Rocco’s Tacos: in West Palm Beach at 224 Clematis St. (561-650-1001); in Palm Beach Gardens at 5090 PGA Blvd. (561-429-4758); in Boca Raton at 5250 Town Center Circle (561-416-2131); RoccosTacos.com
The Mexican, Boca Raton
This new-ish restaurant recently went through a change in ownership, but it’s sticking to its Cali-Mex inspirations.
On Sunday, The Mexican will throw a Cinco de Mayo bash that runs from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., with live music and a deejay spinning Latin and Top 40.
Party offerings include 3-buck tacos, beers and sangria, $5 cocktails all day, $6 nachos and free tortilla chips and shot samples.
The Mexican: 133 SE Mizner Blvd. in Royal Palm Plaza, Boca Raton; 561-300-5280; TheMexicanBocaRaton.com
SunFest, West Palm Beach
When Cinco de Mayo coincides with SunFest’s closing day, you’ve got double the reason to celebrate.
Mexican-inspired eats at the festival include giant build-your-own burritos ($10), chicken or roasted pork quesadillas ($7) and steak quesadillas ($9).
What about the música? Well, it seems like SunFest left out Latino acts from this year’s lineup. But on Sunday, you can enjoy the sounds of Jimmy Cliff (Tire Kingdom Stage, 3 to 4:30 p.m.) as you nosh on that mega-burrito. And that’s better than hot sauce.
SunFest: The five-day music festival along the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront runs through 9 p.m. Sunday; more info at Sunfest.com