Cinco de Mayo is so much more than the old “one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor” adage: It’s a holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s win at the Battle of Puebla, against the French in 1862 (but hey, celebrate it with tequila). In honor of the victory, Mexican restaurants and mezcal bars throw open their doors, usually with food and drink specials throughout the day and, if you’re lucky, live music and full-on parties. Translation? Tacos, margaritas and mariachi bands are about to dominate your weekend. Whether you’re settling in for an afternoon of eating or a morning of on-theme doughnuts from one of the world's premier Latino movie stars, here’s how to tap into your Mexican pride—or, you know, just your love of tequila.
RECOMMENDED: Our guide to Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles
Best Cinco de Mayo specials
The gleaming food hall at LAFC's Banc of California Stadium already sports some of the city's best Mexican food (Burritos La Palma and Coni' Seafood, anyone?) but on Cinco de Mayo, you can catch an entire party for the holiday: From 11am to 8pm, stop by the beer garden on the patio for $2 chicken, al pastor, and beef tacos; sides like nachos and beans; $12 pitchers of Mexican lager; and $5 frozen margaritas.
This is, undeniably, the most baller of Cinco specials: Find a $100 margarita—yep, $100 for a solitary margarita—at all locations. The Fleming's Prime Margarita is making a comeback, but this year, it's available the entire month of May. It comes served in a special Baccarat "Diamant" tumbler, which you get to keep. The margarita itself is a blend of Tequila Ocho Extra Anejo La Latilla (which retails for around $200 per bottle) and Grand Marnier Cuvee du Centenaire (at around $150 per bottle). This is one to savor.
Nothing screams “spring” like a garden party, and Gracias Madre’s got one comin’ right up for Cinco de Mayo. From 11am to 10pm, there'll be a pop-up margarita garden next to the restaurant, plus a tarot reader, a mariachi band, food specials, vegan ice cream from neighboring spot Craig's, and tequila galore. The best part? No reservations necessary, and the event's free. Just roll through. Get thee to WeHo.
This weekend, in a galaxy not at all far away, Arts District bar Here and Now is combining two holidays for one insane mashup: Star Wars Day—"May the Fourth be with you," etc.—is getting a very welcome Latin infusion thanks to some Cinco de Mayo flair. Stop by on Saturday and Sunday for the bar's Estar Guars party, complete with specials like the Jar Jar Links Mexican street dog or the SÍ-3P0 Golden Michelada. There'll even be a pet costume contest, Star Wars lotería and trivia, vendors, and vintage Latin vinyl DJ sets. We've got more info right over here.
If you're in El Segundo or Playa Vista, make your way over to Hopdoddy Burger bar where you can not only catch kobe-beef burgers topped with seared poblano peppers—you can also sip half-off margaritas all weekend long. From Friday, May 3, until the end of Cinco de Mayo, find discounted cocktails in options such as classic margs on the rocks, frozen varieties, and even one called the Skinny Dip, which includes a little seven-ounce Coronita bottle and a black lava-salt rim. Can't decide? Order one of each.
How do $5 margaritas sound? We thought so. SaMo's Independence bar is offering some of the least expensive margs in L.A. all weekend long, and once you've had too many, might we also recommend the new Pediaflyte? It's the bar's new flight of four Pedialyte mocktails (pictured), which also include fruit juice and soda water—you know, to help with that hangover.
True to its name, NIXO Patio Lounge is have a patio party on Sunday—plus specials all day. This DTLA spot will feature DJ sets; mahi mahi aguachile; carnitas tacos with salsa negra and crispy pig ear; queso fundido with chorizo; and a buy-two-get-one-free margarita deal.
Petty Cash is going all out, not only throwing a Cinco de Mayo party in its own taqueria, but taking over Grand Central Market's Sari Sari Store as well. Stop by the taco shop on Sunday for a very special brunch party (9am to 3pm), and if you're Downtown, hop over to its sibling restaurant, Sari Sari, which for one day flips from Filipino rice-bowl stall to a fast-casual Mexican restaurant serving tacos, chips, house-made salsa, guacamole, flan and more from 10am to 8pm.
Get beachy at the Rustic Canyon Family's prized Tallula's, which just so happens to be throwing a party in honor of Cinco de Mayo just down the block from the water. Opening a full four hours early on Sunday, Tallula's is starting the party at noon with special taco platters (featuring mushroom, rock cod, chicken and beef varieties), plus a mariachi band and the restaurant's new photo booth—which you'll look great in, pre- or post-beach.
First came Danny Trejo's successful career in action films, then came.... a taco shop? Then doughnuts?? And while watching something like Machete is in itself a celebration of Mexican greatness, we recommend a stop at Trejo's Coffee & Donuts, where you can find daily-rotating classics and Latin-inspired flavors (see: a horchata and Abuelita varieties). For Cinco, catch special cacti-shaped options, not to mention a margarita doughnut, a piñata-inspired sweet and a chili-and-mango take.