Many think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day but that's not the case. It actually commemorates the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Although the holiday is celebrated more widely in the United States than in Mexico, it's a great excuse to celebrate Mexican culture.
Cinco De Mayo Boston Style
In Boston, here are the bars and restaurants slinging the best margaritas and Mexican fare around.
Cantina La Mexicana
In Somerville, the authentic Mexican cuisine, fresh ingredients, and friendly service make Cantina La Mexicana a neighborhood favorite. The dining room and patio are both open for guests to enjoy everything the menu has to offer. Start the celebration off right with the refreshing shrimp ceviche. Next, choose between eight different kinds of tacos or opt for the taco plate and choose any two with a side of beans, rice, avocado, and mixed greens. There are also a dizzying array of burritos (called burros here), burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, and chiles rellenos. The drinks are just as colorful as the food. Try the pink dragonfruit margarita or the purple-hued beet and cherry margarita.
Follow your nose to the wood-fired goodness that is La Brasa. Chef/Owner Daniel Bojorquez uses the idea of family surrounding a campfire to inspire his menus and nurture a casual atmosphere of togetherness. The menu rotates seasonally and uses local, New England purveyors for produce, meats, and dairy. The mussels tostada with chintestle (smoked chili paste) potato salad should be on your must-order list as should the grilled bavette steak with mole, roasted wild mushrooms, and charred onions. Save room for the vanilla rice pudding with amaro macerated currants, cara cara oranges, and peanut brittle. The spring margarita adds tamarind to the classic recipe for a little extra depth.
The Painted Burro
After a brief hiatus, The Painted Burro is back and ready to serve hungry Cinco de Mayo revelers. With over 100 craft tequilas on the back bar, it's the perfect place to celebrate with a drink. There are seven different margaritas on the cocktail menu including cucumber, hibiscus, mango, and a spicy variation. Pair any of those margs with a short rib torta (Mexican sandwich) with Oaxaca cheese, chimichurri, avocado, crispy potato, and chipotle aioli. The taco options are classic recipes with a few creative twists mixed in. The BLT taco uses crispy pork belly instead of bacon and the al pastor taco swaps out pork for meaty swordfish. Be sure to add a side of kale and plantains.
Casa Romero has been around since 1972 making it one of the oldest Mexican dining establishments in Boston. The Gloucester Street eatery has a long menu of customizable Mexican favorites including tacos and enchiladas. The house specialties including the cochinita pibil (pulled pork marinated in rich, Anchiote and orange) and spicy shrimp (a bestseller) should absolutely be sampled. There are six regular margaritas on the menu and three frozen varieties. The house margarita features Casamigos tequila, made famous by George Clooney. Those that enjoy a smokier flavor in their cocktails should try one of the two mezcal cocktails (tequila's smoky cousin). The "Smokey Flower" features mezcal, ancho chili liqueur, hibiscus, and lime.
Yellow Door Taqueria
There are two locations to enjoy Yellow Door Taqueria, one in Lower Mills and another in the South End. The Cali-Mex fare is available seven days a week and each corn tortilla is made in-house daily. Both menus have the famous birria tacos which include shredded beef, two kinds of cheese, onion, and cilantro before being dunked in a rich tomato broth. The poblano tamales are a great vegan option and the elote (Mexican street corn) is a sweet/smoky/spicy must-order item for the table. The house margaritas are $12 and come in seven different flavors. Keep it classic or get adventurous with blueberry cinnamon, spiced pineapple, or lime leaf-ginger.
Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar
At Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar a little crazy is a good thing. The funky, South Boston joint specializes in three things: tacos, oysters, and tequila. The baked oysters are the place to start with sauteed spinach, bacon, chile de arbol sauce, and Oaxaca cheese. The birria tacos (three per order) showcase Jalisco-style braised short rib, onion, cheese, and is served with a hearty dipping broth. The New England seafood roots shine in the haddock taco (grilled or fried) with romesco, red cabbage and arbol tomatilla sauce. There are nine different margs on the cocktail menu including one frozen option. Order the "Season Six" margarita and $1 will be donated to the South Boston Boys and Girls Club.