Cinco de Mayo has become a holiday about celebrating all things Mexican — especially margaritas, tacos and tequila. May 5 is just around the corner, so we rounded up five bars and restaurants to visit this Saturday — they have specials in honor of the holiday or are just top-notch places to taste your way through a menu of Mexican fare and cocktails.
Tortilla Republic, Los Angeles.
This West Hollywood outpost of the popular bar and grill (its first location is in Hawaii) opened in March, and it has already earned a following of devoted tequila drinkers, thanks to its two-page tequila list that includes blancos, reposados, anejos and reservas (which can cost as much as $52 a pour). Tortilla Republic usually only serves dinner, but on May 5 it’s opening at noon, with a DJ and a menu of Mexican bar snacks. Find 32-ounce Coronas on the patio or head to the bar to choose between the nine house margaritas.
Drink this: The jalapeño margarita — made with Cazadores Reposado, fresh jalapeño, agave syrup and lime — will wake up your palate, but the faint of heart can order a soothing margarita with muddled cucumber and housemade lavender syrup.
The Rattlesnake Bar is framed by glowing honey-colored onyx, bringing drama to the sleek margarita lounge within the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Fearing’s just outside downtown Dallas’ Arts District. Celebrity chef Dean Fearing made his mark with modern Southwestern cuisine, and his relaxed bar menu offers buffalo tacos and lobster nachos alongside a tequila-heavy cocktail list. Stop by around 6 p.m., when the hotel’s “guacamologist” (a trademarked term) prepares fresh guacamole and sample-sized margaritas for guests.
Drink this: Go classic with Dean’s signature margarita — the chef’s take on a traditional margarita on the rocks — made with Cabo Wabo Silver tequila, lime juice, Damiana Liqueur and a splash of agave nectar.
This glam Mexican joint in Chicago’s River North neighborhood is kicking things off early (11:30 a.m.) on Cinco de Mayo, with cocktails and a family-style sharing menu. For $40 per person, choose from an array of guacamoles, salsas, tacos, sides and desserts, and enjoy dance and mariachi performances throughout the day. Mercadito spices up Mexican classics with specialties such as toreado guacamole, made with Serrano chiles and tomatillo pico de gallo, or beer-battered mahi mahi tacos served with chipotle aioli. A DJ will hit the floor at 9 p.m.
Drink this: The Ponce Zaragoza was created especially for the holiday, and provides a capsaicin kick with tequila reposado, guajillo chile, orange and grapefruit juices and Grand Marnier. The truly bold can sign a waiver before trying the Vato Loco, a cocktail made with marinated, smoked and fresh chilies and chili-infused tequila.
Viktor & Spoils, New York City.
Tucked away underground on the Lower East Side, this tequila bar and taqueria offers one of the city’s best menus of blanco, reposado and anejo tequilas along with about two dozen mezcals from small, family-operated distilleries in one of Mexico’s few mezcal-producing states. Created by tequila expert Steve Olson, the bar list also includes a full page of cocktails with novel ingredients (think chocolate mole bitters in the La Grita de Dolores). And don’t forget the menu of housemade chorizo tacos, charred corn-on-the-cob with cotija cheese, lobster taquitos and churros.
Drink this: The Smoky Daisy is a golden-hued margarita that’s shaken with Grand Marnier and a quarter-ounce of Del Maguey Vida mezcal and served on the rocks with a wheel of lime.
The DiLido Beach Club, Miami.
An oceanfront lounge in the city’s happening South Beach, The DiLido Beach Club in the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Ritz Carlton, South Beach is a year-round hotspot for al fresco margaritas. Stop by for the restaurant’s Cinco de Mayo soirée from 5 to 11 p.m. for festive specials such as plates of suckling pig, frozen margaritas, chests of Corona and a DJ spinning throughout the evening.
Drink this: The Chili-rita perks up a traditional margarita with Thai chili simple syrup and fresh passion fruit juice. If you prefer sweet to spicy, try the housemade sparkling white sangria, made with prosecco, elderflower liqueur, lychee, orange blossom and pear.
Photos courtesy of Tortilla Republic and The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company LLC.