Okay, so maybe you don't know exactly why it's a tradition to eat, drink, and party on Cinco de Mayo (FYI, it's to commemorate the 150-year-old Battle of Puebla, a victory of the Mexican militia over the French army). But those pesky details shouldn't stop you from having a truly awesome modern American-style night out on the town. If margaritas and Mexican food are your favorite way to let loose, don't miss the celebration at these nine Valley restaurants on Sunday, May 5.
TQLA A one-of-a-kind tequila drinking experience can be had at TQLA, where four tequilas are available on tap, chilled to an optimal temperature of 5 degrees. The restaurant, which serves a blend of Southwestern, Mexican, and Southern cuisine, also has more than 80 varieties of tequila at the bar and two dozen margarita and tequila-laced cocktails to choose from. The Cinco de Mayo party on the patio starts at 10 a.m. and includes a raffle and special tequila tastings. Drink specials include $4.50 house margaritas, $8 Don Julio margaritas, $2 off tap tequila shots, $10 blanco tequila flights, and $12 reposado tequila flights.
Arrowhead Grill Like to be fancy with your tequila? The West Valley's finest restaurant will be serving a 5-couse tequila dinner for Cinco de Mayo -- and one of the specialty cocktails will include Gran Patron Burdeos, which costs $500 a bottle. The second course will be a trio of enchiladas (duck, lobster, chicken) paired with a fruity Jalisco Smash (Patron Reposado, strawberries, basil, lime juice, Patron Citronge, strawberry garnish). Other dishes include Veracruz red snapper and savory achiote tequila-lime lamb chops. This dinner is $65.99 per person and is limited to 45 guests. For reservations, book online or call 623-566-2224.
Sprinkles + Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill An unlikely (but delicious) duo, Sprinkles and Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill are teaming up for a Cinco de Mayo bash. The cupcakery is launching a new flavor, Margarita. The key lime tequila cake topped with key lime frosting and dusted with fleur de sel will only be available May 3 to 23. Head to Z'Tejas at Scottsdale Fashion Square for the Leo Street taco special and receive a buy-one-get-one voucher for Sprinkles. The special includes two street tacos and a Little Larry Margarita for $9.95 and will be available all day Sunday. Can't wait for the cupcake? Stop by Sprinkles on Cinco de Mayo for a free appetizer at any of Z'Tejas' five Valley locations.
Milagro Grill There will be more than 40 food and drink specials available from Friday through Sunday, so there's something for everyone to celebrate at Milagro Grill, grand champions of the Third Annual Arizona Taco Festival. Friday's offers include a $6 habanero raspberry margarita and $8 PB&J puerco. Weekend deals include $2 chicken or Costilla (short rib) tacos; $3 Mexican draft beers, margaritas, and mimosas; and 20% off all bottles of wine.
Salsa Festival at el Pedregal Nothing says party like a free festival full of food. On Cinco de Mayo, el Pedregal at The Boulders Resort will be hosting its 6th Annual Salsa Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheatre. There will be plenty of salsa samples to go around from restaurants including Spotted Donkey Cantina, Brugos Pizza Company, and more, and the outdoor grill will be fired up to make more substantial fare like tacos al carbon and tostadas de carnitas. Tequila tastings will provided by Herradura Tequila, and wine tastings will be offered by AZ Wines. There will also be Mexican desserts and margaritas.
Sandbar Mexican Grill The party will last all weekend at Sandbar Mexican Grill's three locations, featuring live entertainment by DJs and local bands, the Mayweather-Guerrero boxing match playing in HDTV, and drink specials. The restaurant will also be rolling out its street taco carts, so you don't have to go far from the sand-lined indoor-outdoor patios to get a bite to eat. And at the Chandler location, the celebration will be extra-special thanks to Chandler's Third Annual Street Festival.
Bungalow Bar & Grill All this week through Sunday, May 5, Bungalow Bar & Grill in Scottsdale is offering specials on its new menu items. Three street tacos -- choice of chicken, steak, or pork -- are $2.50 to $3 each. Nachos layered with pork, cheese, tomatoes, salsa, and jalapenos are $6, great to pair with a Dirty Tequila, cold cerveza, margarita, or fresh made sangria, all available for $5. Perhaps the best party snack of all are taquitos, served with zesty salsa for $5.
Bar Louie Margarita mavens can score a great deal on four flavors at Bar Louie in Tempe Marketplace. On Saturday and Sunday, the price of the Dos Sauza, La Fresca, pomegranate, and strawberry margaritas drops from $10 to $5 each. Plus, diners who order a margarita or 14 oz. draft of XX Dos Equis ($3) will get a free basket of chips with salsa. For those in need of something more substantial to fill their Mexico-sized craving, there's the verde chicken flatbread, Southwest burger topped with guacamole, or steak-stuffed El Burrito Loco.
The Herb Box With Cinco de Mayo falling on a Sunday this year, no one will judge if you start drinking early at an afternoon brunch. Both the Phoenix and Scottsdale locations of The Herb Box will be serving brunch from the morning through the late afternoon (hours vary), accompanied by live music. Lighter options include the butternut squash and corn enchiladas with tomatillo verde, Sonoma jack cheese, and fiesta salad ($14). Or grab a one-time-only taste of the holiday specials, a shrimp gazpacho martini appetizer with pineapple mango salsa ($8) and blackened fish tacos with red cabbage-cilantro slaw, avocado-roasted corn salsa, and smoked jalapeno vinaigrette ($13). Mango margaritas will be $5 all day, or pick any brunch entrée with a mango mimosa or Bloody Mary for $24.
Le Chalet This restaurant specializes in French Swiss fare like crepes and fondue, but the menu is going Mexican on May 5. There will be two holiday specials on offer: queso fundido with chorizo (Monterey jack cheese, green chiles, onions, and tequila served with sliced sausage and tortilla chips) and, for dessert, homemade Corona sorbet garnished with lime. To further get diners in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, two cocktails -- Micheladas and The Bull (tequila, beer, pink lemonade) -- will be available. For reservations, call 602-337-8760.
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Abuelo's The celebration at Abuelo's lasts for three days this year and includes live music, prizes, and giveaways. Beginning on Friday, May 3, there will be all-day drink specials like draft domestic beers for $1.99, Mexican Flag Margaritas for $5.95, and a free shot of tequila in a take-home glass for every order of the signature La Grandeza Margarita. There are two locations in the Valley: Peoria and Chandler.
Carefree Station Carefree Station will have brunch and dinner specials for Cinco de Mayo. The regular menu version of huevos rancheros -- three eggs on top of housemade masa cake, covered with alubia frijoles, pork chile verde sauce, and melted cheese -- gets amped up for the holiday with Niman Ranch pork tenderloin ($20). Eggs Benedict receives a similar treatment, topped with green chile hollandaise sauce and mole beef tenderloin ($26). For dinner, tender lamb hip will be chargrilled with a nine-spice mole rub and stacked with housemade masa tortillas, jalapeno cream, and pico de gallo ($13). And don't forget to order one of Carefree Station's signature margaritas, like the locally flavored prickly pear, or the Smok'n Guns featuring blanco tequila, red pepper, cilantro, and habanero.
SOL Cocina The party will be hopping all day outside at SOL Cocina with live music, an expanded patio, and an additional bar. And you'll definitely be glad for the extra Back Door Bar with these drink specials on the menu: a grande Cadillac Margarita made with blanco tequila, orange juice, Grand Marnier, and housemade sour mix is $10; Victoria draft beers are $6; and a shot of reposado Karma tequila will be served in an ice-cold luge for $6. The restaurant will be serving food until 10 p.m. on Sunday, and the bars will remain open until midnight.