Party Crasher

The 30 Best Cinco de Mayo Parties in Phoenix in 2018

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo at El Hefe in Tempe last year.
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo at El Hefe in Tempe last year. Benjamin Leatherman
Whatchu know about Cinco de Mayo? Probably not as much as you think, cabrón, given all the misconceptions out there about the holiday.

First, it isn’t Mexico’s Independence Day. It's a celebration of the country’s unlikely defeat of the French back in 1862. As a matter of fact, it’s not even widely celebrated in Mexico. Here in America, however, it's a big deal and used as an excuse to down as much tequila and cerveza as possible.

And you can do just that at any of the numerous Cinco de Mayo events, parties, and fiestas taking place at bars, restaurants, and other venues across the Valley on Saturday, May 5, and throughout this weekend.

Here’s a rundown of all the major Cinco celebrations happening around town. Have fun, wey, and get home safe.

click to enlarge Hanging out at Cobra Arcade Bar during Cinco last year. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Hanging out at Cobra Arcade Bar during Cinco last year.
Benjamin Leatherman
Cobra De Mayo Block Party
Cobra Arcade Bar

This Cinco celebration is guaranteed to be action-packed. Lucha libre matches will take place in a wrestling ring set up out in the parking lot while all sorts of colorfully classic arcade games are being played inside. An outdoor bar will also offer drink specials, food trucks will sell eats, and the DJ trio of Rocka Rocka, ManeOne, and Chris Villa (a.k.a. the Three Amigos) will perform. The party starts at 4 p.m. and there’s no cover.

Cinco de Mayo Pool Parties
BLK Live in Scottsdale

Poolside soirees will happen all weekend long at BLK Live. On Saturday, May 5, local bands Kindread, Highest Conspiracy, The Harvest, and The Black and Tans will perform. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is $8. On Sunday, May 6, local DJs Fact135, Akshen, Javin, and Cwitch will be in the mix during the Seis De Mayo Pool Party. Doors open at noon. Admission is $10. Call 480-494-5069 for more info on both events.

Wasting the Day Away in Lunaville
Valle Luna in Chandler

This affair at Valle Luna in Chandler will feature live music from Iirie on the cantina patio from 2 to 6 p.m., interactive games starting at 3 p.m., DJ Just-In on the decks beginning at 6 p.m., and drink specials all day long. A street taco grill will get going at 3 p.m. and serve carne asada tacos, baskets of chips and salsa with chorizo and cheese, and mini quesadillas with or without carne asada. The regular menu will be available in the restaurant all day and the cantina will serve a lunch menu until 3 p.m., followed by a special appetizer menu until close. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Cinco Night Fever
Sandbar Mexican Grill in Chandler & Phoenix

Both of the Valley’s two Sandbar Mexican Grills will host “Cinco Night Fever” parties offering live music and DJs all day, frozen margaritas, signature cocktails like the Clooney Paloma, and a variety of specials and deals. Food selections will include the ancho chile mahi tacos and other options. The Chandler location will feature performances from The Hourglass Cats, The Black Moods, and DJ Jeff Metcalf while the Sandbar at Desert Ridge will include sets by Sassy and the Sneak Attack, Elvis Before Noon, and DJ Pulse. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. No cover for either party.

Cinco de Mayo
Cien Agaves Tacos & Tequila in Scottsdale

Both locations will host Cinco de Mayo fiestas featuring mariachis from 2 to 5 p.m., happy hour deals like $3 Mexican drafts from 3 to 7 p.m., and Milagro Tequila samplings and specials throughout the day. 11 a.m. to midnight. Call 480-467-4455 to 480-970-9002.

Live the dream and party with A.C. Slater on Cinco de Mayo. - COURTESY OF FLEURCOMGROUP
Live the dream and party with A.C. Slater on Cinco de Mayo.
Courtesy of FleurComGroup
Cinco de Mario
Scottsdale Civic Center Park

Saved by the Bell actor Mario Lopez will host his namesake affair at Scottsdale Civic Center Park, which will include appearances by actor Danny Trejo of Machete fame and comedian Frankie Quinones. There will also be a Saved by the Bell look-alike contest, “cholofit” yoga classes, food trucks and vendors, a craft beer cantina, mercado vendor area, kids’ craft zone, and more. Live entertainment will be provided by The Sugarhill Gang, Mariachi Estrellas Del Pacifico, Flamenco Por La Vida, Mariachi Rodriguez, Ritmo Latino, Mariachi Estrellas del Pacífico, and Mariachi Alma Nacional.

The party goes from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. General admission is $15 online, $20 at the event. VIP tickets are $100 (which feature complimentary food and five drinks, private bathrooms, shaded seating, and other amenities) or $200 for a package that included a meet-and-greet with Lopez.

Cinco de Mayo Party
Aunt Chilada’s

One of the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebrations each year can be found happening at Aunt Chilada’s in north Phoenix. This year is no exception, as they’ll have a massive spread with live music, games, and a variety of food and drink. A cornhole tournament takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. with $600 in gift cards for the winners; roaming tequila girls will offer libations, and wood-fired Mexican pizzas will be served.

Local band The Bayou Bandits will perform from 4 to 8 p.m., followed by The Crown Kings playing until midnight. Proceeds will benefit the McKenna Youth Foundation. 2 p.m. to midnight, $10 (with free admission for ladies until 4 p.m.).

Cinco Parking Lot Party
Valle Lune in Phoenix

A totally bitchin’ parking lot party inspired by the ’80s will take place at the Valle Luna on Bell Road. Classic arcade games will be available for play and drink specials will be offered. Mariachi musicians will perform from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mike Nunziato will provide interactive entertainment and DJ Elite will spin starting at noon, and ’80s tribute band New Wave Order will play from 6 to 10 p.m.

Lunch will be served outside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by an outdoor grill offering tacos al pastor and carne asada, baskets of chips and salsa with chorizo and cheese, and mini quesadillas. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; $5 until 3 p.m., $10 afterwards. Call 602-993-3108.

Cinco de Mayo
Calico Jack’s Cantina in Glendale

Go wild alongside Joey Boy and other personalities from Live 101.5 at Calico Jack’s when their massive Cinco fiesta takes over their corner of Westgate. Rap duo Play-N-Skillz will perform, and DJ EC Rock will drop Top 40, hip-hop, salsa, and Latin tracks. More than $2,500 in cash prizes will be awarded during various competitions and games throughout the day, like the frozen T-shirt, sexy señorita, and jalapeno-eating contests. 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. General admission is $5, VIP packages are $15 to $400.

Desperado Cinco de Mayo
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in Scottsale & Gilbert

Two of the country superstar’s namesake bars will each offer “Desperado” Cinco de Mayo celebrations on May 5. Patrons of the Scottsdale location can enjoy Dos Equis, Tecate, and Don Julio, as well as high-energy country and Southern rock spun by three DJs. Meanwhile, the Whiskey Row in Gilbert will have live bands from 2 to 10 p.m. Doors are at noon. Call 480-945-4200 or 480-476-8595 for cover info.

click to enlarge Cinco is a big thing at El Hefe in Tempe. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Cinco is a big thing at El Hefe in Tempe.
Benjamin Leatherman
Cinco de Mayo Block Party
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row & El Hefe in Tempe

Tempe’s Whiskey Row and El Hefe will team up for this affair encompassing both spots that will feature seven DJs in the mix, plenty of Dos Equis and Hornitos Tequila, and a water pong tournament offering $1,000 in cash and prizes (call 507-320-1602 for more info or to sign up). 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Call 480-794-1477 for cover.

Cinco de Mayo Parties
Dos Gringos in Mesa, Tempe & Chandler

Cinco de Mayo is one of the biggest occasions of the year for this local chain of cantinas. As such, all of the Dos Gringos will host lively affairs with tacos, margaritas, games, prizes, specials, and more.

They’ll also have DJs and other entertainment at each spot, including Black Bottom Lighters, The Wednesday Machine, DJ Johnny Vela, and DJ Diverse at the Dos in Mesa. Meanwhile, the trio of DJ Tranzl8r, DJ C-Los, and DJ Rokkwilder will hold it down at the Chandler location and DJ Eddie Lynn will perform at the Dos in Tempe. 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Call 480-855-3303, 480-633-5525, or 480-753-4577 for cover info.

Cinco de Mayo Bar Crawl
Downtown Scottsdale

If you’d rather not celebrate Cinco alone, you can join the crowd during this holiday bar crawl that will hit up several spots in downtown Scottsdale. Participants will gather at Old Town Gringos before heading for spots like Wasted Grain, Goodwood Tavern, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, and El Hefe. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 online and include a wristband, three one-cent drink vouchers, and more. See for full details.

Cinco de Loco
Loco Patron in Tempe & Scottsdale

Both locations will have drink specials, promos and giveaways, live music, and even a donkey show (no, not that kind). Hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and there’s no cover.

Cinco de Mario After-Party
El Hefe in Scottsdale

If you’re still up for some raging following a day of partying with Mario Lopez, head for El Hefe’s official after-party for the event. The actor will host the event, which will also include DJs, drinks, and maybe some A.C. Slater-style fun. The fiesta gets going at 6 p.m. Call 480-945-6200 for cover.

click to enlarge Spotted at C.A.S.A. Tempe during last year's Cinco festivities. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Spotted at C.A.S.A. Tempe during last year's Cinco festivities.
Benjamin Leatherman
Cinco de Mayo Block Party
C.A.S.A. Tempe

This enormous affair will encompass the outdoor “SunBa” patio and the C.A.S.A. main room and feature DJs, drinks, and more. Try to arrive ASAP, as there won’t be a cover during the earlier hours. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Call 480-557-8226 fore more info.

Cinco de Mayo Celebration
OH Pool at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale

Party by the pool with $8 Don Julio Cocktails while DJ Pulse spins high-energy sounds. Be sure to arrive early as the first 50 people will get free tacos. No joke. 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Call 480-376-2600.

Cinco de Maya
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

Superstar hip-hop artist Tyga will headline the Cinco de Maya party, which will also celebrate the club’s fifth anniversary. Doors are at 10 p.m. Admission is $5. Call 480-625-0528.

Cinco de Modern
Modern Margarita

Get into the spirit of Cinco de Mayo at this North Phoenix spot with food and drink specials, raffle prizes every hour, and more. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Admission is $10. Call 602-795-8111.

Cinco de Mayo Party
Q Lounge

Local DJs will drop hip-hop, Top 40, R&B, and Latin jams on Q-Lounge’s two dance floors at the nightspot’s Cinco de Mayo event. Personalities from Power 98.3/96.1 will host the affair and drink specials will be offered. 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call 602-995-5985.

click to enlarge Ozomatli is scheduled to perform on Sunday, May 6, at the Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival in downtown Phoenix. - COURTESY OF PARADIGM TALENT AGENCY
Ozomatli is scheduled to perform on Sunday, May 6, at the Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival in downtown Phoenix.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival
Downtown Phoenix

The intersection of First Avenue and Washington Street in downtown Phoenix will host this enormous annual block party on Sunday, May 6. As with its previous editions, the festival will feature a variety of entertainment and activities, including carnival-style rides and games, arts and crafts, folklorico dancers, traditional mariachi music, lucha libre wrestling, and food and drink vendors.

The folks from Macayo’s will also create a 125-foot burrito, in case you’re really hungry. The live music lineup will be headlined by such bands as Ozomatli, El Chicano, Tierra, and Latin Breed. Hours are from noon to 10 p.m. General admission is $10 and VIP tickets (which includes closer seating for performances and other perks) are $40 to $60.

Club Red in Mesa

Hesh-heads won’t be left out of the Cinco de Mayo fun as local metal acts Virulent, Betrayal of Allies, Ciphered Existence, Devil Lies Down, and Absolute Threshold are all scheduled to perform at Club Red on May 5. 7 p.m., $10. Call 480-200-7529 for more info.

Campo de Mayo
Camp Social

Stop by this Camp Social and partake in such drink specials as $3 Modelo drafts and Pacifico bottles, $5 house margaritas, $8 Casamigos shots and margaritas, and $20 buckets of Corona or Corona Premier. Chef Esteban Contreras will also be whipping up a variety of tacos featuring such ingredients as chicken, shrimp, and octopus. A DJ will perform starting at 8 p.m. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Call 480-750-0506.

Cinco de Mayo Bash
Old Town Gringos

Cinco de Mayo bash with $5 Pacifico and Modelo Especial drafts, $6 margaritas, giveaways, live music from The Josh Roy Band, and hot spins from DJ Tranzl8r. Themed food specials like the “Mamas and Papas” nachos or fajitas plates made with steak, shrimp, chicken, chorizo, barbacoa, or ground beef will be available. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Call 480-423-3800.

Cinco de Mayo Party
Marc’s Sports Grill & Nightlife in Glendale

Drink specials on Cinco de Mayo include happy hour prices from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., $3.25 domestic drafts from 6 to 9 p.m., and $3.75 well drinks and $4.75 you-call-its from 9 to 11 p.m. Karaoke in the lounge starts at 9 p.m., as does a DJ in the main room. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., $5 cover after 9 p.m. Call 623-842-1053.

click to enlarge Fayuca will celebrate Cinco at Rockbar in Scottsdale. - COURTESY OF FAYUCA
Fayuca will celebrate Cinco at Rockbar in Scottsdale.
Courtesy of Fayuca
Cinco De Mayo with Fayuca & Friends
Rockbar Inc. in Scottsdale

The popular local Latin rock band is planning to spend their Cinco performing with a few of their pals at Rockbar. DJ Michael Hagen will be spinning on the upstairs patio and Fayuca will have plenty of their namesake beer on-hand to purchase. The show starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $10.

Release Pool Party
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale

Panda Funk DJ and producer Deorro will headline the first Release pool party of the season at Talking Stick. Gates open at noon and the party goes until 6 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 480-850-7777.

Spider Web Dance Night

DJ Damon Foster will serve up rock, punk, and ska songs present a special Cinco de Mayo edition of his Spider-Web dance night at Rips. 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., free. Call 602-266-0015.

Cinco de Mayo Weekend
Karamba Nightclub

Karamba will have six straight days of festivities and events inspired by the holiday. Highlights include a pre-Cinco de Mayo show featuring Ruby on Thursday, May 3; a vaquero dance on Friday, May 4; a Cinco de Mayo party on Saturday, May 5; Barbara Seville’s annual Salsa Challenge party on the afternoon of Sunday, May 6; and the karaoke-filled Cinco de Mayo-Thon hosted by Jesus on Monday, May 7. Hours and cover charges vary. See the website for details and more events or call 602-254-0231.

Cinco de Derby party
The Womack

Score such drink specials as $5 Bulleit and $3 Dos Equis at this combination Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby party. Hours are from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call 602-283-5232.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.