From Matty Rhoades and Luis Gomez.
Yes, friends, Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow — and coincidentally the Kentucky Derby. But before we launch into our list of places with specials in the Borderstan area, please remember what you are celebrating (and drinking to) on Saturday.
First, it’s not Mexico’s Independence Day. The 5th of May commemorates the Mexican army’s unexpected victory over French forces in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. What, you ask, what were the French doing in Mexico? Read our preview story to find out (and you may be surprised to learn how some Mexican-Americans view the holiday).
Now, on to the main attraction. Here are 13 spots in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area with Cinco de Mayo specials.
Cinco de Mayo Specials in Borderstan
- Alero, 1301 U Street NW. Drink specials, such as $3.50 Mexican beers and $5.50 margaritas, plus food, outdoor seating and a DJ. What could be better?
- Alero, 1724 Connecticut Avenue NW. An outdoor bar on the patio, DJs and like its sister restaurant on Connecticut, they will have will have margaritas, appetizers and Dos Equis beer for $5 (Dos Equis for $3 after 8 pm).
- Cobalt, 1639 R Street NW. It’s Latin Night (first Saturday of every month) and $4 Coronas.
- Commissary, 1443 P Street NW. Start brunch with Bar Deity Mario Alfaro’s Bloody Mary, made with Commissary’s own jalapeno-infused tequila. The real party though begins at 4 pm, as Commissary rolls out the Happy Hour Specials. Select from the full menu of Margarita specials that include Fried Pulled Pork and Queso Freso Empanadas. Play the raffle game to win prizes, every hour on the hour (including an invitation for two to the May opening of The Pig.) Live entertainment features Latin Guitarist Ricardo Marlow, from 5 to 7:30pm. Reservations accepted.
- El Centro D.F., 1819 14th Street NW. “Special party to celebrate 150 years of Cinco de Mayo. $35 Bottomless Brunch starting at 11am until 5:00pm. After 6:00 the celebration moves to the rooftop $20 cover with music, $4 Mexican Beer and $5 Margaritas.”
- JR’s Bar & Grill, 1519 17th Street NW. “$5 frozen margaritas, $5 Coronas $5 rail vodka highballs $4 Coors light.”
- Judy Restaurant, 2212 14th Street NW. $3 Coronas and Dos Equis for $2.50. And, Judy’s has a live band every Saturday night.
- La Frontera, 1633 17th Street NW. Tecate and Corona beer and tequila for $3 from 3 to 7 pm. Cantina taco specials for $8.95. Remember: You get a great view of 17th Street, outdoor seating, and prime party-hopping potential.
- Lauriol Plaza, 1835 18th Street NW. It’s been Cinco de Mayo all week long. On Saturday, “Expect crowds, drink specials, and mariachi bands at this always-packed Tex-Mex hot spot. Also they will have the Cinco de Mayo Party Bus — Mariachis included.
- MOVA, 2204 14th Street NW.“We have a full day of events. Latin Soul DC is holding a party and we open at 3 pm… all-day $5 tequila, beer and Finlandia vodka drink specials. Two live performances in the evening.”
- Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U Street NW. Nellie’s will offer $4 Coronas and $4 drink specials. In addition, their $15 beer buckets include Corona for Cinco de Mayo.
- Policy, 1904 14th Street NW. “Party time, from 1 to 8pm for “Cinco de Mayo Meets Kentucky Derby”! DC, Come in your favorite boat shoes and a Sombrero to receive $3 Mint Juleps or Margaritas! Not feeling so adventurous, $5 for you!”
- Tortilla Coast, 1460 P Street NW. The celebration here started on Wednesday: “Have your picture with a life size cut-out of The Most Interesting Man in the World, and enjoy Dos Equis Amber and Lager at happy hour prices. Friday is margarita mixing with Cointreau Noir night and Saturday join the fiesta as Tortilla Coast introduces Tanteo Jalapeno Margarita made with infused jalapeno tequila. agave syrup and fresh lime juice.”
Please enjoy responsibly, folks, and here’s to a not too painful Seis de Mayo.
From Matty Rhoades. Email him at matty[AT]borderstan.com.
We knew Cinco de Mayo was becoming a serious DC celebration when we got an early notice from a local eatery regarding their plans for the 5th of May (Commissary and sister restaurant The Heights have planned special menus, are even taking reservations, and Commissary has lined up Latin guitarist Ricardo Marlow, from 5 to 7:30 pm.)
BTW, not worry, we’ll have a wrap up for you next week on what local venues are planning for 2012 Cinco de Mayo. But before you start planning your festivities (fortunately the holiday falls on a Saturday this year), and contemplating shots of tequila, let’s take a minute to clear up some common misconceptions about Cinco de Mayo.
No, It’s Not Mexico’s Independence Day
First, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. In 1861, the French invaded Mexico to force repayment of debts. The 5th of May, 1862, commemorates the Mexican army’s unexpected victoryover French forces at the Battle of Puebla. However, even with the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla, the French were able to gain control of the country. French Emperor Napoleon III installed Maximilian I (an Austrian) as emperor of Mexico, which lasted until 1867 when the French Army was finally driven from the country.
See? We told you that Cinco de Mayo is something much different than what you probably assumed.
Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores”) on September 16 is recognized in Mexico as Independence Day — on that day in 1810 the war for independence from Spain began. The day is also known as El Grito de la Independencia (“Cry of Independence”) or El Dieciseis de septiembre.
Mexican-Americans and Cinco de Mayo
So, what do Mexican-Americans think of Cinco de Mayo? Is it as important as the U.S. festivities might lead one to believe?
Borderstan Food Editor Alejandra Owens grew up in Arizona and her mother is Mexican-American. “While I’m hesitant to speak for a whole culture, I think you’d be hard pressed to find any Mexican-Americans that take the holiday seriously,” said Owens.
When asked if Americans understood Cinco de Mayo, Owens replied: “I think Americans are clueless about the holiday. Most would probably say it’s ‘Mexican Independence Day,’ but it’s not. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day — people just view it as a fun excuse to party. And maybe don some racially insensitive hats.” She added, “In Arizona, we were more likely to celebrate Rodeo Week.”
Local real estate agent Fernando Garcia was born in Texas and lived for a few years in Mexico with his family before moving back to Texas. “In our family, The Day of The Dead [Día de los Muertos] was celebrated and recognized more than Cinco de Mayo. We did celebrate El Dieciseis de Septiembre every year with fireworks and parties — not Cinco de Mayo,” said Garcia.
So, has Cinco de Mayo become “gringoized,” so to speak? “Very. This is very ‘Corporate America.’ Anything to make a buck and commercialize a holiday for profits,” said Garcia.
Danny Hernandez lives grew up in Texas and now lives in D.C. “When talking to my grandmother about Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Mexico, she said entire towns have events similar to a county fair. There are games, food, carnival attractions, dancing, a rodeo, a parade, and they elect a queen. It’s an all day celebration, but not something she found when she moved to the states, hence I didn’t grow up celebrating it in Texas,” said Hernandez.
How does Hernandez view the American version of the 5th of May? “When I moved to D.C. two years ago I was surprised at how many bars and restaraunts had Cinco de Mayo specials and events, despite the very small Mexican population here. My first Cinco de Mayo in the city, I texted the few Mexicans I knew, to ask how they would be celebrating. None of them had plans, even though many of my non-Mexican friends were going out,” said Hernandez.
Whatever your views about Cinco de Mayo — and how well you understand it — it’s a great day to have fun and remember that it signifies something important in Mexican history.
- Crimes of Note: Cinco de Mayo Barroom Brawl Edition
- Cinco de Mayo: Dónde Comer y Beber (y ¿Por qué?)