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10 Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Style in New York City

Enjoy good food, good drink, and (finally) good company on Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is an interesting holiday. While it commemorates a battle that was fought in Mexico, Mexico doesn’t celebrate it. And what’s even more perplexing is that outside of Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is often confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is actually on September 16. For those of you interested in the origins of this crazy fiesta day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Batalla de Puebla fought on May 5, 1862 in which the small town of Puebla defeated invading French troops.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in NYC

So, why is Cinco de Mayo such a big deal north of the border? The origins of its celebration began in California in 1863 as a symbol of solidarity with Mexico against France. And, Americans being Americans, we love having a reason to celebrate.

King David Tacos

Start your holiday with Tex-Mex breakfast tacos from King David Tacos. The Brooklyn-based import from Austin is all the rage and will deliver a variety of taco bundles with choices like queen bean (refried beans potato, egg, cheese), Mom’s migas (eggs scrambled with Mom’s salsa and tortilla chips, with jalapeno rajas, cheese), or the No. 5 (chili non carne, beans, potato). For Cinco de Mayo, order their Taco Drop delivery and you’ll get two Mexican spring water Topo Chicos as a bonus. Just heat and eat. If you’re out and about, they also have carts at Madison Square Park and Prospect Park.

King David Tacos sells breakfast tacos l Where Traveler
King David's Tacos (Courtesy King David's Tacos)

Los Tacos No. 1

They don't look like much, but the lines tell a different story. The multi-station Los Tacos No. 1 stands in Chelsea Market and Times Square are the real deal when it comes to Mexican tacos. Los Tacos No. 1 was created after three friends from Tijuana, Mexico and California decided to bring authentic Mexican bites to the East Coast, using family recipes with fresh and simple ingredients. You’ll have to bring your own margaritas, though – they don’t serve alcohol.

Los Tacos No. 1 offers Mexican street food l Where Traveler
Los Tacos No. 1 (Courtesy Times Square Alliance)

The Gumbo Bros

For a Cajun spin on the holiday, The Gumbo Bros offers a NOLA-inflected special for Cinco de Mayo. For a whopping $5, you can order two catfish tacos. The Boerum Hill eatery is what happens when Mardi Gras meets Cinco de Mayo. You can chow down on the tacos, get your hands dirty with their crawfish boil (call to arrange) and drink a few hurricanes or Abita’s to toast the holiday.

Gumbo Bros is inspired Cajun food in Brooklyn l Where Traveler
Gumbo Bros (Courtesy Gumbo Bros)

Universal Taco

Popular Soho ghost kitchen Universal Taco has party packs to spice up your at-home celebration. The appetizer-to-dessert package includes traditional pork carnitas, salsa rojo, tamales with rajas and Oaxacan cheese, guacamole and chips. Top them off with onion, cilantro and jalapeno, to your liking, and choose corn or flour tortillas. Buñuelos add a sweet finish. Taco fans can add a range of globally inspired versions: Baja-style shrimp, chicken shawarma, beef gyro, Peking duck, Argentine skirt steak, and pork carnitas. Vegetarians aren’t left out –  try the roasted cauliflower taco or Moo Shu veggie style with mushrooms and cabbage.

Pork carnitas from Universal Taco l Where Traveler
Pork carnitas from Universal Taco (@universaltaconyc/Instagram)

Seamore’s

Created by Seamore’s Montauk-inspired sustainable seafood restaurants in Manhattan, the “Shrimp Taco Meal Kit” celebrates Cinco de Mayo with peppery salsa macha- braised shrimp, avocado, tortillas, lime crema and cabbage. Baldor Specialty Foods makes it easy for you — they deliver, you eat. Add your own tequila and you won’t even mind the easy clean-up.

Seamore's Shrimp Taco Pack from Baldor Specialty Foods l Where Traveler
Seamore's Shrimp Taco Meal Kit (Courtesy Baldor Specialty Foods)

Rosie’s

East Village Mexican bistro, Rosie’s, has put it all together for you with their “Rosie’s Taco Kit.” Designed for a festive taco night at home, you can say you’ve done some of the cooking yourself with this party kit. You’ll get three different salsas, fresh ingredients to make your own guacamole, and three different taco fillings. Not to worry, though, the kit comes with step-by-step directions.  Order yours from Baldor Specialty Foods.

Cantina Rooftop

Plan an outdoor fiesta with your gang at Cantina Rooftop in Hell’s Kitchen. If you time it right, the sunset is a perfect backdrop to the colorful umbrellas covering the tables. Go a little crazy with your group and share the totally instagrammable 8.5-pound Big Ass Taco or the 15-pound Big Ass Burrito.  Wash everything down with a fruity Niña Fresa, made with Don Diego Silver tequila, watermelon, strawberry and St. Germaine.

Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo at Sinigual l Where Traveler
Margaritas at Sinigual (Courtesy Sinigual)

Sinigual

Sinigual will entertain you on Cinco de Mayo on their lovely patio with a mariachi band from 4-7 p.m. Order one of their handcrafted margaritas; guacamole as you like it, made tableside; and a pile of their sizzling fajitas, and let the party begin.

Guacamole made tableside at Sinigual l Where Traveler
Tableside guacamole at Sinigual (Courtesy Sinigual)

Casa del Toro

For more entertainment, Casa Del Toro, the Oaxacan-inspired taqueria in Hell’s Kitchen presents a fiesta to remember with live entertainment from aerialists, contortionists and dancers.  The restaurant’s full Mexican menu and complimentary Patron tastings might have you dancing as you pose for photo opportunities in front of a step and repeat wall.

Entertainment on Cinco de Mayo at Casa del Toro l Where Traveler
Aerialists at Casa del Toro (Courtesy Casa del Toro)

Tipsy Scoop and Tanteo Tequila

What would Cinco de Mayo be without tequila ice cream? To celebrate, Tanteo Tequila has collaborated with Brooklyn’s Tipsy Scoop and Natalie’s Juice to create two special 100% agave-infused boozy desserts for Cinco de Mayo. The Tipsy Squeeze ( vanilla ice cream with orange juice, strawberry and Blanco tequila), and The Spicy Fiesta (key lime sorbet made with Natalie’s margarita mix and jalapeno tequila) and both  5% ABV per serving. You can buy them from Tipsy Scoop’s locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan or online for same-day delivery in NYC.

Boozy ice cream from Tipsy Scoop l Where Traveler
Tipsy Scoop's tequila-infused desserts (Courtesy Natalie's Juices)