The Best Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in NYC
If Easter is the Christmas of spring, then Cinco de Mayo may be its New Year’s Eve: the peppy follow-up event characterized by booze, dance music, colorful streamers, and parties that rage on long after the sun folds into the Hudson. Every fifth of May, New Yorkers rally to celebrate Mexican culture through food, music, and -- most notably -- drinks. While mass intoxication isn’t exactly the reason for the season, it’s certainly enticing.
This year in NYC, May’s liveliest holiday takes flight with rooftop parties, taco-tasting competitions, a live donkey, and enough drink deals to keep you dancing through the weekend. So squeeze in a siesta before you fiesta, and maybe set aside some time to understand why you’re drinking in the first place. You’ve got a busy weekend ahead.
FOOD AND DRINK SPECIALS
Stroll out of the park and onto a patio for open-air drinking at Infamous Bistro. All day long, they’re serving mezcal palomas for a painless $8. The featured cocktail pairs fresh grapefruit and chili salt with the smoky liquor to create a unique, warm weather concoction. It’s smoke and spice at an affordable price.
Cost: $8 per paloma
Reward your appetite at any of Clinton Hill’s locations on Sunday. If you’re looking for discounts, get three tacos and three margaritas for $25 total, or order a bucket of Coronas for the same price. At 4pm, customers at the Williamsburg and 36th Street locations can also whack piñatas to score mini tequila bottles.
Cost: $25 taco and tequila flights; $25 buckets of Corona; standard menu prices vary
Dream Downtown’s resident Mexican hotspot vows to spice things up with the Habanero Hot Box, a pair of tacos packed with four types of chiles, four cheeses, and a smattering of salsas, habanero cream, jalapeno chorizo, and cotija on top. The flaming dish, available from May 1 through the summer, arrives in a smoke-filled glass dome, and until Cinco de Mayo, brave patrons can get the new, creamy El Medico cocktail at half-price to soften the blow.
Cost: The Habanero Hot Box (two tacos) costs $16; the El Medico is $8 from May 1-5
Elevated drinking adds pizzazz to any boozy fiesta, so when Hotel Hugo’s classy rooftop bar promises Cinco de Mayo discounts on a whole roster of drinks, you know you’re in for a good time. All Sunday night, take in Lower Manhattan views and reasonably priced liquor at a beloved SoHo spot. May 5’s must-try is the El Tapatio, a tequila-based cocktail with flavors of orange, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime.
Cost: Select beers are $6; house wine is $8; well cocktails are $9; specialty cocktails (including the El Tapatio) are $10
For one week only, you’ll find Cinco-inspired pita tacos at all Hummus & Pita Co. locations. From Friday, May 3, to Friday, May 10, fill fried pita “taco shells” with any combination of their usual ingredients. Falafel? Toss it in the taco. Turkish meatballs? Go for it. Chicken tabun? It’s holiday chicken now. Top with veggies, salads, and a signature hummus for a well-rounded celebratory bite.
Cost: $9.95 for a set of three tacos
When cideries and Mexican holidays overlap, amazing things happen. Brooklyn Cider House just reopened its outdoor deck, and Cinco de Mayo weekend offers the perfect excuse to break it in. On Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, you’ll find Cider-Ritas, chips & guac, and $2 tacos on the menu. BCH has plenty of other Cinco-friendly options, too, like the shareable Cider House Nachos, complete with your choice of pulled pork, chicken, or veggies.
Cost: $2 tacos; $10 Cider-Ritas; $9 chips & guac; prices for standard menu items vary
Ed is keeping it simple this year, but when a seafood joint decides to take part in the fun at all, who’s to say it’s not enough? Cut to the chase with half-priced mojitos and margs between 3 and 7pm on May 5. It may not be the most traditional Cinco destination, but celebrations are what you make of them -- plus, their fish tacos are plenty on-theme.
Cost: Cocktails normally run around $12-13; cut in half, you’re looking at less-than-$7 drinks
On May 5, customers at sister bars The Flying Cock and The Horny Ram can expect ice cold beer buckets ($36) and regular happy hour specials from 4-7pm. The Horny Ram will also serve freshly made margaritas ($13) all day long, marked down to $7 at happy hour.
Cost: An ice bucket with six beers runs $36; margaritas at The Horny Ram are $13 for most of the day, $7 during happy hour
PARTIES AND EVENTS
Help Thrillist find the best taco in town at this year’s Taco Knockout, where 15 taquerias will serve up their most prized recipes in an attempt to win your vote. Between sampling, stop by the Michelada bar for a custom drink, listen to live music, and snap a pic at the photo booth. That’s living life to the Thrillist.
Lower East Side
Slink between five watering holes at this holiday bar crawl. Register at Libation between 2 and 6pm and set on your way. Most spots have food and drink promotions until 10, but if it’s a mariachi band you seek, drop into Casa Mezcal before they pack up at 5. Consider tonight a pregame for Sunday’s main events.
Cost: $10 wristbands ($7.50 each for groups of four or more) get you discounted drinks at participating bars
Take Cuatro de Mayo up 20 levels at one of NYC’s best rooftop bars, 230 Fifth. The 20th-floor penthouse comes to life at 8pm, and for the first hour, drinks are 2-for-1, and apps are free throughout the evening. Of course, no skyline-adjacent party’s complete without DJs and dancing, so come prepared to break a sweat as you ring in the month’s booziest day.
Cost: $20 admission; 2-for-1 drink specials for the first hour
Bleecker Street’s Ghost Donkey and Saxon + Parole are bringing extravagance this Cinco season. Their joint party begins at 1pm, when guests can feast at a whole roasted pig taco bar, order a variety of Mexican drinks, dance to a hip-hop mariachi band, see a pro nacho eating contest, and pose for a pic with a live donkey. It’ll be a celebration to remember, minus the hefty entrance fee.
Cost: No tickets necessary, but come prepared to pay standard menu prices for food and drinks; table reservations can be made for groups of 10+
Yeah it makes your clothes fall off, but like, what is it? Gain a deeper knowledge of your favorite agave spirit at Tequila 101 in the Chelsea Market. Learn what goes into making tequila and how to best use it while sampling four hand-crafted variations, plus its smoky sister spirit, mezcal. The afternoon course is a perfect precursor to your evening festivities, and an excellent day drinking justification.
Lower East Side
Open bar, all-you-can-eat tacos, margarita tastings, and guacamole? The Taco Celebration has it all. From 6-8:30pm, soak up the party in Vandal’s Secret Garden, an art-forward indoor/outdoor dining space perfect for celebrating.
House of Yes shimmies the extra mile for holiday celebrations, and CINCO has all the markings of another successful Bushwick rager. Let tequila take control as two Brooklyn musicians set the dancefloor mood from 3pm till around 10. Unlike most HoY parties, CINCO is free to enter. Come ready to dance the day away -- this just might be NYC’s wildest May 5 fiesta.
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