It's that time of year again, when you leave work early to down multiple margaritas and large amounts of Mexican food in super-crowded bars and restaurants because, well it's Cinco de Mayo (which FYI, is not actually Mexican Independence Day). Here, a handy guide to drink specials, dinner deals, and fun events, where you can get your annual Cinco celebration on. De nada.
The best restaurant specials and bar deals
West Hollywood (& other locations)
Rick Bayless's Mexican mecca will be doing food specials in the bar and lounge as well as $5 Coronas & Modelos, $7 El Tesoro margaritas, and $10 Patron silver shots for those who feel that margaritas take too long to drink. OC-ers can catch rock band the Sarcastics while enjoying all of the above at the Newport Beach location, with live music at at all locations on the 5th.
While the Ritz-Carlton's rooftop patio is typically reserved for hotel guests and residents, Cinco de Mayo will serve as kickoff for the restaurant’s summertime programming series on the roof; on Tuesday, Wolfie will be serving up $3 Santa Barbara spot prawn tacos (you can also get chorizo or roasted pork shoulder versions for the same price) along with house-made churros and a lineup of margaritas.
Beverly Grove (& other locations)
From 4pm 'til midnight, the upscale Mexican eatery will be shaking $8 house margaritas, $10 Cadillacs, and serving $4 cans of Modelo along with $7-$9 specials on plates of guacamole, tamales, carnitas tacos, and choriqueso dip. Look for deals at the affiliated Yxta Downtown and Maradentro in Brentwood and Studio City too.
The neighborhood bistro will be dabbling in Mexican fare for the night with a $15 Mahi Mahi taco platter served with rice & beans, chips, and homemade guacamole and offering $8 Patron margaritas.
Vegetarians won't have to worry about lard in the refried beans at this plant-based restaurant, which will be serving both seasonal margaritas and a peach-and-yellow-heirloom-tomato sangrita along with complimentary cotton candy. A mariachi band will start on the patio at 5pm, where diners can try a tempeh chorizo chimichanga with a cashew chipotle aioli special for $13.
The 60-year-old bar and restaurant is celebrating with a Throwback Thursday deal where you can get a 60-cent taco with the purchase of its Boss margarita. After you've had a few of them, snap some pics in the one-night-only photo booth complete with props. (Sombreros, we're guessing?)
Downtown (& other locations)
The comfort food spot will be adding some specials including a Cheeseburger Machismo with habanero cheese, jalapeño escabeche, and fried onions for $13, which you can eat alongside $8 Oaxacan sours. Get there before happy hour ends at 7pm to grab two tacos hamburguesa with guac or a green chile-pimento grilled cheese with bacon for $8 and the usual lineup of discounted drinks.
Manhattan Beach (& Hermosa Beach)
In true South Bay bar fashion, happy hour will kick off at 11am on Thursday, which means you can (uh-oh) buy any drink and get a second for a quarter. There are also $7.50 CoronaRitas, foursomes of Coronas for $17.50, and 80oz buckets of drinks with names like Donkey Punch and Shark Attack for $24. But wait, you can also compete for cash via the big bad burrito challenge, a serrano-eating contest, and a margarita brain freeze competition, all of which are virtually guaranteed not to end well. Which only makes them waaaay more fun.
This mezcal bar is throwing its own little Cinco celebration filled with tacos, Sino tequila paloma cocktails, $6 margaritas till 8pm, and a live mariachi band to top it all off.
The stalwart spot that was firmly planted on Rose Ave decades before it was hot will be doing $5 Dos Equis on tap, $6 Patron Silver shots, and $10 for two times the fun with double house margaritas. Cinco de Mayo also happens to be the one day of the year the place puts its mariachi band on the roof. (Do note that there isn't suddenly a new roof-deck patio where customers can hang or anything, they'll just be, you know, standing up on the roof playing.)
The outdoor lounge at the Fairmont will throwing a Cinco de Mayo party with entertainment by legit mariachi act, Mariachi Mi Jalisco, as well as DJ Max Van Ville. Their Mexican-inspired menu will include a lineup of margaritas and micheladas, plus food specials like tacos, nachos, and carnitas.
May 5 Thu
Organizers of this Downtown theatrical blowout are describing it as "striking a balance between heart-pumping live music and politically charged visual and performance art." So expect art exhibits, piñatas, poets, burlesque dancers, interactive media, and more than 20 musical acts on three stages including headliners Alvin Risk, Lucent Dossier, and Sam Sparro. Tickets range from $40 to $80 and all include an open tequila bar until 9pm.
Belasco Theater, Downtown, 7pm to 3am
Belasco Theater, Downtown, 7pm to 3am Organizers of this Downtown theatrical blowout are describing it as "striking a balance between heart-pumping live music and politically charged visual and performance art." So expect art exhibits, piñatas, poets, burlesque dancers, interactive media, and more than 20 musical acts on three stages including headliners Alvin Risk, Lucent Dossier, and Sam Sparro. Tickets range from $40 to $80 and all include an open tequila bar until 9pm.
May 5 Thu
It's hard to imagine not finding a good time at this Mexican masked wrestling and striptease extravaganza that'll also be featuring mariachi music, Aztec dancers, a contortionist, a world-record-holding hula hooper, tamales, and, of course, tequila. And if you’re somewhere else on Cinco proper, they'll be doing it all again on the 6th. $48.50.
The Mayan Theater, Downtown, 8pm
The Mayan Theater, Downtown, 8pm It's hard to imagine not finding a good time at this Mexican masked wrestling and striptease extravaganza that'll also be featuring mariachi music, Aztec dancers, a contortionist, a world-record-holding hula hooper, tamales, and, of course, tequila. And if you’re somewhere else on Cinco proper, they'll be doing it all again on the 6th. $48.50.
May 5 Thu
The place looks like one big Cinco de Mayo party all year, but goes all out on the big holiday, when crowds line up to get into the affair that goes well into the night. This year there will be a margarita bar offering Avion, Hornitos, Partida, and Casamigos along with draft beers and Mexican bottles. And they'll be setting up an outdoor grill to dole out quesadillas and street tacos. The band Crowd Theory comes on at 6pm. And if you simply can't wait till 3pm to get going, the regular restaurant and patio start serving the regular menu at 11:30am.
Baja Cantina, Marina del Rey, 3pm
Baja Cantina, Marina del Rey, 3pm The place looks like one big Cinco de Mayo party all year, but goes all out on the big holiday, when crowds line up to get into the affair that goes well into the night. This year there will be a margarita bar offering Avion, Hornitos, Partida, and Casamigos along with draft beers and Mexican bottles. And they'll be setting up an outdoor grill to dole out quesadillas and street tacos. The band Crowd Theory comes on at 6pm. And if you simply can't wait till 3pm to get going, the regular restaurant and patio start serving the regular menu at 11:30am.
1. Red O8155 Melrose, Los Angeles
2. WP24LA Live, Los Angeles
3. Mercado7910 W 3rd St, Los Angeles
4. Magnolia6266 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
5. Gracias Madre8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood
6. Casa Vega13301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
7. Plan Check1111 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
8. Baja Sharkeez3600 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach
9. La Cabaña738 Rose Ave, Venice
10. The Bungalow101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica
This glossed-up Mexican eatery in West Hollywood (with a second location in Newport Beach) is the brainchild of chef Rick Bayless, one of the country's most lauded Mexican cuisine chefs. Expect tamales and enchiladas as authentic as they come, plus prime steaks and lighter California fare (ahem, kale salad). The sleek and upscale space features outdoor seating, high ceilings, and massive contemporary chandeliers.
Wolfgang Puck's 24th-floor fine dining room at the Ritz-Carlton is an ode to Asian cuisine, featuring fusion appetizers, sushi, dumplings, and wok-fried large plates. If the sophisticated mostly-Chinese eats and 400-plus wine selection doesn't impress you much, the panoramic view of Los Angeles surely will.
Since opening its first location in Santa Monica, this upscale Mexican eatery has expanded across LA with a second location downtown (and another in Hollywood). Mercado delivers quintessential small and large plates alongside a lengthy cocktail menu in a casual space decked out with colorful artwork. Expect homestyle eats like enchiladas with mole sauce, slow-cooked carnitas, and solid guacamole. More than 70 tequila options will have you beelining for the open air bar.
This Sunset Boulevard bistro serves a smacking menu of classic American fare in an upscale-but-casual space that's quintessentially LA. Expect eats like baked mac & cheese, tuna tartare, and mint chip ice cream sandwiches, and a full bar serving up craft beer, wine, and cocktails. Magnolia's prime location near ArcLight Cinemas and the Palladium make it a great pre- or -post- show stop, but honestly, it's perfect for any occasion.
You’ll say gracias to this madre of a vegan restaurant when you taste chilaquiles, enchiladas, pozole, and other Mexican-inspired dishes made with organic, plant-based ingredients. No matter how much you live and die for carne asada, you'll find Gracias Madre's meat-free creations (coconut bacon, flash-fried cauliflower) beyond satisfying. Plus, no outdoor space in WeHo feels so quintessentially Californian.
Sometimes, you don't want to go to the hot new Mexican restaurant where bartenders are called mixologists and the menu is filled with unrecognizable small plates. You want the Spanish-roofed restaurant that feels like 1950s Mexico in an unironic way, where old-school bartenders make strong drinks with no-name tequila and every table has a side of rice and beans. That's when you go to Casa Vega, a 60-year-old bar and restaurant in Sherman Oaks where uncomplicated burritos and fajitas are the plates du jour and the signature margaritas flow like water.
This sophisticated gastropub -- with a few locations across Los Angeles -- is acclaimed for its burgers, whiskey, and craft beer. The namesake Plan Check burger, topped with pickles, onions, and Americanized dashi cheese, is famous for its layer of Ketchup Leather, which is a square of dehydrated tomato paste that melts over the patty like a layer of cheese. Plan Check’s comfort food vibe makes for a hip and social ambience, complemented by tall communal tables and plenty of bar seating.
This South Bay mini-chain is a go-to for bros and beach goers alike for its sports bar-meets-Mexican restaurant vibes. The loaded menu features hearty tacos and burritos with an emphasis on seafood, plus burgers, tortas, and fajitas. A drinking hub above all, Baja Sharkeez doles out party buckets and pitchers of tropical drinks, margaritas, and mojitos, and naturally, has a killer weekday happy hour. The beach is within walking distance, so if you load up on one too many super-sized margaritas, you can walk it off as the sun sets over the Pacific.
La Cabana is a late-night, old-school Mexican restaurant that's been in Venice long before the neighborhood was deemed trendy. The 70-year-old cantina staple serves highly-lauded wet burritos, chicken quesadillas, and reliable salty-and-cheesy eats that are particularly crave-worthy after a few margaritas -- including free chips and salsa. The bright back patio is a great spot to soak in the California sunshine during the day and take in the cool breeze at night.
This sprawling, indoor/outdoor lounge at the Fairmont Santa Monica is rustic, bougie-in-a-good-way, and straight-up charming. The beautifully designed patio is decked out with lanterns and close enough to the beach (aka, right across the street) to catch the ocean breeze. Accouterments like a fire pit and ping pong table make The Bungalow a great place to start the night with a few happy hour drinks.