Everything to Do (and Not Do) at Cinco Phoenix Festival

It’s the largest celebration of the Southwest dedicated to commemorating Mexico’s victory over the French army back in 1826, and it goes down every year in Downtown Phoenix. The two-day block party known as Cinco Phoenix houses local food & drink vendors and pairs them with some great entertainment for locals to enjoy (festive dancing, boxing matches, musical performances). This year, the party kicks off on May 7th, and will undoubtedly prove that Phoenix is one of the best places to celebrate Cinco de Mayo -- and not just because there will be plenty of tequila and Super Balls (a fried concoction of a mashed potato, bacon, and cheese) to go around. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re looking to really join the celebration.

What to eat and drink

Mexican beer
Skip the Bud Light line.

Anything from Mama Jim’s food truck
Whether it be fat-cut fries, Super Balls (see above), or those wonderfully delicious sausage links wrapped in a Belgian waffle on a stick (aka swaffles), there's no shortage of food coming from Mama Jim's truck. Truth be told: everything is gluten-free. But don't worry, you'd never guess it.

It’s a staple of Hispanic history and was North America’s first distilled drink. If you're celebrating Cinco Phoenix, you've got to have a shot (or two) of the good stuff.

Handmade Mexican popsicles
Local ice cream pop maker Paletas Betty has shown up at the festival before, so there’s a good chance Betty Alatorre de Hong (the woman behind it) and her crew will be handing out some fresh fruit pops this year, too!

You’re going to want to stay hydrated on something other than just the beer and tequila at this festival. Try and keep the liquor-to-water consumption ratio equal... or close to it.

Meat on a stick
Street food reigns supreme at Cinco Phoenix. Don’t even think about leaving without getting yourself some wood-fired meat on a stick.

Street corn
What’s yellow, delicious, grilled, and covered in cheese? Mexican street corn! This popular option is also called “elote,” and if you prefer it served up in a bowl, you can always order the “esquites” instead.

Something from the Goya booth
Goya is the largest Hispanic foods producer in the US. Several representatives will be at Cinco Phoenix offering up a taste of some traditional dishes. Don't miss out!

What to do

Wear protection
Not that kind of protection (though that's always encouraged, also). We're actually talking about sunscreen. If you live in Phoenix, you should know this important golden rule: never leave home without some good sunscreen. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from getting fried in the Arizona sun. But still, wear your sunscreen -- unless you want to look like a chile pepper by the end of the festival.

Catch a performance
The festival celebrating all things Hispanic brings in notable Latin music performers each year. Be sure to catch a show!

Witness Ballet Folklórico
Ballet Folklórico has been performing for more than six decades to celebrate Latin American histories and traditions. Whether you've seen it or not, this highly choreographed performance is a can’t-miss at Cinco Phoenix.

What you should not do...

Try to jump into the ring with the lucha libres
We get it. After an afternoon of drinking tequila, you feel pretty damn invincible. But please, we highly advise you not to try to take on the trained wrestlers in the ring (unless you want to get knocked out).

Eat the ghost peppers
These things are 400 times hotter (!!) than Tabasco sauce. Seriously, you absolutely do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, want to eat these. (But boy, imagine if you did and lived to tell about it!

Bring a flag
We’re not telling you that you can’t; we’re just saying it’s probably not the best idea. Let's think: it'll be a hot day, and flags are heavy as hell. Plus, you're going to want to drink, right? Have you thought about how you’re going to handle a Mexican beer and street food and a giant flag? Didn’t think so.

Swallow the worm
You might be a risk taker... hell, even a daring eater of sorts. But if you’re the guy that will try anything, don’t. Skip the worm, and just sip on the tequila. Then go out and try one of these tequila-spiked foods.

What else can you do?

Grab a bite at FEZ
Central Phoenix
Take a pedicab -- or opt for the 15-minute walk to save a few bucks -- and get to FEZ. It’s located at the corner of Portland and Central, and is just the place you need to help sop up the day’s alcohol that's undoubtedly sloshing around in your gut.

Check out last call at Angel’s Trumpet Ale House
Downtown Phoenix
Just because the festival is over doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. This Downtown Phoenix beer joint has 31 taps of the best brew and wine offerings in Arizona.

End the celebration at Valley Bar
Finish your night at this drinkery just a block away from the event. Grab a bite from the kitchen, play a game of billiards, or just hang out in the Rose Room lounge until 2am. Then go to sleep. It's been a long day.

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Lauren Topor is a Phoenix writer who may or may not be making a few margarita-fueled bad decisions at Cinco Phoenix. Follow her to the tequila on Twitter and Instagram.