by Lauren Sloat - 260 Reviews - 86 List
Traditionally, May 5 is a celebration of the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla. But let's face it: Here, it's a really good excuse to get tipsy on a Wednesday night (or afternoon, depending on your style). Washington, D.C., may be far from the border, but its Cinco de Mayo celebrations are not to be overlooked. Mariachi bands, margaritas, DJs and women covered in body paint are just part of what to expect at this year's celebrations in the district. Viva!
Updated: May 06, 2010
Find Cinco de Mayo central at this three-level 18th Street Mexican restaurant, which is bound to be the craziest of them all. Reservations will not be accepted, but if you can get in, expect food and drink specials all day long, as well as mariachi groups and giveaways from Dos Equis, Corona and more.
With the recent addition of a second patio dining space, Alero's U Street location is going all out for this year's festivities. A DJ will be spinning nonstop as patrons enjoy drink specials from five bars (two outside) amongst models covered in nothing but body paint. Mariachi bands will also make an appearance.
Though this 17th Street cantina is usually low-key, it typically sees block-long lines on May 5, when locals clamor for picnic tables in the large street-side patio--one of the area's best outdoor spaces. The restaurant will offer specials on margaritas and Mexican beer; just get there before 5pm to nab a spot.
For those who want to celebrate without throngs of drunk people, try Lauriol Plaza's low-key sister restaurant. The neighborhood joint purposefully won't do much to commemorate the holiday this year, which means the usual family crowd can enjoy a more quiet Mexican dinner without all the hoopla.
Leading up to the big day, this Dupont hot spot favored for its mojitos and happy hour deals will be offering $3 Dos Equis lager all night Monday through Wednesday and before 10pm Thursday through Friday throughout the month of April. Expect specials from Bacardi, Red Bull and Absolute on May 5.
One of the higher-end Mexican establishments in town, this Gallery Place restaurant will mark May 5 with pi?atas, live music, and drink and appetizer specials in addition to a special occasion menu. Watch for carts serving fresh fruit margaritas--they'll be even stronger than usual.
For something more upscale, head to this waterfront Mexican eatery, where tables overlook fountains and the Potomac, which is bound to be bumping with boats and party-goers. Managers say to expect something "huge," which will include live music and $20 pitchers of frozen margaritas ($25 for regular).
Reservations will be accepted at this Wisconsin Avenue Mexican eatery, and you'll want them to compete with American University students who often celebrate the end of finals here around the same time. Bartenders promise specials on margaritas, Mexican beer, and tequila, including Patron and other top shelf picks. For a party atmosphere, head to the fiesta room upstairs.