When the Mexican Army won a battle over the French on May 5, 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War, they almost certainly didn't celebrate by clanking mugs of margaritas.
That Cinco de Mayo tradition came later, when this minor holiday in Mexico turned into a commercialized drinking holiday in the United States. While Dallas-Fort Worth is home to plenty of great Mexican restaurants serving margaritas, take a moment to honor the date's heritage first.
On May 5, Jorge Baldor and Carlos Gonzalez-Jaime invite the public to The Latino Arts Project, "a Dallas Design District space filled with people of all ages and nationalities seeking to embrace art, culture and history under a single roof," our Michael Granberry described in a Dallas Morning News story. While the space's first show features modern Mexican sculptures, its creators also plan to host lectures, dance, poetry performances, concerts and more. The first exhibition runs through September. Admission is free on May 5 and $12 per person thereafter. latinoartsproject.org.
On Cinco de Mayo weekend, parades abound — and they're an excellent way to celebrate because they often honor mariachi bands, folklorico dancers and Mexican-American people in North Texas. One of the biggest is the Dallas Cinco de Mayo Parade and Festival, a free parade starting at 1 p.m. May 5 and run by the Oak Cliff Coalition for the Arts, Inc. The Grand Prairie Cinco de Mayo Parade and Celebration is a day prior, on May 4, starting at 10 a.m. gptx.org and oakcliffart.org.
For more parties without the parade, there's Gables Water Street's Cinco de Mayo festival in Las Colinas from noon to 5 p.m. May 4; Garland Cinco de Mayo's daylong event, from 1 to 9 p.m., May 5; and a two-day concert May 4 and 5 at Traders Village. All three events are free. facebook.com, cincodemayogarlandtx.com and tradersvillage.com.
For anyone near Arlington for the Texas Rangers game the afternoon of May 5, Texas Live is hosting an afterparty for $5, with KNON DJs playing music. And in the Irving Mall parking lot, the Cinco de Mayo Latin Music Festival will honor three bands, finishing with Rick Fuentes and the Brown Express. General admission is free; VIP tickets available for $25. texas-live.com/events and eventbrite.com.
And here's one we didn't see coming: Taco Cabana is celebrating not only with food specials but with a free salsa-dancing lesson. The fun takes place at Taco Cabana at 1827 Greenville Ave., Dallas, from 8 to 9 p.m. May 4. There's a dance party until midnight. That same day, Taco Cabana is selling a six-pack of flautas for $5. See your local Taco Cabana for other specials running May 1 through 5, including a limited-time-only margarita for $4. tacocabana.com.
Where to eat
Cinco de Mayo is a great day to visit a Mexican restaurant in North Texas, whether it's an old favorite or one you've been meaning to try.
Anyone celebrating early can head to Lala's Mexican Cafe in Dallas on May 2 from 4 to 7 p.m. It's one of the rare restaurants offering a free margarita and free taco for each customer. Valet is free, too. lalasmexicancafedallas.us.
Would you rather stretch out your celebration? El Corazon in McKinney is hosting a four-day fiesta, from May 2 through 5, that doubles as a one-year anniversary party. The Cuellar family's "white wings" — an appetizer of chicken, jalapeños and Jack cheese, wrapped in bacon and fried — cost $5. On May 4, the restaurant is also selling its two-person fajitas for $20, which is up to $10 off the regular price. Wash it all down with $4 house margaritas. elcorazontexmex.com.
Holy Grail Pub in Plano is selling four tacos May 3 through 5. They're likely to pair with Clown Shoes' beer called Mocha Sombrero; Epic Brewing Company's Los Locos Lager; or Legal Draft Beer Company's You've Been Cerveza'd, all available at the pub on Cinco de Mayo weekend. holygrailpub.com.
Legacy Hall in Plano is planning a party May 4 and 5 with live music. Artists include Mariachi Nuevo Era; the Squeezebox Bandits; Havana NRG and Brave Combo. For anyone on-site on May 4, the music will pause for the Kentucky Derby. This fiesta is free. eventbrite.com.
At The Rustic in Dallas, the party starts early on May 5, at 10 a.m. for brunch and live music. It continues until midnight, with a photo booth, taco and tequila flights and even a visit from Poncho the miniature donkey. therustic.com.
Surprising but true: Vidorra in Deep Ellum will also have a donkey on-site on Cinco de Mayo. The restaurant is selling $2 tacos and $5 margaritas on May 5. Their party continues all day, with a mariachi band, a DJ and the aforementioned donkey. vidorradallas.com.
For a sweet treat, SusieCakes is making churro cupcakes: a vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and a dust of cinnamon-sugar. They're available May 3 through 5 at all SusieCakes in D-FW and cost $3.50 each. susiecakes.com.
Margaritas & more
Mattito's hosts one of the biggest Cinco de Mayo parties in the region. While they'll be celebrating at Mattito's in Las Colinas and North Dallas, the main event is at the Oak Lawn Avenue restaurant in Dallas. mattitos.com.
Chuy's throws a pretty serious party, too — three days of drink specials, from May 3 through 5. Customers will find $1 floaters all three days, $1 off certain margaritas on May 4 and 5, and even more drink specials on Cinco de Mayo specifically, including $5 queso or guacamole. Chuy's has more than 100 restaurants nationwide, with more than a half-dozen across North Texas. chuys.com.
Repeat after us: Exercise first, alcohol second. At El Rincon Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar in Carrollton, though, it's up to you: They're hosting a $10 "tipsy yoga class" on May 4. (The price includes two drinks and bites at brunchtime.) That evening, a band called Smooth Condition will play Top 40 hits. All weekend, the restaurant is dropping the price of its house margaritas by the day: They're $5 on May 3, $4 on May 4 and $3 on May 5. Anyone from Collin County should keep an eye on this restaurant, as it's expected to open in Frisco this summer. elrincontx.com.
TNT / Tacos and Tequila in Uptown is celebrating both tacos and tequila. They have $6 house margaritas; $8 top-shelf margaritas; $10 tequila shots and $20 margarita pitchers. For tacos, they're offering a $15 "endless street taco bar." Expect a DJ and a salsa dancing contest. tacosandtequilatnt.com.
Mexican Sugar in Plano is having an all-day party on May 5, with $8 margaritas (including classic margs served on-the-rocks or frozen, and also mango and strawberry); and $4 Corona, Corona Extra, Modelo and Pacifico. It isn't just for adults, however: They're planning to offer several activities for kids, including face painting and balloon animals. mexicansugarcocina.com.
At On the Border — which has dozens of restaurants dotting Dallas-Fort Worth — they're selling $5 house margaritas on Cinco de Mayo and $3 Jose Cuervo Gold tequila shots. ontheborder.com.
At Yard House in Addison and Las Colinas, margaritas cost $5 on May 5. (Regular price is $10.50, so that's more than half price!) The deal includes the house, salted watermelon and pomegranate margs. yardhouse.com.
Adventurers should head to Fort Worth for a taco and margarita crawl in the West 7th area on May 5. Tickets start at $17.99 and the event starts at 4 p.m., with seven bars on the route. If you make it through the entire crawl, better get a safe ride home. barcrawlnation.com/fort worth.
Do you have some money to spend? Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Plano is pouring a $100 margarita made with Tequila Ocho and served in a Baccarat tumbler. It's available May 1 through 31, and anyone who buys it gets to take home the crystal glass, valued at $150. Fancy! flemingssteakhouse.com.