Chicago gears up for Cinco de Mayo

By Bertha Serrano

There’s no better day to find an excuse to party, eat authentic Mexican food and drink tequila and Mexican beer than on Cinco de Mayo.

While most might forget why the day is an important part of Mexico’s history, this day does mean big business for restaurants.  As it is often confused with Mexican Independence Day, which falls on Sept. 16, Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico defeating the French in 1862.

Though the parade and festivals have already passed, there are still a lot of places to go and get the best deals on food and drinks.

Whether you’re looking for cheap food and drinks, live mariachi music, BYOB spots, or to learn what the holiday is all about, here’s a list of what’s going on.

Food and Drinks

Maya Restaurant on Oak Park Avenue

144 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, Ill.

(708) 358-9800

Since it opened in October 2007, the menu of this Latino fusion restaurant includes food from Colombia, Peru, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Argentina.

Justin Perez is an assistant supervisor at the restaurant. He said their celebration for Cinco de Mayo will run for five days from May 1 to May 5.

“We’re doing five days of $5 sangria, $5 margaritas and $5 appetizers,” he said, “We will also open our patio that day and have dinner specials.”


358 W. Ontario St.

(312) 302-9977

The restaurant serves small Mexican dishes, as well as a variety of 130 different tequilas to choose from. The price for food and drinks ranges from $4 to $18.

Fonda del Mar

3749 W. Fullerton Ave.

(773) 489-3748

For those who are not fans of meat, this seafood restaurant offers a variety of desserts, wines and drinks. Prices range from $7 to $24.

Live mariachi

Adobo Grill

1610 N. Wells St.

(312) 266-7999

The restaurant has decided to go all out by creating a special Cinco de Mayo menu. Jorge Ortiz, one of the managers, said this year they decided to adorn the restaurant with Mexican decorations to make people feel as if they were in Mexico.

If the decorations aren’t enough, the restaurant will have live mariachi music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. They will also be serving special margaritas made with Jimador tequila.

“We will have traditional plates from the state of Puebla, where the battle took place,” Ortiz said. “We will have a traditional dish called chiles enlogada. It’s made with poblano green peppers filled with celery pork, raisins and pineapples.”


Nuevo Leon Restaurant

1515 W. 18th St.

(312) 421-1517

Since the restaurant opened 40 years ago in Pilsen, it continues to be one of the most popular places in the neighborhood. Though the menu doesn’t include beer or alcoholic beverages, feel free to BYOB.

Cinco de Mayo presentations

Chicago History Museum

1601 N. Clark St.

(312) 642-4600

For the first time ever, the museum will be celebrating the holiday. The night will start off with a lecture of what Cinco de Mayo is about.

After the lecture, there will be a demonstration where experts from Adobe Grill will show how to make a margarita. A live mariachi band will be playing at the party where attendees can try tequila, eat guacamole and taste the Aztec version chocolate of Vosges Haut-Chocolat. The event is $25 for non members and $20 for members.

Liz Garibay is the public programs manager at the Chicago History Museum.

“This is the first time we’re doing it because in October we are opening an exhibition about Benito Juarez and it’s the first of its kind,” Garibay said. “It’s our way to create buzz toward that exhibition.”