Cinco de Mayo falls on a Wednesday in 2021, and what a difference a year will make around D.C. Local celebrations for the annual holiday, which technically commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France in the 1862 Battle of Puebla, were tamped down in 2020 because the city prohibited all on-site dining in the early days of the pandemic. Crowds formed around several takeout lines at a time when crowds were not supposed to be forming. This year, bars and restaurants are allowed to fill dining rooms at 25-percent indoor capacity and seat up to 10 people in a single party. The boom in street seating and sidewalk patios should help spread out demand, at the very least. Here’s a look at which businesses are offering specials around the District.
Bark Social: The North Bethesda off-leash dog park/bar/cafe is offering $6 pints of Pacifico and bucket specials of Modelo cans (five for $25).
bartaco: The Mexican chain with outposts in Ballston and Reston sends out Cinco carne or veggie heat-and-eat kits for four to six, filled with two taco fillings, three sides, salsa verde, and chips (starting at $77 per person). Order by May 4, with the option to throw in a margarita kit for extra.
Barrel: Chef Walfer Hernandez is serving up barbecue and traditional taco platters on Cinco de Mayo ($35 for two to three) alongside beans, charred corn cilantro, and pickled celery root and carrots. Frozen strawberry margaritas ($6) and beer/tequila shots combos ($10) are also on tap.
Brine: Cinco de Mayo lands on a Wednesday, so guests can partake in its “Whole Maine Lobster Wednesdays” in addition to $5 Modelos and chips and salsa; margaritas ($10); ceviche, and shrimp or mahi mahi tacos ($18 for three). Available May 5 from 5 p.m. to close.
Cafe Saint-Ex: The Logan Circle staple replicates the buzzy basement vibes it’s known for with a pre-Cinco de Mayo party on its patio and outdoor bar on Tuesday, May 4. Look for taco Tuesday and Patron specials ($12-$14) starting at 5 p.m.
Cielo Rojo: Takoma Park’s acclaimed, casual Mexican restaurant rolls out a special menu for the holiday. There’s shrimp cocktail topped with serrano peppers and watercress ($13) and to-go margaritas by the glass ($9) or pitcher ($40) with Cazadores tequila reposado and a side of chile-lime salt and dehydrated limes.
Don Taco: Old Town’s tequila bar is running a limited edition pineapple-chile margarita for the occasion.
Donahue: Georgetown’s luxe new lounge offers a $65 seven-course tasting menu from chef Antonio Burrell with items like Snake River Farms beef cheeks, foie gras tacos, and lemongrass-coconut arroz con leche. Available May 3-9.
El Rey: The Hilton brothers’ Mexican bar off U Street NW gets the party started at noon, with an ice luge, beer and shot combo, and margaritas flowing until midnight.
El Tamarindo: “Cinco de Kahlo” at Adams Morgan’s festive Sal-Mex spot pays homage to the famous female Mexican painter with a pop-up retail shop (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.) and pickup kits ($65) featuring a dozen tacos or its popular pupusas with an accompanying 32-oz. margarita. Reserve a seat to partake in all-day specials on-site. Pre-order by 4 p.m. on May 4 for pickup on May 5 by 4 p.m.
El Techo: Shaw’s tropical rooftop oasis rings in the holiday with its new mango margarita and a DJ set that kicks off at 6 p.m.
Espita: The Southern Mexican mainstay in Shaw celebrates with strawberry cocktails that fold in honey, Yucatán liqueur, and cacao-coconut. Taqueria Las Gemelas, its new sister spot inside La Cosecha market in Northeast, offers a special strawberry frozen margarita for $11.
Mission: Score shots of Sauza and Patron for $7 to $11, Pacifico and margaritas by the pitcher, and discounted quesadillas ($8.50) in Dupont and Navy Yard, which also has a nacho deal for $10.
Nina May: The “Nina Mayo” menu returns with a multi-course “chef’s choice” menu ($44 per person), from May 4 to 6, plus five margarita options. Dishes include tamales, flank steak carne asada tacos, pozole rojo and tacos, and a tres leche cake topped with mascarpone whipped cream.
Paraiso: Capitol Hill’s modern taqueria celebrates Cinco all week long (through Sunday, May 9) with a three-course Mexican tasting menu for $35.
Pisco Y Nazca: Downtown’s reliable Peruvian restaurant slings margaritas for $7 all day.
PLNT Burger: Celebrity Chef Spike Mendelsohn releases a new meat-free “Baja” burger on Cinco de Mayo with guacamole, pepper jack cheese, fried jalapeños, and chipotle mayo.
Taco and Pina: The Shirlington taco spot offers build-your-own boxes with all the fillings for 25 tacos and a DIY nacho kit ($39).
TTT: The Mexican-inspired street food spot in Silver Spring and Clarendon discounts margaritas in four flavors to $6 per glass or $29 for a pitcher. To-go Cinco de Mayo Fiesta menus with a pound of protein, margs, and fix-ins is $60 per couple.
Union Pub: The Capitol Hill pub’s month-long Cinco specials continue through May 5 with $2 Jell-o shots; $6 Modelo or Corona Extra cans, and $30 mix-and-match buckets, along with $6 Pacifico drafts and $18 pitchers, plus $5 tequila shots from 4 p.m. to close.