Think Cinco de Mayo is just like any other holiday? Think again: In Los Angeles, the fifth of May is a citywide celebration. From Santa Monica to East L.A., join the all-day fiesta from the city’s longest-running taco festival, Taco Madness, to a journey through the cuisines of Mexico at the Million Dollar Theater. Here’s your guide to the best Cinco de Mayo events, things to do, where to eat, and what to drink. Salud!
What is Cinco de Mayo? Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that celebrates an against-the-odds and victorious battle the Mexican army won over the French, who invaded the east coast of Mexico near Veracruz in 1861 and pushed toward Mexico City, the capital. The battle took place on May 5, 1862, near the town of Puebla.
TACO MADNESS – La Plaza de Cultura y Artes
501 N. Main St., Los Angeles, 90012
Now in its 9th edition, Taco Madness is taking place at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes on Cinco de Mayo. Presented by LA Taco, L.A.’s longest running taco festival celebrates the taco lifestyle with the best tacos from carts, stands, and trucks to award-winning chefs and restaurants. Featured tacos include Guerrilla Tacos, Mariscos Jalisco, Ramona’s, Carnitas el Momo, Tacos Arabes de Puebla, Sonoratown, Leo’s Taco Truck, Burritos La Palma, Chichen Itza, Balam, Taqueria la Venganza and Todo Verde. Enjoy with Micheladas and craft beer from Boomtown Brewery, Indie Brewing Company, and Wiretap Brewing. There’s also DJs and cumbia, live art, an Xbox game lounge, photo booth and more.
General Admission is free. Tickets for VIP Hour from 5-6pm are $25 and include early entry, free cocktail samplings, and a swag bag (while supplies last). Tickets are now on sale at Eventbrite.
Cinco de Mayo Weekend – El Pueblo de Los Angeles
125 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles, 90012
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, the birthplace of Los Angeles and home to world-famous Olvera Street, is presenting a family-friendly Cinco de Mayo weekend celebration. Highlights include a theatrical performance of “The Real Cinco de Mayo: Made in California” with special guests Ballet Folklorico Flor de Mayo and Santa Monica College Global Motion World, Conjunto Tenocelomeh, mariachis, and children’s activities. Free admission.
445 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, 90071
Border Grill, the colorful modern cantina in Downtown L.A., is featuring a special Cinco de Mayo menu. Available from 11am-10pm, the menu features $3.50 tacos, including alambre (ribeye), carnitas, fish, rajas; $5 bites such as mini brisket torta, queso fundido, campechana, veggie mulitas; and $5 beers & Margaritas. A local DJ will set the festive mood on the patio.
Rosa Mexicano L.A. LIVE
800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, 90015
Celebrate Three Days of Cinco at Rosa Mexicano L.A. LIVE, which is featuring a Cinco de Mayo brunch and a la carte specials in the bar and dining room. Available 11:30am – 3pm, brunch menu highlights include Huevos Rosa, Huevos Josefina, Tacos de Huevos, Mexico City Chilaquiles, Churros French Toast, and Carne Asada con Chilaquiles. A la carte specials include Chuletas de Cerdo (grilled pork chop) and Pollo a la Coca-Cola (Mexican Coca-Cola braised half chicken).
Fiesta at the Cantina bar with the signature Guacamole en Molcajete, Three Feet of Bocadillos (Mexican snacks on a board with salsa norteña), Three Feet of Tacos (three of each on a board with pasilla de Oaxaca and fresh lime) and specialty bottled Jala-Piña Margaritas.
107 E. 6th St., Los Angeles, 90014
Celebrate Cinco De Mayo all day at Las Perlas in Downtown L.A. with a special menu, which will be served from 11am until the bar closes. Enjoy draft cocktails featuring Sino Tequila and El Silencio Mezcal for $11, or get a shot and a can of Tecate for a similar price. Beyond the spirits, guests can enjoy live music performed by Spaghetti Cumbia from noon to 4pm and buy an event t-shirt for $20.
Journey Through the Cuisines of Mexico – Million Dollar Theatre
307 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, 90013
Part of the L.A. Times Food Bowl, Journey Through the Cuisines of Mexico features James Beard Award-winning author Diana Kennedy, who will reflect on a life dedicated to the vibrant cuisines of Mexico at an event that will also feature show footage from the upcoming documentary “Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy.” Taking place at the historic Million Dollar Theatre, the event will also include Carlos Salgado (Taco María), Gabriela Cámara (Contramar, Cala) and Bricia Lopez (Guelaguetza). Ticketholders can visit Grand Central Market to sample dishes from Mexican restaurants Ana Maria Mexican Food, La Tostadería, Tacos Tumbras a Tomas and Villa Moreliana. Tickets are priced at $15 and are now on sale at Eventbrite.
Cinco de Mayan Gigante – Mayan Theatre
1038 S. Hill St., Los Angeles, 90015
On Friday and Saturday, May 4-5, Lucha VaVOOMpresents “Cinco de Mayan Gigante” at the historic Mayan Theatre in Downtown L.A., featuring a raucous mix of Mexican masked wrestling, burlesque, and comedy. Besides the action-packed wrestling, Lucha VaVOOM also features Aztec dancers, folkloricos, lowriders, mariachis and plenty of tequila. Color commentary is handled by top comedians. Tickets are for General Admission – no ringside seating. Doors at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. 21 and over.
Session de Mayo – Arts District Brewing
828 Traction Ave., Los Angeles, 90013
Starting at noon, Arts District Brewing is celebrating “Session de Mayo” with a special tap takeover, featuring low ABV beers all day. Pair your beers with Mezcal El Silencio shots or upgrade to a Michelada. Be sure to come hungry, nachos will be available all day.
“The Biggest Margarita in Los Feliz” – BIG BAR
1929 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, 90027
Los Feliz favorite, Big Bar is living up to its name and going big on Cinco de Mayo. And by “big” we’re talking about “The Biggest Margarita in Los Feliz” – guests are invited to help finish a gargantuan Margarita made with El Silencio Mezcal, lime, agave and served (in human-sized portions) with an optional salt rim. Plus there’s classic Margaritas all weekend long during the popular brunch.
Pop-Up Margarita Garden Party – Gracias Madre
8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood 90069
Boasting one of the most beautiful patios in L.A. along with its plant-based Mexican cuisine, Gracias Madre is hosting a Pop-up Margarita Garden Party to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Taking place from noon to 10pm, the Garden Party features Purista Margaritas, Smokey Margaritas with Mezcal El Silencio, Palomas & Shots with Casamigos Tequila Reposado, Blonde Ale & IPA from Baja Brewing Company, Summer Water Rosé, and Just Water. And of course, Gracias Madre’s signature Jackfruit Carnitas Street Tacos and Coliflor Frito Street Tacos. No cover, 21 and over.
(Discover Los Angeles contributed)