Cinco To Go or Why I Won’t Hate on Cinco de Mayo This Year

I normally *NEVER* celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Just like I avoid any place Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, you’re not going to find me anywhere near a Mexican restaurant on the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. Too crowded. Too many drunk people. Also, the holiday celebrates a 1862 military victory of the Mexican army… over the French forces of Napoleon III. Why would I want to celebrate a French defeat AND have a nasty tequila induced hangover the next day??

But things are a little different this year. OK. Things are a lot different right now 😉 So I am going to use Cinco de Mayo as an opportunity/excuse to support a local Mexican restaurant or two. I got the idea when I saw this promoted tweet from the tequila brand Jose Cuervo.

The tweet is pretty misleading and Jose is not actually picking up everyone’s tab. But through a #CincoToGo contest, Jose Cuervo is encouraging everyone to stay home (duh!) and order take-out food from their favorite local Mexican restaurant (ie probably not Chipotle!). You then snap a picture of your receipt (hopefully of the food too!), tag #CincoToGo and #CuervoContest, and tweet the picture to @JoseCuervo. Some 250 people will “win” and get their meals reimbursed though the idea that appeals to me is that small Mexican restaurants will be the real winners. And since I basically live my life on social now, I’m actually kinda looking forward to doing this and posting about it.

Deciding to participate in the #CincoToGo contest was an easy decision but figuring out which restaurant(s) I’m going to order from is a little bit harder. I live by the Convention Center here in D.C. and I have a lot of great options I can easily walk to (I was never big on delivery apps to start with but after reading this Food & Wine article, I am sticking with pick ups over deliveries!) Here’s what I’m thinking:

CHAIA TACOS

So Cinco de Mayo falls on #TacoTuesday and that’s just too hard to resist! I’m pretty sure the founders of Chaia, Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simmons, are as Mexican as I am but I love their food and their commitment to seasonal ingredients and sustainability. I’m very lucky that the former farmers-market taco stand turned Georgetown fast casual restaurant recently opened a second location very close to me and I’m thinking a braised mushrooms taco and a citrus-roasted beet taco will make the perfect healthy vegetarian lunch.

ps: you can also chose to send Chaia tacos to frontline workers when ordering online.

EL SOL RESTAURANTE AND TEQUILARIA

I love the success story behind this restaurant on 11th Street: Chef Alfredo Solis was born and raised in Mexico City and worked his way up the kitchen ladders in Washington, going from dishwasher to executive chef. He opened El Sol with his sister Jessica in 2014 and it’s my go-to for lengua tacos! (I also adore their pulpo taco and the nopales vegetarian taco!!)

ESPITA

I tend to think of the Shaw restaurant as more of Mezcal bar than anything else, but it does serve really good food too. And for Cinco de Mayo they’re actually offering some special items like a taco-kit for two ($39) or some 32oz cocktails in addition to a limited version of their menu. They are also selling fresh grocery boxes and Mexican wines which I think is more my jam than margaritas…

OYAMEL COCINA MEXICANA

I love Jose Andres’ Penn Quarter Mexican restaurant and I love the work that the Michelin star chef has been doing for hospitality industry workers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, like turning some of his restaurants into community kitchens. Oyamel is offering a limited menu for take-out and delivery right now and I love the idea of giving back to this chef who has been giving so much of himself.

There are obviously A LOT of other Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C. and its suburbs and I’m only listing four that are very close to me and that I am most likely to patronize on Tuesday for #CincoToGo. If I lived closer to Colombia Heights, I would absolutely patronize Anafre (also owned by the Solis siblings) which is SUCH a good restaurant and one that I really hope will re-open once this is all over. I’m also tempting to make it to Nina Mayo (not a typo), Nina May‘s Cinco de Mayo week Mexican alter ego. Check out the Mexican inspired menu here.  

Do you usually celebrate Cinco de Mayo and are you planning on celebrating this year? If you’re thinking of getting take out from a local restaurant, let me know which one … or just tell me what your favorite local Mexican restaurant is! I’m pretty desperate for human interaction, even if it’s just in the comment section of this post !