The Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla during the French-Mexican war.
Though not Mexican Independence day (as commonly thought) it has taken on major significance in the United States and been adopted into the pantheon of holidays with a real party spirit. Let’s face it, who can resist the triple threat of mole, margaritas and Mariachi? FFT spoke to three venues that are preparing to celebrate in style.
Gonzo's Mexican Grill, West Hempstead
Joseph Gonzalez is a character and he knows it. He opened Gonzo’s eight years ago because “a fish told me to do it” and never looked back. Serving his branded mix of Mexican favorites infused with American accents (though not Tex/Mex) he is most proud of his Buffalo Burrito, a savvy blend of rice, blue cheese, mozzarella and breaded chicken tossed in his special “gonzo sauce.” All his sauces, including pico de gallo (salsa), are homemade. His Cinco de Mayo party will actually be held the following day at the Plattduetsche Restaurant in Franklin Square. “Only Gonzo’s can have a Cinco de Mayo party the day after at a German restaurant!” says Gonzalez. The reason is he needs the space - last year 2,000 people showed up. Sponsored by Dos Equis, the family-friendly party starts at 6 p.m. and features two bands, including a Mariachi. Admission is $7.
South of the Border, Levittown
South of the Border serves “very authentic” Mexican dishes says manager Maria Bablis. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, mole poblano and tamales are just part of the menu. She says they are known for fajitas and their margarita chicken and shrimp. She adds that everything is made fresh daily and never frozen. On Cinco de Mayo the small restaurant (20 tables) will be mobbed from about 5 p.m. on so arrive early for seat and make sure you try the homemade sangria.
Cabo, Rockville Centre
Cabo serves authentic Mexican favorites, Tex-Mex and dishes geared towards American palates says manger Mike Contessa. He considers their alambre (six types of skewers) Cabo’s most authentic Mexican offering. It is no surprise that Cinco de Mayo is their “busiest day of the year” and the party will start in the afternoon. Featuring a full menu, specials, a DJ plus a band, the celebration will probably spill over into their back parking lot—properly decorated for the occasion of course.
Easy Traditional Salsa from Executive Chef Jorge Sierra of the Velas Vallarta Resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
½ large Onion
4 tsp Cilantro
2 Serrano Chiles
1 oz Olive Oil
1 oz Lime juice
Ground Black Pepper
Preparation: dice the tomatoes, onions, cilantro and chiles. Mix with the olive oil and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.