Cinco de Mayo may be an annual excuse for parties with tequila shots and oversize sombreros, but it’s also a night to sample Mexican cuisine and fancy cocktails, network with Latino professionals over a mariachi band, listen to great Latin jazz and learn salsa steps. And, hey, if you want to get your picture taken with a sombrero-wearing donkey, you can do that, too.
One night is apparently not enough at Ceiba, which is celebrating Cinco de Mayo through Thursday. The house menu -- available from 3 p.m. to close on Tuesday and Wednesday and from 2:30 p.m. to close on Thursday -- includes $5 house margaritas and $5 tacos al pastor, chicken enchiladas and a Yucatan shrimp ceviche cocktail. Deals are available only in the bar and lounge areas.
If you’d rather do a little networking instead of just downing tequila shots all night -- and, hey, this is Washington -- RSVP for the 10th annual LatinVIP.com Cinco de Mayo happy hour, which is sponsored by the Hispanic Bar Association, the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, the Hispanic Lobbyist Association and other professional groups. Just don’t expect a bunch of suits standing around on Eden’s rooftop deck handing out business cards: The night includes a mariachi band, free food from 5 to 7 p.m. and discounted Dos Equis and Ambhar tequila drinks. Admission is free with an RSVP to email@example.com.
Masa 14 is home to an extensive tequila list, and its menu boasts several margarita variations. On Cinco de Mayo, traditional and flavored margaritas -- strawberry, peach, pina colada, mango -- cost $5 all night.
Down the block, Masa 14’s sister bar El Centro D.F. makes its debut on Thursday. Check out the tequila bar, dining room and rooftop deck at its grand opening. The $20 cover charge includes unlimited passed hors d’oeuvres, but not drinks -- four of the margaritas and Mexican-inspired cocktails will be available at a cash bar.
The Duende Quartet may be local, but the four-man group has spread the gospel of Latin jazz from the Philippines to Albania on multiple tours sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the State Department. On Cinco de Mayo, hear the bass/piano/percussion combo perform its versions of Duke Ellington’s “African Flower,” Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue” and Cuban-influenced jazz pieces.
One of the area’s finest places to step out to Latin rhythms is the Salsa Room (formerly Cecilia’s). The Cinco de Mayo party features 45-minute salsa lessons (beginners at 8 p.m.; more experienced dancers at 8:45) before DJ Hercules spins salsa and bachata music all night.
Anyone who has been to Tijuana might be familiar with Town Tavern’s annual Cinco de Mayo marketing gimmick: Customers can take photos with a donkey wearing a sombrero between 7 and 10 p.m. on the patio (just don’t try to touch the animal on the threat of being tossed out). If you post the photo on Town Tavern’s Facebook page, you could win a free group happy hour. Inside, it’s easy to see why organizers dub the party Cinco de Mayo Mayhem: All-day deals include $3 Coronas and tequila sunrise cocktails and $5 tequila shots and baskets of tacos. RSVP on the bar’s Web site for a $10 open bar from 8 to 10 p.m. Plan to call in sick the next day.
Many parties will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with mariachis and salsa. Not at Little Miss Whiskey’s, though, where DJs D-Mac and Thomas Blondet are promising a night of modern styles, including moombahton, tropical bass, Latin house and digital cumbia. Admission is free.
The bar’s annual fiesta begins later than others -- the fun starts at 8 -- but it’s hard to beat the deals, including $3 Coronas, $4 Jose Cuervo shots and $5 margaritas. Email VIP@BlackFinnDC.com to get on the list for free admission.
The annual celebration at Clarendon Grill features DJs Pat Premier and 2Nutz, known across Clarendon and Dewey for their floor-filling jams.