Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico; in America, it's a major excuse to consume tacos and beer while wearing a goofy sombrero, as if it were Mexican St. Patrick's Day.
Local celebrations are all over the map, from taco-and-tequila specials to chihuahua races. Because Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday, many celebrations will take place on tres de Mayo (May 3) this year.
Celebrations on Tres de Mayo
Because nothing's funnier than tiny dogs running, On Tap Magazine is hosting the third annual Running of Chihuahuas at the Southwest Waterfront from noon to 3 p.m. (If you'd like to enter your pup, read the official rules; a $20 entry fee benefits local animal charities.) Beer and food will be sold on-site, and there's an after-party sponsored by Pacifico Beer at the nearby Cantina Marina.
Nine Clarendon and Ballston bars are participating in the Cinco de Mega-Crawl, which is organized by the folks behind the annual Shamrock Fest. A $15 advance ticket gets food and drink specials at Clarendon Grill, Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill and Mister Days, among other spots, between 4 and 9 p.m. (Pro tip: Use the coupon code "Cinco" on the ticket link to save $10.)
Who makes the best tacos in the D.C. area? A friendly competition on Del Campo's patio called the Bamba Bowl will let attendees sample and vote for tacos from local restaurants, including Oyamel, Casa Oaxaca, Mexicana Bakery and Taco Bamba. The $30 ticket (purchase in advance) includes all food and beer from noon to 3 p.m.
H Street Country Club's annual "cockfighting" tournament is more tame than the name suggests: Two competitors wearing rooster masks and comically large boxing gloves try to knock each other from pedestals; the winner stays on, and the loser heads to the bar for $2 tacos, $2 beers and $5 margaritas. (Fights and specials both run from 4 to 7 p.m.)
Town Tavern gets an early start to Cinco de Mayo celebrations with "Cinco de Mustache." Wear a giant sombrero or a fake moustache for half-off your first drink, and get $5 margaritas and tequila sunrises, $4 Coronas and $3 taco baskets.
Celebrations on Cinco de Mayo
El Rey's taco special for Cinco de Mayo is the 5 Pork Taco, an unholy combination of pork loin, al pastor and carnitas smeared with pork fat mayo and placed in a "shell" made from woven strips of bacon. Just look at the picture. That monster will cost you $5 all day.
Things are getting started early at El Chucho on Cinco de Mayo: The bar will open at 11:30 a.m. with a special menu of breakfast burritos to complement $4.50 draft margaritas, $5.50 frozen margaritas and $3 Tecate tallboys. Want something fancier? After revamping the bar's tequila and mezcal collection, El Chucho is now offering nine different tasting flights, starting at $12.
Sister restaurants Masa 14, Zengo and the 14th Street and Georgetown locations of El Centro D.F. are offering $5 margaritas from 3 p.m. to close. The differences between them are in the food: Masa has a $5 menu of tacos, octopus seviche tostadas, chicken chalupas and mahi mahi quesadillas available at its bar, while the two El Centros are charging $10 for a buffet of tacos, tortas, flautas, empanadas and quesadillas from 5 to 11 p.m. Zengo is giving away chips and salsa and hors d'oeuvres after 3 p.m.
On May 4 and 5, the popular Clarendon tequila-and-tacos joint Fuego offers a special street-food menu prepared by chef Alfredo Solis, a native a Mexico City, plus an all-day happy hour with $5 signature margaritas, cocktails, draft beer and wine.
As if Town Tavern's Saturday moustache-and-sombrero party wasn't enough, the Adams Morgan bar will welcome a serape-wearing donkey back to its patio on Monday night for Cinco de Mayo Mayhem. Post a selfie with the animal on the Town Tavern Facebook page and you could win a group happy hour. Drink specials include $5 margaritas, Coronas and tequila shots all night, and $12 all-you-can-drink margaritas from 5 to 7 p.m., plus $3 taco baskets until 10 p.m.