May 4th, 2010
Cinco de Mayo: A Loopster “How To” Guide
Rapidly gaining in popularity, Cinco de Mayo (not to be confused with Guy Fawkes Day) is the southern equivalent of St. Patrick’s Day. Instead of celebrating the man who rid a country of snakes (which may or may not have happened) it’s focus is the Battle of Puebla. That’s right, it’s not the independence of Mexico, just a victory over the French. I guess that means Germany should have a drinking holiday every day. Long story short, it’s a bunch of uneducated white folks celebrating their defeat by drinking a Corona. Instead of “kiss me, I’m Irish,” I have it on good authority that celebrants will be seen wearing shirts that say “You want a Dirty Sanchez?”
We, of The Loop Scoop, love a good celebration of nationality. They are each an occasion to reinvent ourselves in less-than-native ways. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. On Cinco de Mayo, we’ve all got a little Mexican in us. On Arbor Day, we’re all decendants of trees. It makes sense, right?
In our estimation, Cinco de Mayo is even more fun than St. Patrick’s Day or Canadian Thanksgiving. Why? Because they know how to party south of the border. You know what that means… Tequila shots!
Here’s how you do it:
1) Dress Up? - Sombrero. Poncho. Huipil. Sarape. ZARAPE! Do it up, Houston. Just leave the fake mustaches at home for the kids’ sakes. Nobody needs to see that.
2) Holy Frijole! Eat! – Unless you’re a corned beef and cabbage fan (which I happen to be), St. Patrick’s Day offers few food options. Not so with the 5th of May. Get your butt in a seat and your favorite taqueria. Eat a sopapilla or two. Flautas are calling your name.
3) Arriba! Abajo! Al Centro! Adentro! – Forget all those bad experiences you’ve had with that whimsical mistress, Tequila. She will be good to you tonight. She’ll comfort you in her embrace. She promises to put you to sleep. And though she won’t be there on Thursday morning to cuddle, you’ll remember her for at least the next 24 hours.
4) Spanglish – Besides being a beautiful movie (I think all the men in the room can agree that Paz Vega is downright gorgeous), it provides a good lesson for us on Cinco de Mayo: There are no language barriers. Living in Houston you’ve been exposed to your fair share of Spanish. Try it on for size. When in doubt there’s one phrase you’re going to want to remember: “Mas cerveza, por favor.”
Are your friends cheap asses who always put drinks on your tab when you’re not paying attention or after you pass out in the bathroom and chip your tooth on the toilet? If you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a bunch of cheap asses, then make Taco Milagro your destination. It’s great for large groups since you order and pay at the counter. No splitting checks. They’ll even give you a little buzzer thing that you can take to the table to let you know when your food is ready. If you’re really cool, you can pretend that it’s a phone and someone is calling you to let you know your food is ready. I prefer to just keep it on your lap. It’s such a wonderful surprise when my food is ready. The food is actually pretty good for an order at the counter place, but the portions are quite small, so make sure that you order enough food to soak up all of the tequila shots. Steer clear of the margarita’s, they are downright awful.
El Patio (Club No Minor)
If your idea of a celebration is total inebriation, then El Patio is your destination. They swear that they don’t use Everclear, but the blue margaritas definitely pack a punch. After two or three, you’ll think you can speak spanish if you don’t and you’ll forget how to if you do. They do Cinco de Mayo up right and you’ll definitely find a crowd at either the original Westheimer location or the new(er) Midtown spot.
Since Cinco de Mayo is on a Wednesday this year, it might be the best idea to go get all borracho’d. Sometimes you’ve got to say “no” to that last Patron shot so you can get up and make it to work the next morning. Ah, who are we kidding, we never say no. If you’re looking for something a little more civilized, try Cyclone Anayas for dinner. The entrees (PDF) offer a nice combination of House Specialties and Tex Mex Favorites. I always order the mixed grill so that I can have a taste of everything. With a modern design, the restaurant provides a sense of ambiance that you typically don’t find at Mexican restaurants, so you’ll feel more sophisticated and mature while throwing back the tequila shots, which might help you stop before you hit the floor. Yeah, it doesn’t work for me, either, but I figure it’s worth a shot. They have three Houston locations. We won’t hold it against them that they have two locations in that hell-hole known as Dallas.
I’m not really sure what the “underground” scene is when it comes to Mexican restaurants, but if there was/is one, Chapultepec would be a part of it. It’s the kind of place of which urban legends are made. If for only underage college student lore, Chapultepec will live on forever. Not that I was ever in that crowd (note: I really wasn’t, but I lived vicariously through my braver friends). The massive margaritas at Chapultepec will be the perfect way to ring in the Battle of Puebla. Down with champagne, up with tequila! Take advantage of a Pacifico or five. Just make sure the cabbie is on stand-by because that’s the last thing you’ll be doing: standing.
Let’s say you want to take advantage of the holiday, but you don’t really want to go to one of those cliche, south of the border-themed, hot-spots to celebrate. Take a swing (or a swig, in this case) at the Loopster favorite, Beaver’s. Straight from a trusted source I heard the Ice House will be the place to be for some non-Cinco de Mayo celebrating. As always, they will be serving their Dam Good Cocktails along with their famed barbecue. With enough Mexican influenced drinks on the menu, you’ll be sure to get the taste for the 5th without having to deal with a bunch of inappropriately sombrero’d folks.