Just because Cinco de Mayo has evolved into an Americanized celebration doesn't mean it can't be fun. Remembered originally for the Mexico army's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War, the American rendition of May 5 typically involves parties with Corona and Dos Equis, plenty of tequila and affordable tacos.
Here's what's planned for the Buffalo area on Cinco de Mayo:
1) Deep South Taco's Cinco de Mayo Street Fiesta, noon to 10 p.m. at Ellicott Street between Broadway and East Mohawk. Pre-sale tickets are two for $15, four for $28, with VIP tickets for $35 online only. Cost of entrance at the gate is $10. 21+
Commentary: If Deep South Taco's 2016 street party is any indication, the closed-off stretch of Ellicott Street will welcome a lively party on Friday. West of the Mark and Strictly Hip will take the stage, margaritas, beer, tacos and nachos will be available outside, luchadores (
slightly creepy Mexican wrestlers) will tangle and a 50/50 will benefit Meals on Wheels.
The VIP passes permit prime viewing of the stage, a private bar and a commemorative cup with one free fill.
2) Casa Azul's Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, noon to midnight at 128 Genesee St. No cover, and select cocktails are $5 along with a food menu of $5 offerings.
Commentary: The biggest perk of new Mexican taco restaurant Casa Azul's party is its family-style Taco Feast, for a minimum of six people at $16 a head. The special includes enough for five tacos for each person, split into al pastor, chicken, Calabaza (winter squash), potato and poblano, and fish. The dining group will also receive a smorgasbord of toppings, plus chips and salsa. The tacos are colorful!
3) DBGB's Cinco de Drinko, 4 p.m. at 253 Allen St. Free to attend, with free tacos as well.
Commentary: If there's a swing away from the wet weather anticipated for Cinco de Mayo, then the opening of Duke's secluded patio bar for the season should pull revelers toward Allentown.
If it does rain, the festivities will continue inside with an abundance of free tacos, specials on Dos Equis and Peligroso Silver tequila, plus music from DJ Jowel, Charlie the Butcher and the Incredible Scott Down. Yes, that said "free tacos," and yes, he spelled "jowl" wrong.
4) EXPO Market's Cinco de Mayo, 4 p.m. to midnight at 617 Main St. Free to attend with several drink specials.
Commentary: Don't feel resigned to sitting around or standing in a big crowd - EXPO Market hosts its bimonthly Salsa Night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., which conveniently falls on Cinco de Mayo. It's best not to go too hard on the tacos beforehand, given the twisting and high levels of passion.
Giveaways from Breezy Burrito, one of the market's newest vendors, and Latin-inspired drink specials from GBGB are further highlights.
5) Cinco de Cycle, 6 to 9 p.m. in the Atrium at 500 Seneca St. Cost is $10, which supports GObike Buffalo. Those interested are asked to RSVP here.
Commentary: A tandem presentation by the Buffalo chapter of Yelp and GObike Buffalo, Cinco de Cycle embraces creative food and sustainable transportation. The bites are quirky: a "Phoritto" is a pho-inspired burrito (I have no idea), while Smoothies in Motion blends together Bootleg Bucha's kombucha concoctions with housemade ice cream by Poutine & Cream for a remarkably local float.
On the bike side, GObike will host a handful of relaxed workshops, instructing how to fix a flat tire and informing about the growing bike culture in Buffalo.
6) Nietzsche's Cinco de Mayo, featuring Groove Jambalaya, 10 p.m. at 248 Allen St. Tickets are $7 cash at the door.
Commentary: A hearty pat on the back to whoever came up with the name Groove Jambalaya; the debuting 11-piece band rolls deep with two sax players and three percussionists, plus enough guitars, keyboards and vocals to feel sympathy for the sound guy.
Vin DeRosa's Vitamin D3 and Max Moscato are listed as the openers.
7) Coyote Cafe's Cinco de Mayo, 3 p.m. at 36 Main St., Hamburg. Free to attend.
Commentary: Hamburg's influx of trendy restaurants like Carte Blanche and Grange Community Kitchen doesn't mean you should forget about trusty Coyote Cafe.
Local hard rock band Widow Maker takes over the outdoor stage at 6:30 p.m., while the restaurant's variety of margaritas - including jalapeno and blood orange - is adventurous.
8) Gypsy Parlor's Cinco de Mayo, 5 p.m. at 376 Grant St. Free to attend, with free tacos starting at 10 p.m.
Commentary: More free tacos will be available at the West Side bar-restaurant, where DJ Basha will spin and specials of $2 Coronitas and $2 tequila shots could make your night spin in a hurry if you're not careful.
9) Pasion, Don Tequila, Agave and La Divina collaborate on Cinco de Mayo Tropical, 4 p.m. at 153 Elmwood Ave. Free to attend.
Commentary: Just a few days after news broke that Don Tequila would reopen to the public at 11 a.m. May 11, the Mexican restaurant will combine forces with Sergio Mucino's line of local eateries - Agave and La Divina - plus host Pasion, a Cuban restaurant owned by Mucino's wife Yeslin Greason.
The spacious patio will bustle with live music from the Steve Balesteri Band and DJs Christian Martinez and Alex Sarabia, while $3 La Divina tacos, $7 frozen margaritas and six 24-ounce cans of Corona for $25 form the drink specials.
10) Boys of Summer at Armor Inn's Cinco de Mayo party, 9 p.m. at 5381 Abbott Road, Hamburg. Free to attend, with ample drink specials.
Commentary: Seasoned cover band Boys of Summer will show off its versatile catalogue beginning at 9 p.m., while Armor Inn's patio and patio bar will open for the season - if the rain holds off.
Regardless, specials on Corona, Coronitas, Dos Equis and Modelo should quench your thirst for generic Mexican beer.
11) Cinco de Mayo (716) at Milkie's on Elmwood, 9 p.m. at 522 Elmwood Ave. Cover is $10 at the door.
Commentary: Every holiday needs an electronic dance music party, it seems, so Milkie's hosts one for Cinco de Mayo. Seven DJs will play hourlong sets, while attendees receive a free taco at the door as long as supplies last.
The Kandi Kraft Table - where personalized beaded bracelets are created - is an intriguing addition to the event and provides a good opportunity to meet people.
12) Cinco de Mayo at VENU, 10 p.m. at 75 W. Chippewa St. Tickets are $15 at the door for those who arrive before 11 p.m. and are on the guest list (by texting venuniversity to 31996). Cost will be $20 otherwise. Event is 18+.
Commentary: If you're looking for pseudo-celebrity star power, combustible MTV personality Farrah Abraham - formerly of "Teen Mom 2" - will host VENU's party that seeks to attract college students.
Cryo jets, a LED-laden dance floor and a red carpet photo op lend visual appeal, while two full bars will be open for the 21+ crowd. There does not appear to any connection to Cinco de Mayo, however, unless Abraham wears her Luchadore outfit.
13) Buffalo's Biggest Mexican Fiesta, 11 a.m. at Papi Grande's (4276 Maple Road, Amherst). Free to attend.
Commentary: For those eager to stick around the Northtowns, Papi Grande's offers a simple Cinco de Mayo party with cheap Mexican beer and live music from Jimmy Buffett cover band Gimme Buffett. The kitchen will remain open until midnight, in case you're engaged in a vicious taco-eating contest.
14) Thin Man's Cinco de Mayo All-You-Can-Eat Taco Party, 5 to 9 p.m. at 492 Elmwood Ave. The unlimited taco bar, plus two house beers, runs for $23 and can be purchased on-site.
Commentary: In the same vein as Casa Azul, Thin Man offers a Cinco de Mayo food special for big eaters. Chef Bruce Wieszala - who helped the Elmwood brewery-restaurant to an impressive eight plates - has set a high standard for his kitchen, which suggests these could be top-notch tacos.
The deal comes with two house beers, too, from a list that has grown rapidly since brewmaster Rudy Watkins started production.
15) Don Juan's Cinco de Mayo, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 484 Harlem Road, West Seneca. Free to attend.
Commentary: The West Seneca location of Don Juan's splits simply into three zones - the dining area with expanded seating, a beer tent and a margarita lounge. There's no need to over-complicate Cinco de Mayo.