Cinco de Mayo salutes the Mexican army’s improbable victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, and has become a global festivity. In the US, it’s the day everyone becomes Mexican much like our Irish transformation on March 17. Say “Si” to a grande Cinco de Mayo night at any of these Chicago suggestions.

(Photo Credit: Barbakoa's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Barbakoa’s Facebook)

1341 Butterfield Road
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 852-2333

The restaurant and bar, known for its wide variety of tacos (Peking Duck or falafel anyone?) and tequilas, features delicioso Latin dishes from Chef Dudley Nieto, who hails from Puebla, Mexico. Expect wildly colorful cocktails crafted by mixologist Adam Seger and a five-day celebration for the holiday from May 1-5, including: $33 Prix Fixe Menu offered every day; $39 Margarita pitchers every day (minimum of two people and it’s the only time Barbakoa offers its hand-crafted margaritas in a pitcher size); music and dancing from 6-10pm on Saturday, May 2; a pig roast and live music from 6-9pm on Tuesday, May 5. Ole!

ROCKS North Center
4138 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 857-1793

So, no, it’s not a Mexican place, however, you can snag $2 tacos (available after 4 p.m.) and chose among the huge list of craft brews and draft/bottled imported beers (beyond Corona and Bohemia) on Cinco de Mayo. Try a pork number with Chipotle barbecue pulled pork topped with a sweet Habanero slaw, queso fresco and cilantro or one or more signature fish tacos. The massive L-shaped patio with muchos outdoor seating will make for a caliente Cinco.

(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

151 E. Upper Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 565-1234

It’s the farthest away from a Mexican joint as one can get in terms of ambiance, however, if you don’t need sombreros on the wall that eventually land on your head, but you do enjoy a ‘rita, try the sleek, modern BIG Bar in the Hyatt (the largest Hyatt on the planet). Everything is “grande” here from the expansive Chicago city views to the vast selection of ginormous cocktails at North America’s longest freestanding bar. One drink can make more than a couple friends a little loco. There’s the Oak Street Beach ($13-$38 depending upon size); the fruity La Villita Crush ($15-$38) and the mighty Top of the Tower, $45 worth of “very big Patron Silver, Contreau, lime topped with your choice of: Grand Mariner, Midori, Disaronno, Chambord.”

Related:  Best Cocktail Happy Hours In Chicago

Las Palmas
1835 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 289-4991

There are hundreds of Mexican restaurants and bars in the city – where do you begin? Las Palmas is a sure bet when it comes to interesting Mexican fare (roasted Habanero salsa; pan-seared lump crab cake; roasted acorn squash stuffed with saffron risotto; and delicious Cochinita Pibil – braised pork shoulder) and a list of distinctive drinks. Sip a spicy pineapple Margarita or an El Vato Loco with El Buho Mezcal, lime, egg white, house syrup, and bitters among the large lot of adult and non-alcoholic beverages. Outdoor garden patio is the squeeze of lime on your perfect Cinco de Mayo.

Related: 2014’s Best New Cocktail Bars In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at