It wouldn’t be Cinco de Mayo without a great celebration, and you’ll have no trouble finding one in Chicago. Whether you’re looking for authentic Latino cuisine, a great venue to party with the locals, or a long list of specialty drinks, Chicago is the city to be in. With one of the largest Latino populations in the U.S. and unbeatable nightlife, it’s no wonder that the Windy City knows how to do it right! Kick off the weekend with these restaurants, bars, and festivities.
Where to Eat & Drink:
Cactus Bar & Grill – Where it’s always man vs. margarita
404 South Wells St.
Friday, May 4, 11 p.m. – Saturday, May 5, 2 a.m.
With its killer margaritas and outstanding bar grub, Cactus Bar & Grill is a great spot on any weekend of the year. But they are pulling out all the stops for their Cinco de Mayo Festival! The party starts Friday night with even more Mexican-style dishes and sides — spicy quesadillas, mini tostadas, and homemade salsa and guacamole — at special prices. Don’t miss out on their $5 margaritas, $4 Pacifico drafts, and $20 buckets of Corona until 2 a.m. This fiesta will have multiple prizes and giveaways, plus a live DJ to keep the fun going all night long.
Mercadito – For real Mexican cuisine and taste
108 W. Kinzie St.
This year Cinco de Mayo lands on a Saturday — lucky us! Start out your celebration early with Mercadito’s famous Saturday brunch starting at 11:30 a.m. and get treated to three different types of homemade Bloody Mary mixtures, not to mention the spread of authentic Mexican dishes like huevos con carnitas and pan mexicano. Mercadito is serving up tacos all day and a multi-dish sharing menu for $40 after 5 p.m. Evening entertainment includes dancers and DJs that will keep the party going until 3 a.m., and with $12 drink specials, you won’t want to miss out.
Carnivale – Authentic Nuevo Latino cuisine, fresh ingredients, and reasonable prices
702 W. Fulton Market
It’s no wonder they call Carnivale “the spice of life”! Carnivale has a vibrant atmosphere and party persona — a perfect venue for a Cinco de Mayo bash. With a budget-savvy menu to die for and an extensive tequila list, it’s no wonder Chicagoans love celebrating here. Head chef David Dworshak pulls inspiration from South and Central America, the Caribbean, and Spain, just to name a few. Stop by for an award-winning mojito and some mouth-watering Latino flavors.
Where to Party
If you usually refer to this holiday as Cinco de “Drinko,” then you don’t want to miss the Chicago Cinco de Mayo Official Pub Crawl. With 12 bars on the lineup, there’s no doubt you’ll get your fill of margaritas and tequila. Get your tickets early and gain an instant drinking crew that only the city of Chicago can handle. Take part in the celebration with specialty drinks and discounts at each venue.
Looking for More Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Chi-Town?
Check out these crowd pleasers for family-friendly celebrating:
Chicago Cinco de Mayo Festival
Douglas Park – 1401 S. Sacramento Ave.
May 4- May 6, 2012
Get ready for a colorful cultural festival packed with live music, south-of-the-border food, and even carnival rides. There is plenty to do and see, so bring the whole family and enjoy the entertainment.
Make sure to be there for the Cinco de Mayo Parade on Sunday, May 6 starting at noon. The route rolls down Cermak Road — right through the heart of Pilsen — starting at Wood and ending on Marshall Boulevard. Show up early to gain a prime spot to view all the excitement.
Cinco de Miler – A 5-mile foot race through the city
Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.
Burn off those burrito calories and help the Chicago Public School System at the same time. Every participant gets a custom 2012 race shirt, and there’s even a live mariachi band playing while the race is on. Get some exercise before taking part in the post-race fiesta with live music and a Mexican brunch. Register here.