Cinco de Mayo may be cause to celebrate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, but in Las Vegas, it’s reason to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride. And margaritas.
When it comes to Cinco de Mayo, this city knows how to celebrate. Some of the city’s best Mexican restaurants come up with outlandish specials and tantalizing foods to help observe this fun holiday. Here’s a look at the Haute 5 Mexican restaurants and the festivities they have planned for Cinco de Mayo.
This cantina is more than just a Mexican restaurant, it’s Mexican cuisine with a flair. Executive chef Noel Santos picks his recipes from the Mexican countryside at Diego at the MGM Grand. Look for dishes like guacamole served tableside, wood-fire roasted and grilled salsas, pollo al horno con mole, cochinita pibil and carne asada.
The restaurant serves up a special tasting menu for $49 on Cinco de Mayo. The meal starts with sopes de chicken tinga, a dish made with masa boats filled with chipotle chile and tomato-braised chicken with queso anejo and avocado. That’s followed by braised lamb shank stew in red chiles, fresh lime, white onions and cilantro. Next up comes smoked pork tenderloin with a roasted tomato and cascabel chile sauce and braised pork shoulder verde enchiladas. Make sure you save room for flan de cajeta, a goat’s milk caramel flan with crispy cinnamon crepes.
Diego at the MGM Grand, 702.891.3200
Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger from the Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales” serve up environmentally friendly Mexican dishes at this two-story restaurant with views of Mandalay Bay’s pools and beach. They serve only sustainable seafood and organic black beans, chicken, beef and uncured pork raised without hormones and antibiotics.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo there with $10 Casa Noble Paloma, a blend of Casa Noble Blanco, freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime with a salted rim. Or, enjoy the $20 Big Boss “Jefe Grande” margarita as you dance to the sounds of the 12-piece mariachi band from 5 to 7 p.m. As an extra bonus, you get a raffle ticket with every drink purchased for the chance to win great giveaways.
Border Grill at Mandalay Bay, 702.632.7403
This slice of Baja California creates an authentic experience of street fare for diners. Executive chef Noe Alcala starts his dishes with corn tortillas made as they are ordered at Hussong’s Cantina at Mandalay Place. The elote plazero slathers grilled corn with a combination of mayonnaise and butter, smothered in cotija cheese, a genuine treat. The tacos come on homemade corn tortillas in choices such as goat meat, pork or Dorado lobster, perfect for sharing. Try the pescado with white fish with a blue corn crust and creamy white rice with a tropical pineapple salad.
Tomorrow get ready to get decked out at the “World’s Most Interesting Man” contest during the Dos Equis competition from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. If you get dressed up, you get one complimentary Jose Cuervo or Don Julio Tequila specialty cocktail. If you want to be part of the contest, get there around 7 p.m. Or just hang out for the strong original margaritas and the rock ‘n’ roll mariachi band.
Hussong’s Cantina at Mandalay Place, 702.553.0123
This Mexican outpost at the Palazzo serves up chipotle barbecue ribs, chicken tinga tacos and made to order guacamole. The David Rockwell-designed restaurant even has Mexican breakfast dishes like Dos Caminos Rancheros; chilequiles con huevos, a baked tortilla casserole with sunny-side-up eggs; pan torrejas, a Mexican-style French toast with toasted pecan maple syrup and fresh berries and Mexican Benedict.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Dos Caminos with a surprise celebrity host. Mariachis start playing at noon to kick off the party, which will ramp up in the early evening with magicians, models and luchadores to entertain. Bocadito specials such as hamachi tostaditas, crispy rock shrimp tacos, squash blossom rellenos and barbecue pork sopes. Corzo tequila cocktails provide the fuel to keep the party going.
Dos Caminos at the Palazzo, 702.577.9600
In northwest Las Vegas sits this colorful and artistic Mexican spot favored by locals. Soaring ceilings and wrought iron fixtures help give this place the authentic flare of a palapa, a structure found in the tropical resorts of Mexico. More than 80 high-caliber tequilas sit behind the bar. Look for lobster empanadas with pineapple puree, black bean-and-smoked cheddar soup and marinated-goat tacos on the menu.
On Cinco de Mayo, the party starts at 2 p.m. with three live bands, a 4,000-square-foot fiesta tent in the parking lot, $3 Modelo beer drafts and $5 100% Blue Agave margaritas until 2 a.m.
Agave, 10820 W. Charleston Blvd., 702.214.3500