That calls for some thoughtful planning if you want to drink to the holiday, so to speak. Because while Cinco de Mayo is actually a celebration of the Mexican Army's 1862 victory in a battle with the French Empire, it's become known in the U.S. as a celebration of Mexican culture. And one of the most popular examples of both Mexican culture, and a celebration, in our country is the Margarita.
Since our best tips always come from you, we asked what places we should put on our list if we were going to celebrate with a sip on Saturday. And we not only put those spots on the list, we tried them out. Here's why you should too.
First up, Tlaquepaque Mexican Cuisine. Yeah, we weren't sure how to say it either, but our Facebook friends Joy and Gina both said it was one to check out. While sharing a name with a city in Mexico, this Tlaquepaque is located in Wake Forest, with an extremely friendly staff, particularly bartender Danny, who pulled some magic out of his hat (really, he does magic tricks) when he made us his Fresh Skinny Margarita with a Raspberry twist.
A skinny Margarita means the store-bought sour mix is out...and fresh juice is in. In this case, our Margarita included both lemon and lime juice, with a bit of raspberry. The kick came from Patron Silver and Patron Citronge, as well as Grand Marnier. Add a little water and Agave nectar to sweeten it up and you have a fresh and refreshing start to your Tequila tour.
But the Cinco de Mayo celebration doesn't stop there. Tlaquepaque will be in the festive mood from 11am to 11pm on Saturday, serving up free t-shirts, mechanical bull riding, and a bouncy house for kids. Oh, and a karaoke contest, which may require some liquid courage, so make sure you have your Uber or Lyft app ready to book a ride home.
Next up...Xoco Mexican Bar and Grill on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. Pronounced Choke-O (and we only know because we asked), this restaurant is part of the same group as the Hibernian Pub. But trust us when we say, it's totally worth putting the Guinness aside for Xoco's fan favorite drinks.
With Debb giving us the tip, we started with the La Fresca, another skinny Margarita that knocked our socks off, in a good way. This one included fresh squeezed lime, lemon and orange, with a touch of Agave, orange liqueur and silver Tequila. Silver tequila isn't as aged as what is called gold tequila, so it has a stronger flavor and a clear coloring.
It was the Avocado Pain Killer that had us struggling with an assignment where we could only take a sip. With fresh avocado, a spoonful of vanilla ice cream, and a toasted coconut and honey rim, it was hard to distinguish between the drink and a dessert. Except that it also contains Patron XO, which has a natural essence of coffee, as well as silver tequila and a 151 float (that's where a tiny bit of 151 rum floats on top). Oh, and there's a three drink limit. That's a good thing!
Xoco is also making a great day of it, with a block party that kicks off at 11am, with live music, DJ's and flamenco dancers, and runs until 11pm. And, of course, manager Cesar Serrano promises all-day tequila and Margarita specials. A shout-out to Cesar for the 2029 factoid!
Finally, at the advice of Mary Katherine, we hit Gonza's Tacos y Tequila. With five locations throughout the Triangle, you can likely find a Gonza's close to you. We headed to the one on Hillsborough Street across from NC State.
With a collegial atmosphere, we graduated to what they call their Top Shelf Margarita. Made with Sauza Commemorativo Tequila (let's just call it the good stuff) and Triple Sec, they upped the game for foodies with fresh lemon and lime juice that was also organic. There's something ironic about that, but we'll take it.
You can check out what's happening on each Gonza location's Facebook page, but at Gonza's Hillsborough restaurant, the party kicks off at noon, with music, street performers and face painting from 5pm to 10pm. And if you're more into tacos than tequila, Gonza's also has a food truck. You can even reserve it.
However you choose to celebrate, be merry and be safe. We need you around to recommend spots for our next tequila tour.
And if you need help getting home, remember there's always Uber, Lyft, or a local cab company that can get you home.