Cinco de Mayo is known throughout the United States as an excuse to drink. However, in Mexico, the holiday actually commemorates the army’s surprise victory over the battle-hardened French. Las Vegas is more than happy to join the celebration with restaurants and tequila bars up and down the Strip. While the festivities will be relatively tame this year due to the lingering pandemic (and the holiday falling on a Wednesday) there are still plenty of Mexican-themed bars, restaurants and specials to check out.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
The recent opening of Virgin Hotels includes a wave of new drinking and dining spots. Casa Calavera replaces Pink Taco (from when the property was known as the Hard Rock) and is a dramatic improvement. Operated by the Hakkasan Group, the Mexican restaurant has a Day of the Dead theme with skulls and murals featured throughout the dining room. Of course, there will be plenty of tacos and tequila to enjoy on Cinco de Mayo. The Mi Casa Su Casa happy hour runs 3-6 p.m. and includes $7 bites, $20 buckets of beer and 50% off tequila and mezcal cocktails.
A true piece of Baja California’s heritage, the original Hussong’s Cantina in the Mexican town of Ensenada claims to be the birthplace of the Margarita. So you could argue Hussong’s is the best place to get a strong, authentic version of the cocktail. Feel free to try a fun variation. The bartenders mix versions with blackberries, jalapeños and cucumber to enhance the natural flavor of the tequila. The Mangonero is a sweet-and-spicy combination of muddled mangoes, habanero peppers and lime.
Famous for Spring Break parties in Mexico and the Caribbean, Señor Frog’s celebrates a strong fiesta spirit at the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas. Cinco de Mayo is the perfect time to check it out with dancing and beer-chugging contests. Ask for a seat on the outdoor deck overlooking the Strip. Stop by a day earlier for Taco Tuesday and enjoy all-you-can-eat-tacos (chicken, steak, carnitas) with four shots of Partida tequila for $29.99.
The basement-level speakeasy at the Mob Museum is serving special Cadillac Margaritas for $12 between April 28 and May 5 to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The Underground is also offering a limited-edition tequila and mezcal tasting flight for $35 from April 28 to May 31. The samples include Xicaru Reposado Mezcal, Siete Blanco, Espolon Reposado and Maestro Dobel Anejo.
Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville
Featuring three levels of tiki bars, tropical drinks and Jimmy Buffet classics playing loud on the sound system, Margaritaville is a Parrothead’s dream. The centrally located Volcano Bar is named in honor of a tall “volcano” that erupts hourly, spilling margarita mix into two 300-gallon blenders. According to the Flamingo, “a virgin is sacrificed to the blender gods” as part of the ritual.
Formerly known as T&T (Tacos & Tequila), Diablo’s Cantina is putting a fresh spin on its Mexican-inspired cuisine for Cinco de Mayo. The menu by Executive Chef Saul Ortiz takes inspiration from the traditions and flavors of Mexico City. Stop by and try Alambre Tacos (prepared with tender filet mignon) or slow-roasted beef barbacoa enchiladas. If you’re planning a big celebration for Cinco de Mayo, Diablo’s has a private dining room for parties of 10-50 people. Just book well in advance!
The best spot for agave spirits on Fremont Street is Lucky Day, a new bar featuring a rotating collection of tequila and mezcal. Eight different flights give you plenty of opportunity to try unique small-batch selections. The space has lots of charm with an elaborate overhead light fixture that changes color throughout the evening. Otherwise, munch on house-made tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa with a seat on the patio overlooking the party crowds of Fremont East.
Cabo Wabo Cantina
Cabo Wabo has one of the best tequila collections in Las Vegas and a fantastic outdoor patio at the Miracle Mile Shops overlooking the Strip. The restaurant is traditionally a busy spot for Cinco de Mayo, so ask about the latest holiday specials. Of course, there will be plenty of Cabo Wabo tequila (made famous by Sammy Hagar), whether served straight as a shot or part of a Mexican-inspired cocktail.