OK, so technically it's not Mexico's Independence Day (that's in September), but Cinco de Mayo is no less reason to celebrate. Fiesta the day away at one of these hot spots, offering Mexican-themed deals throughout the day (all events on Wednesday, May 5, unless otherwise noted).
Bull & Bear
Local cover band Jank presides over this Janko de Mayo party featuring $5 shots of Herradura, $6 Jankaritas (aka margaritas with Herradura), $6 yard glasses (signature vodka cocktails with Finlandia) and $7 sangria.
6:30-8:30 p.m.; $25
In honor of the holiday, sommelier Elizabeth Mendez will lead a hands-on class instructing guests in concocting both a classic and a seasonal margarita. In addition to creating and sampling drinks, you'll enjoy appetizers from chef Mark Mendez. If you just want to drink, the restaurant is offering five special margaritas, including a Cavarita ($12.50) and a pomegranate variety ($9.50).
La Casa De Isaac
The Highland Park foodie destination will offer a three-course menu for $32.
Chilam Balam Cocina Mexicana
The Lakeview Mexican restaurant will offer a three-course menu for $32.
Cinco de Mayo Festival (Douglas Park)
April 30-May 3
There will be live music, food, carnival rides and games at this three-day festival in Douglas Park. Make sure to stick around for the parade, stepping off from Cermak and Damen at noon on Sunday.
Cinco de Mayo Festival (Little Village)
Celebrate for three days at this inaugural fest, featuring live music, food, crafts, family activities and more in Little Village, the home of Chicago's largest Mexican population.
Cinco de Mayo Pub Crawl
8-11 p.m.; $15
Take a tour of six Lincoln Park/Lakeview bars, with domestic drafts, margaritas and a Mexican buffet at each stop. You'll be drinking at Duffy's Tavern, Durkin's, Maeve, McGee's, Redmond's and Wrightwood Tap. There will be a trolley to take you from bar to bar.
7 p.m.; $15 (two for $25 in advance)
The Cinco de Mondo event goes all out with Lucha Libre wrestling, burlesque performances from Lola Van Ella, Bella Sue Devianti and Gravity Plays Favorites, live music from the Del Moroccos and The Suspirios and more. Comedian Dash Bravado hosts.
Indulge in a quesadilla burger (with cheese quesadillas instead of the bread, $7), $1 bottles of Miller Lite and Coors Light and $4 Patron shots at this Lakeview bar.
Enjoy $5 specials like shawerma and chicken shawerma wraps all day at this Northwest Side Middle Eastern spot.
Dick's Last Resort
It's a Hot Huevos fiesta at this riverside bar, where you can enjoy a free taco bar from 4-6 p.m., $3 margaritas and $4 Coronas. There will also be a spicy food eating contest at 7 p.m., and music from Noche Caliente beginning at 8 p.m.
Division Ale House
The Ale House celebrates with $5 lime margaritas and $3 Corona bottles.
D.O.C. Wine Bar (Lombard)
The West Suburban wine bar offers a $12 chicken enchilada plate with rice and black beans and margaritas martinis for $5 each.
Get the "Perfect Margarita" at Dos Diablos.
The new River North Mexican spot opens its doors for lunch on Wednesday, offering its full menu featuring fajitas, margaritas and more. Try The Big Mel, a four-pound chimichanga; finish it in under 20 minutes and you'll get your name posted on the wall.
Dunlays on Clark
Drink specials at this Lincoln Park neighborhood restaurant include $4 Pacifico and $3 Cuervo tequila shots, while there will be a few Mexican dishes added to the menu, like guacamole, a skirt steak torta, posole hominy, pork shoulder sopes and more.
Get $3 margaritas and featured food specials like a trio of tacos at this Palatine hangout.
English celebrates with all-day specials like $5 Don Julio shots, $7 Don Julio margaritas and $4 Corona and Dos Equis bottles.
Faith & Whiskey
The Lincoln Park bar's Cinco de Mayo party includes tons of drinks specials, including $1 Cabo Wabo tequila shots and skinny margaritas, $2 Dos Equis and domestic drafts, $3 well cocktails, $3 Accidental Threesome shots, $3 Jim Beam Red Stage shots, $6 40s and $5 Death's Hot Rod cocktails (Death's Door white whiskey, Cointreau and lime juice). Tom Petty/Johnny Cash cover band Petty Cash will perform live at 9 p.m., and the bar will award a 15-person private party to the person with the best "Most Interesting Man in the World" costume (from the Dos Equis commercials) at midnight.
Mariachi Michoacano – an eight-piece live mariachi band – will play live starting at 8 p.m. Drink specials include $6 Pama margaritas, $6 Cazadores tequila maragaritas, $4 Cazadores Blanco, Reposado and Anejo tequila shots. The Wicker Park bar will also award a free private party to the person with the "best mariachi mustache."
Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar
The Lakeview restaurant will offer a Mexican pizza featuring ground beef, cheddar, Monterey Jack cheese, onion, tomato, cilantro and refried beans ($9). Wash it down with $3 bottles of Corona.
Fittingly, this River North hotspot offers five specials for Cinco de Mayo. There will be $10 tacos, $6 guacamole, $5 margaritas, $4 Coronas and $4 Grande Tecate available all day and night.
Munch on free chips and salsa, $3 cheese quesadillas with pico de gallo, salsa & sour cream, and a Cinco De Mayo burger (8-ounce ground beef and chorizo patty topped with Chihuahua cheese, jalapenos, pico de gallo, and salsa) for $5 from 6-8 p.m. All-day drink specials include $4 Cuervo shots, $5 Corona and Corona Light bottles and $6 Patron margaritas.
Both the Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville locations offer up specials. In Lincoln Park, get $4 lime margaritas, $3 Sol and Dos Equis bottles, $4 Sauza shots and $4 Jose Cuervo shots, along with free sombreros. In Wrigleyville, get $6 house margaritas, $5 Sauza shots, $3 domestic drafts, $3 wells drinks, 25 cent wings and $1 select sliders.
Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club
Kit Kat Diva Jade will perform as Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and other Latina musical superstars as you enjoy half-price margaritas at this Boystown club.
LaSalle Power Co.
Q101 (101.1 FM) broadcasts live from 3-7 p.m. and specials include include $5 Cabo Wabo shots and $7 Cabo Wabo margaritas.
Grab $3 Dos Equis and Negra Modelo and $4 Corona and Corona Light at this beloved Bucktown bar, and pair them with half-price guacamole and some smoked chicken quesadillas.
Buy a pitcher of margaritas ($35) and you'll receive a complimentary large chips and guacamole platter on Cinco de Mayo.
Mac's American Pub
All-day Cinco de Mayo pecials include $5 16-ounce Cuervo margaritas, $3 Corona bottles and chicken quesadillas with roasted tomatillo salsa ($6). After 5 p.m., enjoy tacos de pescado: corn tortillas, crispy cod, pico de gallo, avocado and sweet jalapeno mayo ($6).
Mahoney's Pub & Grill
6-9 p.m.; $30
The inaugural Cinco De Rhino event, which benefits the American Association of Zoo Keepers, includes food, drinks, a silent auction and games like "Poacher Pinata" (you can just play on the Wii, too). The purpose? To save critically endangered rhinos and other wild animals.
The River North bar becomes "Martinez Park" for a night, offering $8 Silver Patron cocktails and $4 Coronas. There will also be complimentary quesadillas and nachos from 6-8 p.m. Donate $10 to High Jump at the Latin School and you'll get a free drink.
May St. Cafe
The upscale BYO spot will offer a three-course menu for $32.
Head to this River North Mexican spot to try the Vato Loco, the self-described "hottest cocktail on earth" which contains tequila and...some hot stuff (it's a secret recipe). You'll have to sign a waiver first. The restaurant will also offer a special $40 dinner menu, $5 tequila shots and live mariachi music from 9-10:30 p.m.
Cinco specials include $1 steak or chicken tacos, $3 house margaritas, $3 Coors Light bottles and $4 Jameson Irish Whiskey, Absolut Vodka and Malibu Rum cocktails. Moe's staffers will also hand out free sombreros to revelers.
6-9 p.m.; buy tickets here
Nacional 27 is offering a $27 party package that includes margaritas, sangria, passed tapas/snacks and dancing to the beats of a live percussionist.
April 30-May 5
The North Center bar/restaurant will have a number of drink specials available all week, including $4 Milagro shots and $5 Milagro margaritas, $5 micheladas, $3 horchata ($6 with tequila), $1 off Corona bottles and more. Special food items include zopes, carne asada and caramel flan.
Palmer House Hilton
May 7; $375
The annual Cinco de Mayo Gala, a benefit for the National Museum of Mexican Art, features music from Angel Melendez and the 911 Mambo Orchestra, a silent auction and more.
Both the South Barrington and Northbrook locations of this bocce/bowling/bistro establishment will offer Mexican-themed food and drink specials like $5 margaritas and $5 fajita flatbread.
This Lakeview bar's regular Honky Tonk Wednesday event (featuring free hillbilly bingo and country tunes spun all night) gets an added kick with $1 tacos, $3 Cabo Wabos and $3 Dos Equis. There will also be a taco-eating contest at 9 p.m. (sign up by calling Kevin at (773) 531-2881).
Rock Bottom Brewery
Enjoy Mexican-inspired dishes like quesadilla rolls and smoked chicken enchiladas as well as $5 house margaritas and $4 beer-of-the-day at this River North brewpub.
Rockit Bar & Grill
Both the River North and Wrigleyville locations will serve up Mexican-style cuisine throughout the week, including roasted red pepper and cumin-braised chicken tamales with chive creme fraiche ($8), mushroom fajitas with skirt steak, wild mushrooms, sweet peppers and spanish onions ($18) and cinnamon and sugar churros with cayenne chocolate ($6). Weeklong drink specials include $3 Dos Equis, $6 margaritas and $6 sangria.
Monday, May 3 - Sunday, May 9; $32
The French-Mexican restaurant in Wicker Park offers a three-course prix-fixe menu including choices like pumpkin flower and cream cheese taquitos, chocolate-braised salmon filet and pineapple rice pudding. BYOB.
The Division Street bar is the headquarters for the sixth annual "Cinco Division" party, featuring a performance from Led Zeppelin cover band Kashmir (9 p.m.), $4 bottles of Corona and lots of roaming mariachis all over the area (including at other area bars.
Chef Cary Taylor offers some Mexican-themed specials including Southern Nachos with fried corn chips, smoked pork, black-eyed pea and green tomato pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese sauce and roasted peppers ($8). The restaurant will also offer $6 cocktails like Luis' Dirty Peach (tequila, peach schnapps, mint-infused syrup) and a jalapeno lime margarita.
The River North OTB will offer $5 bottles of Corona and Corona Light and $5 Heineken bottles.
Mexican sushi? Sounds fishy, but it's a reality at this spot on Cinco de Mayo. Choices include the Mexico City Roll (spicy tuna with unagi and avocado, $12), the Sombrero (steamed lobster, spicy mayo, cucumber, jalapeno, tobiko and wasabi tobiko, $10) and the La Bamba (salmon, shiso, jalapeno, melted provolone cheese and shallots, $12).
Festivities will feature a "best moustache" contest, awarding the wearer of the most impressive facial hair a $50 bar tab. There will also be a hot pepper-eating contest and a pinata stuffed with adult prizes. Enjoy $10 33-ounce margaritas, $15 buckets of Corona and Corona Light and a $20 tequila shot buffet. Guests wearing a poncho or sombrero get a free order of chips and salsa.
The post-work bash begins with $5 taco pizza and $3 shots of tequila, and continues, as it should, with the bashing of a pinata. Grab for prizes like tickets for food and drinks, t-shirts and even coupons for parties at the Lincoln Park bar.
The River North Mexican restaurant hosts a party featuring $5 pineapple-lime margaritas and tequila sunrises, giveaways and music spun by a DJ in the evening.