The big Cinco de Mayo party at Civic Center Park — celebrating its thirtieth anniversary — is actually on May 6 and 7 this year (from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days), so if Chihuahua races make you giggle, join the thousands of other Denverites commemorating the day downtown. But if you'd prefer a smaller party, here are nine other great options in town for celebrating with Mexican — or at least Mexican-inspired — food, booze and culture.
Blue Bonnet Mexican Cafe
457 South Broadway
The Blue Bonnet is one of Denver's oldest Mexican restaurants and was founded in the 1930s before being purchased by the Mobell family in the 1960s. The Mobell kids still run the place, and they invite you in for Cinco de Mayo festivities, with the bar expanded to the outdoor patio for a fiesta in the sun. Drinks will be discounted from open to close on both Friday and Saturday, in addition to happy-hour food from 3 to 6 p.m.
Centro Mexican Kitchen
950 Pearl Street, Boulder
The pig will be slowly sizzling at Centro, when the Boulder cantina does Cinco de Mayo from 11 a.m. through 11 p.m., with lunch, dinner and in-between happy-hour specials. Once roasted, the pork will be served in tacos with heaping sides of borracho beans and grilled street corn. There will also be $5 Suerte coin-style margaritas (while supplies last), $7 beer-and-shot combos of El Charro silver tequila and the Post's Top Rope Mexican Style Lager), and $15 Top Rope Buckets. Call the restaurant for more info and to make reservations.
3495 South Downing Street, Englewood
Cochino will be doing Cinco de Mayo in the suburbs all weekend with sponsor Arta Tequila. Drink specials will include $3 Negra Modelos and Pacíficos, $4 Arta blanco shots infused with mango, $5 tequila cocktails and $8 for a shot and a beer. Come in from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday to meet the Arta shot girls; all this week during regular lunch and dinner hours, register for a raffle for a helicopter tour of Denver in the Arta Tequila helicopter, piloted by Arta owner Tony Mayer, with the purchase of any Arta cocktail. Then head back on Sunday for hangover brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to see if you won (you must be present on Sunday to win; the drawing is at 2).
La Loma celebrates Mexican-American culture with fun and specials all day Friday. Get a giant Mexican Flag Margarita — a multi-layered frozen concoction with bands of strawberry, the house margarita, and Midori melon liqueur — for $16. Hit the outdoor Arta Tequila photo booth from 4 to 8 p.m. and enter a raffle for a trip around Denver in Arta’s helicopter (if you're really lucky, you could hit Cochino and win the trip twice). And from 5 to 7 p.m., enter a raffle for a chance to win a Patron XO Snowboard. While you're there, check in on Facebook between 7 and 9 p.m. to receive an $8 Arta Cadillac Margarita.
Lola Coastal Mexican
1575 Boulder Street
Like its sibling Centro in Boulder, Lola is firing up the whole hog with its ninth annual Picnic of the Pig. Lola’s own chefs, Jamey Fader and Sharif Villa Cruz, will collaborate with five other Denver chefs on a menu that celebrates all things swine. Head over at 2 p.m. for happy-hour food and drink prices — think $5 coin-style margs, $3 Post Top Rope Mexican Lagers, and $5 Palomas — and stick around for live music by GAMB at 3 p.m. and Sixty Minute Men at 9 p.m. The guest chefs this year will be Brandon Foster (Project Angel Heart), Amos Watts (Old Major), Kevin Grossi (The Regional), Michael Nirenberg (The Post Rosedale) and Sam Pepper (Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar LoDo). Call the restaurant for more information and to make reservations.
Keep reading for more Cinco de Mayo fiestas...
Que Bueno Suerte!
1518 South Pearl Street
Que Bueno Suerte! is known for its upscale, eclectic and modern Mexican cuisine, but for Cinco de Mayo, the restaurant is rolling out the tacos, tequila and beer. Start with a beer and a shot for $5, then tack on two tacos for another $5. One of the best bets is the barbacoa de borrego: guajillo pepper-steamed lamb neck and cheek topped with radish-cilantro-onion salad. Call the restaurant for reservations.
4400 Fox Street
TheBigWonderful — a street food and flea market experience — returns to Denver in a new location for a three-day weekend kicking off with a Cinco de Mayo celebration sponsored by Modelo beer. Head over for a cerveza happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m., then stick around for live music and a night bazaar. Tickets for the entire weekend of events can be purchased on TheBigWonderful's website.
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And here are two on Saturday, May 6, in case you didn't get enough on the real Cinco de Mayo...
Little Machine Beer
2924 West 20th Avenue
Little Machine is located just a few doors from Federal Boulevard, one of Denver's prime spots for watching Cinco de Mayo street action. Join the brewery for its Skate-O de Mayo party with beer, food and music from King Rat. But don't go on May 5: This party gets going on the afternoon of Saturday, May 6. Mexican-style beers will be pouring, with the return of Sir Veza Mexican-Style Lager and the release of a Southwestern-inspired saison brewed in collaboration with Black Fox Beer Co. There will also be plenty of skating hosted by Grindwheel, Pusher BMX shop and 7Twenty Skate Shop. The music starts at 6 p.m., and there will also be limited-edition T-shirts being screenprinted on site by Dizzie inK. This is a rain-or-shine event, so there will be tents in case of bad weather.
Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
1215 20th Street
There's nothing particularly Mexican about Ophelia's — until El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, hits the stage. According to the singer's own bio, El Vez is like "Cesar Chavez fronting a punk-rock band, Liberace teaching Chicano Studies, Tom Jones singing about the Virgen de Guadalupe," all rolled into one glorious performance. The show starts at 9 p.m., so get there early for dinner and then settle in for some crooning from the King — or in this case, El Rey. Tickets can be purchased on the Ophelia's website.