The annual holiday not celebrating Mexico’s independence (a common misconception) but the victory of a smaller, yet important Mexican battle in 1862, is fast approaching its May 5 date. In the landscape of Long Beach’s vast gastronomic options, selecting a place to enjoy Mexican food and drink for the occasion will be only as difficult as closing your eyes and dropping a finger somewhere on a map of Long Beach.
Now, we’re not telling you not to celebrate the holiday in one of the many venues that offer Mexican fare year-round, like the venerable Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, Agaves Kitchen, Los Compadres, Padre, Tequila Jack’s—all these places (and many more) are great. But since the holiday is somewhat appropriated in the U.S. anyway, we thought, why not celebrate in a locale a little less predictable if you’ve got the inkling?
This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some unusual places to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this Friday for all assortment of party-goers.
FOR FAMILIES WITH KIDS:
Cinco de Mayo Celebration at 2ND & PCH
This free, family-friendly event at outdoor shopping center 2ND & PCH features live mariachi music from Mariachi Garibaldi Juvenil de Jaime Cuellar and dancing performances from the Ballet Folklorico Los Angelitos. The event, which runs from 5-7 p.m. will also feature “fiesta character” meet and greets, free balloon twisting and face painting.
Guests are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs to enjoy the show and children can romp around freely since the performance area, Seaport Way, is closed down to traffic. Click here for more information.
2ND & PCH is at 6400 E. Pacific Coast Highway.
First Fridays in Bixby Knolls
Though not a definitive Cinco de Mayo celebration, the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association’s First Fridays event is leaning into the holiday with a variety of offerings including mariachi music, free Mexican candies, an art walk, a michelada bar, Latin dance workshops and a host of other entertainment from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
First Fridays is a block party of sorts that includes a large swath of businesses and restaurants along Atlantic Avenue in Bixby Knolls. So strolling up and down the street is a great way to check out everything the event has to offer. There is also a Big Red Bus that can shuttle guests, for free, along a specialized route. Click here for more information.
First Fridays takes place in Bixby Knolls along a stretch of Atlantic Avenue. A good place to start is the Expo Arts Center at 4321 Atlantic Ave.
FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY GOING ALL OUT:
Cinco de Mayo Festival at Roxanne’s
The daylong Cinco de Mayo celebration at Roxanne’s bar also coincides with the grand reopening of Marie’s Tek Tec, the outdoor Mesoamerica-themed bar concept located on the patio of Roxanne’s. All this means that in addition to food, tequila and beer specials and live DJ sets playing cumbia, house, hip-hop, and Bad Bunny music all night long, guests will also enjoy a special cleansing ceremony and Aztec dance performance christening the reopening of Marie’s Tek Tec.
Guests will also be able to try out Marie’s Tek Tec’s new cocktail menu featuring tequila, mezcal, rum and other agave-based spirits. Tickets cost $25 and may be purchased online here. Must be 21 or older to participate. The celebration runs from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Roxanne’s bar is at 1115 E. Wardlow Road.
THOSE WHO WANT A RELAXING DINING EXPERIENCE:
Fuego’s Cinco de Mayo Dinner Celebration
Unlike many of the other names on this list, Hotel Maya’s upscale waterfront Latin restaurant, Fuego, celebrates Latin culture year-round. But while the waterfront spot may not come to mind as an out-of-the-box pick, the restaurant is still going the extra mile to celebrate the day, with a special themed menu and soothing live music by the Grammy award-winning mariachi group, Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea.
In addition to Fuego’s standard dinner menu, guests can also opt to try out a variety of street tacos, such as cilantro jalapeño carne asada and tequila lime chicken, plus elotes callejeros, which is roasted corn on the cob with mayonnaise, Cotija cheese, tajin spices and chili sauce. Fuego also has a variety of tequila and mezcal cocktails on its menu. Guests interested in dining at Fuego can make reservations online here. Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea will be performing from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Fuego at Hotel Maya is at 700 Queensway Dr.
MAKE IT A WEEKEND GETAWAY:
Cinco de Mayo at the Catalina Museum for Art and History
The Catalina Museum for Art and History is offering free admission to its family-friendly Cinco de Mayo celebration Friday, May 5. The evening event, from 6-9 p.m., will feature live music by the Latin band Sin Frontera and a dance performance by Ballet Folklorico Quetzal. Other activities include art projects for children, Mexican food vendors plus cocktails, beer and wine for adults.
While the museum’s Cinco de Mayo might not be the end-all reason to take a ferry ride over, it’s certainly an ideal stop for those looking to make the most out of their weekend on the island. RSVP to the event here.
The Catalina Museum for Art and History is at 217 Metropole Ave., Avalon.
THOSE WHO ENJOY CREATIVE MASHUPS:
Cinco de Mayo at The Bamboo Club
An ideal place for tiki cocktails anytime, The Bamboo Club is serving up a special Cinco de Mayo cocktail and food menu all weekend long. The cocktails will be a Mexican-tiki fusion made with an assortment of agave spirits and flavors.
Food features will include a mole burger, with a beef patty, chocolate mole, Oaxaca cheese, grilled onions, cilantro and unagi mayo, plus ceviche with shrimp, cod, onion, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño and citrus.
The Bamboo Club is open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and until midnight on Sundays.
The Bamboo Club is at 3522 E. Anaheim St.
Cinco de Meow
Commemorate what would likely be the most memorable Cinco de Mayo experience by adopting a pet from the Long Beach Animal Care Services shelter on Saturday, May 6.
The shelter is offering $5 adoptions for all of its cats and dogs and is celebrating the occasion with festive music and performances. There will also be taco trucks on-site. The event is from 3-5 p.m. Click here for more information.
Long Beach Animal Care Services is at 7700 E. Spring St.