9 Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Milwaukee

While we would never advocate donning a cheesy sombrero and novelty mustache to celebrate a holiday whose origins you don’t understand, we can all agree that taco and tequila deals are always a good idea.

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of Mexico’s independence (that would be Dieciséis de Septiembre, which rolls a little less easily off the gringo tongue after a few margs). The fifth of May actually marks the 1862 victory of the Battle of Puebla. Today, for better or worse, the holiday has been rebranded as a day of spicy, tortilla-wrapped revelry. If you choose to observe—sans sombrero, we beg you—here are some events and specials to take advantage of around Milwaukee.

City Lights Brewing Company: Snag a Raspberry Beer-garita (man, we love margarita puns!) or a five-dollar flight from 5 to 7 p.m. And all beers are cinco dollars. 

Matador Taco + Tequila Bar: Besides the food and drink specials ($2 tacos, $3 Mexican beers, $4 margaritas), there will be an adult piñata at this fiesta. We’re not sure exactly what that entails, but we’re willing to find out.

“First Friday” Salsa Social at Delaware House: DJ Mateo will spin the Latin beats at this 18-and-up salsa dancing extravaganza. The event is alcohol-free, but they’ll start the evening with a lesson so you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.

Cinco de Drinko at McGillycuddy’s: We’re fairly certain that drinko isn’t a real Spanish word, but we know what it means in English! Get free tacos from 9 to 10 p.m. and drink specials throughout the night. Word on the street is this party also comes with a piñata.

The Passport Series: Tequila vs. Mezcal at The Chef’s Table: These interactive workshops endeavor to teach participants to enjoy and differentiate the subtle nuances of wine and spirits with all five senses. Friday’s event promises to break down the complicated Venn diagram that is tequila and mezcal.

Fiesta de Lincoln: Enlightened Brewing Company, Eagle Park Brewing Company and Dock18 Cocktail Lab are teaming up to bring you the ultimate cerveza-fueled fiesta. Head to the Lincoln Warehouse (2018 S. 1st St) for taco specials from newbie food cart Pig Tailz MKE, special release beers and a signature cocktail with proceeds benefiting Centro Hispano Milwaukee.

Spring Vegetarian Dinner at Bacchus: Executive Chef Nick Wirth will be plating up a veg-friendly feast celebrating the colors and flavors of Mexico. If you’re looking to do more appreciating than appropriating, this is the place to go.

Gypsy Taco’s Anniversary Week: The truck behind Boone & Crockett has been celebrating all week, culminating with a patio party on Cinco de Mayo. Details are sparse but, well, they’re a taco truck so you can’t go wrong.

Food Truck Friday: Catch the Hidden Kitchen MKE food truck reprising their popular Food Truck Friday at Three Cellars Oak Creek (7228 S. 27th St.) serving up a Mexican-themed menu in honor of not-Mexico’s-independence-day.

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Karisa Langlo is the Digital Editor for Milwaukee Magazine.