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Where To Eat, Drink For Cinco de Mayo

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In a town just a short drive from the Mexican border, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration taken seriously (simple Tecate and taco specials just don't cut it). Chefs and bartenders are putting unique spins on the holiday to stand out of the pack, from Venga Venga's grasshopper-infused guacamole to a real tattoo contest for free Taco Tuesday for life at Puesto.

Say hola to these 15 options we found throughout the county that are sure to induce Tuesday morning hangovers, with some revving up the fiesta as soon as Saturday.


--Tierney Plumb

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Venga Venga Cantina & Tequila Bar

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2015 Birch Rd Ste 710
Chula Vista, CA 91915
(619) 397-0977
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Ogle over a wall of 100 tequilas and mescals Monday to the tune of live mariachi. There's no Mexican fiesta without guac, so starting now through June 15, Venga Venga's throwing a first annual Annual Guacamole Festival in celebration of the green dip’s regional variations. Executive Chef Richard Sandoval's picks include the Yucatan (fresh shrimp ceviche and spicy habanero salsa); Baja (kiwi, strawberry, mango, mint, jicama and chile arbol); or go locos with the Sur, which includes grasshoppers.

2. Puesto

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789 W Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 233-8880
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On Monday from 3 to 6 p.m., Puesto's Perfect Margaritas will be $6 (they're normally $10) and from 6 p.m. to close expect a Casa Noble Tequila tasting. Taco Tuesday comes a day early, with a Puesto Taco Icon Tattoo given to the guest who eats the most tacos between 6 to 7 p.m. The winner gets a free taco every Tuesday for life if they show their awarded ink.

3. Wine Vault & Bistro

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3731 India St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-3939
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If you're looking to get stuffed and sloshed on Cinco de Mayo, head to Wine Vault for 10 courses and five drinks. The upstairs wine bar is taking a break from vino for two nights, serving guests a shot of super-premium Fortaleza tequilas, IPA from AleSmith, and two margaritas. To absorb it all, nosh on crispy halibut tacos, braised chicken enchiladas, and slow roasted carnitas. The $45 experience is sold out for Sunday, but there are still seatings for after 8:30 p.m. Monday.

4. Don Chido

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527 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-8226
Get a sneak peek of the new Mexican eatery replacing the closed Fred's Mexican Cafe on Monday, set to open in mid-May. The 5th Avenue prime people watching patio will be serving .55 cent tacos for the 5/5 holiday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; expect carne asada street tacos, chips, guacamole and homemade agua fresca drinks while learning more about the anticipated opening from Chef Antonio Friscia himself. The menu will feature regionally influenced, handcrafted Mexican cooking with locally sourced ingredients.

5. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

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5173 Valencia Circle
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
(858) 756-1123
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Giddy up to Cinco de Mayo at The Pony Room with half off margaritas, Mexican beers, tacos, tortilla chips and enchiladas all day. Farm-fresh dishes including skirt steak carne asada tacos, mahi mahi fish tacos and Shelton's Farm red chicken enchiladas. Festive libations include the resort's 25th anniversary cocktail, The Silver Pony, made with Tres Agaves Blanco, Cointreau lemonade, Serrano-infused syrup and garnished with a lemon twist. Did we mention there are 150 variations of tequilas to choose from? Might want to get a room.

6. The Commons Bar

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901 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 696-8888
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Here's another reason to play hooky Monday: This Gaslamp sports bar is throwing an all day celebration with an array of specials, including their signature Skinny Scorpion margaritas, $4 Dos XX, and $1 street tacos.

7. Chandler's Carlsbad

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1 Ponto Road
Carlsbad, CA 92011
(855) 683-5500
Pretend you're drinking in Baja California at this oceanside oasis. Splurge on a Margarita Ice Cream Float or Chocolate Flan, with coastal regional cuisine from Chef Pascal Vignau. The Pacific Ocean vistas are nuts, with three outdoor seating areas (two of which share a fire lounge area).

8. Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

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1202 Camino Del Rio N
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 481-6191
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With the lime shortage sending prices sky-high, there's a new margarita alternative that popped up in time for the holiday. The SoCal restaurant chain reacted to less lime by launching a new menu of clean cocktails, including a Pom Margarita featuring Sauza tequila, 100% pure pomegranate juice, housemade sweet and sour, and a black sea salt rim.

9. Casa Sol y Mar

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12865 El Camino Real
San Diego, CA 92130
(858) 792-4100
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Pre-game the holiday all weekend in Del Mar, with entertainment kicking off Saturday with Ballet Folklorico at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., and mariachi performers from 1 to 9 p.m. On Monday during happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Cantina, guests get promotional giveaways from Dos Equis, Pacífico and Negra Modelo, as well as house margaritas for $3.95. Featured food and drink specials include the Cincorita Margarita and Enchiladas Banderas.

10. La Puerta

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560 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 696-3466
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Gaslamp's hipster watering hole is hosting happy hour all night Monday with half off all appetizers and drinks. Expect a dance party to kick off, thanks to a mariachi band and the DJ that comes on at 10 p.m.

11. El Camino

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2400 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 685-3881
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El Camino's celebrating a day early this year by taking Sunday Funday to a new extreme. The uber cool (and colorful) Day of the Dead-inspired bar under the flight path will serve up $5 margaritas and tequila and Fireball shots. The craziest spiked concoction of them all is a bottomless mimosa fountain that'll spurt out champs and OJ for $10. Also expect a donkey photo booth, face painting and $2 tacos. A $5 cover kicks in at 3 p.m. but here's a tip: RSVP on their Facebook page and it's free. Festivities kick off at 11 a.m. for brunch, with DJs like Kanye Asada and Don't Go Jason Waterfalls. If you're a marathon partyer, come back Monday night for regular happy hour specials and Mexican music.

12. Leroy's Kitchen & Lounge

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1015 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA 92118
(619) 437-6087
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For Cinco de Mayo, trek across the Coronado Bridge for two braised short rib tacos with a Corona for $14, available for lunch and dinner. There will also be Leroy's Margaritas for $5.50. Fun cocktail party convo starter: The restaurant is named after Blue Bridge Hospitality's well-traveled co-founder, Leroy Mossel, who alongside his Blue Bridge partner and cousin, David Spatafore—both long-time residents of Coronado— launched the restaurant group in 1998.

13. Pearl Hotel

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1410 Rosecrans St
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 226-6100
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Point Loma's retro poolside hot spot is going the authentic route Monday, tapping Tijuana talent to grill up tacos. Buddy and consulting chef Oso Campos is tag teaming with The Pearl's Chef Jaison Burke on the outdoor taco grill as a sneak peek for Burke's Tacos Perla concept. Feast on their creations from 4 to 7 p.m., or until they run out, with carne asada, octopus with pesto, chile de casa with shrimp, and vegan varieties. Choose from $5 Micheladas, $3 craft beers, $4 wells, and $5 wines, as well as $1 Buck-A-Shuck Oysters.

14. Fat Fish Cantina Grill

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4474 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 490-2877
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Head on down to this PB dive bar for an authentic beachside experience on Monday. Expect live music, roasted street corn, ceviche with fresh avocado, Mexican beers on draft, and what the hostess promises as "the best sangria in PB." Their Ultimate Baja Margarita stands out too, with Grand Marnier and a splash of OJ.

15. Casa Guadalajara

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4105 Taylor St
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 295-5111
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Old Town is the go-to locale for this holiday, so naturally it's a three-day event at Casa Guadalajara. Starting noon Saturday, Sunday and Monday, expect Troubadours, followed by mariachi and Ballet Folkloric performances. Some of its most popular antojitos (appetizers) will also be on special those days, including the cheese quesadillas, nachos chicos, tostadita and taquitos chicos for $4.95 and mini ceviche for $5.95. On the big day, drink specials kick off at noon in the Cantina, with Margarita de Cointreau for $5.95 from noon to 2 p.m.; MargaFrida (Frida Kahlo margarita) for $6.95 from 4-6 p.m.; Herradura Silver Shots for $5 from 6-8 p.m.; and Herradura Skinny Margarita for $6.95 from 8:15-10:15 p.m.

1. Venga Venga Cantina & Tequila Bar

2015 Birch Rd Ste 710, Chula Vista, CA 91915
Ogle over a wall of 100 tequilas and mescals Monday to the tune of live mariachi. There's no Mexican fiesta without guac, so starting now through June 15, Venga Venga's throwing a first annual Annual Guacamole Festival in celebration of the green dip’s regional variations. Executive Chef Richard Sandoval's picks include the Yucatan (fresh shrimp ceviche and spicy habanero salsa); Baja (kiwi, strawberry, mango, mint, jicama and chile arbol); or go locos with the Sur, which includes grasshoppers.
2015 Birch Rd Ste 710
Chula Vista, CA 91915

2. Puesto

789 W Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
On Monday from 3 to 6 p.m., Puesto's Perfect Margaritas will be $6 (they're normally $10) and from 6 p.m. to close expect a Casa Noble Tequila tasting. Taco Tuesday comes a day early, with a Puesto Taco Icon Tattoo given to the guest who eats the most tacos between 6 to 7 p.m. The winner gets a free taco every Tuesday for life if they show their awarded ink.
789 W Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101

3. Wine Vault & Bistro

3731 India St, San Diego, CA 92103
If you're looking to get stuffed and sloshed on Cinco de Mayo, head to Wine Vault for 10 courses and five drinks. The upstairs wine bar is taking a break from vino for two nights, serving guests a shot of super-premium Fortaleza tequilas, IPA from AleSmith, and two margaritas. To absorb it all, nosh on crispy halibut tacos, braised chicken enchiladas, and slow roasted carnitas. The $45 experience is sold out for Sunday, but there are still seatings for after 8:30 p.m. Monday.
3731 India St
San Diego, CA 92103

4. Don Chido

527 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Get a sneak peek of the new Mexican eatery replacing the closed Fred's Mexican Cafe on Monday, set to open in mid-May. The 5th Avenue prime people watching patio will be serving .55 cent tacos for the 5/5 holiday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; expect carne asada street tacos, chips, guacamole and homemade agua fresca drinks while learning more about the anticipated opening from Chef Antonio Friscia himself. The menu will feature regionally influenced, handcrafted Mexican cooking with locally sourced ingredients.
527 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

5. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

5173 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Giddy up to Cinco de Mayo at The Pony Room with half off margaritas, Mexican beers, tacos, tortilla chips and enchiladas all day. Farm-fresh dishes including skirt steak carne asada tacos, mahi mahi fish tacos and Shelton's Farm red chicken enchiladas. Festive libations include the resort's 25th anniversary cocktail, The Silver Pony, made with Tres Agaves Blanco, Cointreau lemonade, Serrano-infused syrup and garnished with a lemon twist. Did we mention there are 150 variations of tequilas to choose from? Might want to get a room.
5173 Valencia Circle
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

6. The Commons Bar

901 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Here's another reason to play hooky Monday: This Gaslamp sports bar is throwing an all day celebration with an array of specials, including their signature Skinny Scorpion margaritas, $4 Dos XX, and $1 street tacos.
901 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

7. Chandler's Carlsbad

1 Ponto Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011
Pretend you're drinking in Baja California at this oceanside oasis. Splurge on a Margarita Ice Cream Float or Chocolate Flan, with coastal regional cuisine from Chef Pascal Vignau. The Pacific Ocean vistas are nuts, with three outdoor seating areas (two of which share a fire lounge area).
1 Ponto Road
Carlsbad, CA 92011

8. Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

1202 Camino Del Rio N, San Diego, CA 92108
With the lime shortage sending prices sky-high, there's a new margarita alternative that popped up in time for the holiday. The SoCal restaurant chain reacted to less lime by launching a new menu of clean cocktails, including a Pom Margarita featuring Sauza tequila, 100% pure pomegranate juice, housemade sweet and sour, and a black sea salt rim.
1202 Camino Del Rio N
San Diego, CA 92108

9. Casa Sol y Mar

12865 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130
Pre-game the holiday all weekend in Del Mar, with entertainment kicking off Saturday with Ballet Folklorico at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., and mariachi performers from 1 to 9 p.m. On Monday during happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Cantina, guests get promotional giveaways from Dos Equis, Pacífico and Negra Modelo, as well as house margaritas for $3.95. Featured food and drink specials include the Cincorita Margarita and Enchiladas Banderas.
12865 El Camino Real
San Diego, CA 92130

10. La Puerta

560 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Gaslamp's hipster watering hole is hosting happy hour all night Monday with half off all appetizers and drinks. Expect a dance party to kick off, thanks to a mariachi band and the DJ that comes on at 10 p.m.
560 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

11. El Camino

2400 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
El Camino's celebrating a day early this year by taking Sunday Funday to a new extreme. The uber cool (and colorful) Day of the Dead-inspired bar under the flight path will serve up $5 margaritas and tequila and Fireball shots. The craziest spiked concoction of them all is a bottomless mimosa fountain that'll spurt out champs and OJ for $10. Also expect a donkey photo booth, face painting and $2 tacos. A $5 cover kicks in at 3 p.m. but here's a tip: RSVP on their Facebook page and it's free. Festivities kick off at 11 a.m. for brunch, with DJs like Kanye Asada and Don't Go Jason Waterfalls. If you're a marathon partyer, come back Monday night for regular happy hour specials and Mexican music.
2400 India St
San Diego, CA 92101

12. Leroy's Kitchen & Lounge

1015 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
For Cinco de Mayo, trek across the Coronado Bridge for two braised short rib tacos with a Corona for $14, available for lunch and dinner. There will also be Leroy's Margaritas for $5.50. Fun cocktail party convo starter: The restaurant is named after Blue Bridge Hospitality's well-traveled co-founder, Leroy Mossel, who alongside his Blue Bridge partner and cousin, David Spatafore—both long-time residents of Coronado— launched the restaurant group in 1998.
1015 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA 92118

13. Pearl Hotel

1410 Rosecrans St, San Diego, CA 92106
Point Loma's retro poolside hot spot is going the authentic route Monday, tapping Tijuana talent to grill up tacos. Buddy and consulting chef Oso Campos is tag teaming with The Pearl's Chef Jaison Burke on the outdoor taco grill as a sneak peek for Burke's Tacos Perla concept. Feast on their creations from 4 to 7 p.m., or until they run out, with carne asada, octopus with pesto, chile de casa with shrimp, and vegan varieties. Choose from $5 Micheladas, $3 craft beers, $4 wells, and $5 wines, as well as $1 Buck-A-Shuck Oysters.
1410 Rosecrans St
San Diego, CA 92106

14. Fat Fish Cantina Grill

4474 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
Head on down to this PB dive bar for an authentic beachside experience on Monday. Expect live music, roasted street corn, ceviche with fresh avocado, Mexican beers on draft, and what the hostess promises as "the best sangria in PB." Their Ultimate Baja Margarita stands out too, with Grand Marnier and a splash of OJ.
4474 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

15. Casa Guadalajara

4105 Taylor St, San Diego, CA 92110
Old Town is the go-to locale for this holiday, so naturally it's a three-day event at Casa Guadalajara. Starting noon Saturday, Sunday and Monday, expect Troubadours, followed by mariachi and Ballet Folkloric performances. Some of its most popular antojitos (appetizers) will also be on special those days, including the cheese quesadillas, nachos chicos, tostadita and taquitos chicos for $4.95 and mini ceviche for $5.95. On the big day, drink specials kick off at noon in the Cantina, with Margarita de Cointreau for $5.95 from noon to 2 p.m.; MargaFrida (Frida Kahlo margarita) for $6.95 from 4-6 p.m.; Herradura Silver Shots for $5 from 6-8 p.m.; and Herradura Skinny Margarita for $6.95 from 8:15-10:15 p.m.
4105 Taylor St
San Diego, CA 92110

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