For most North Texans, Cinco de Mayo means donning sombreros and enjoying Mexican food (and maybe a margarita for Mom and Dad), but contrary to popular belief, the date is not a celebration of Mexican independence (that’s September 16). It is, however, the commemoration of the Mexican’s unlikely victory over the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. Regardless, it’s an excuse for a mid-week or weekend fiesta filled with fun. Take the family to one of these parades, festivals, restaurants, or shops and devour the culture, heritage and lively music inspired by our neighbors across the Rio Grande. To that, we say Ole!
Get ready to race. The Cinco de Mayo Run Walk & Roll is a 1K, 5K or 10K for the whole family. It’s an accessible route (so strollers and wheelchairs are welcome) that starts at the McKinney PlayTri store and weaves its way through the surrounding neighborhood. All participants get a free T-shirt and proceeds from the race benefit the Neuro Assistance Foundation, which provides assistance to those with disabilities or spinal cord injuries. Race fees start at $15.
Where: PlayTri, McKinney
Contact: 469/342-6776; playtri.com/cinco
Small town Celina hosts a Cinco de Mayo celebration with a big bang. Head north for an afternoon parade, Aztec and folkloric dancers, live music, food, piñatas, a bounce house, and games, all in the city’s historic downtown square.
When: May 6 from 2–10pm
Where: Downtown historic square, Celina
Contact: 214/592-5318; cincodemayocelina.com
FOOD & DRINK
Mattito’s Mexican restaurant boasts the biggest Cinco de Mayo fiesta in Dallas, and the crowd that shows is proof (the restaurant expects over 4,500 people at its five locations). Go early to see the mariachi band or live DJ, join in the bull rides, and enjoy adult drink specials.
When: May 5 from 5pm–closing
Dallas, Oak Lawn 214/526-8181
Dallas, Forest Lane 214/377-9576
Las Colinas 214/379-0165
Visit Panaderia La Reina Imperial for traditional Mexican postres. If you’ve never tasted them, you’re in for a treat — literally. The bakery features a plentiful and authentic selection, from flan and pan dulce (sweet bread) to churros, galletas (cookies) and cakes, including tres leches (three milks).
When: Daily from 6am–10pm
Where: Panaderia La Reina Imperial, Plano
Let the kids watch as Mexico’s comfort food is made at Plano Tortilla and Tamale Factory. The tamales here start from scratch with corn that’s turned into a dough called masa. A machine then stuffs the masa with meat, beans or cheese, then sends it down a conveyor belt. One-by-one, the tamales are then wrapped in corn husks, steamed, bagged and sold by the dozen. Call ahead to see what’s available because this shop sells out quickly.
When: May 5 fromfrom 7am–4pm
Where: Plano Tortilla and Tamale Factory, Plano
Bring blankets, chairs and a picnic to McKinney’s Cultural Music Series inaugural concert. The season starts with performances by Mariachi Michoacán, a local mariachi band, and Lara Latin, a Latin/Salsa jazz ensemble. Admission and parking are free.
When: May 7 from 9:30am–2:30pm
Where: Old Settler’s Recreations Center, McKinney
Contact: 972/547-7489; mckinneytexas.org
Head over to historic Jefferson Boulevard — considered the epicenter of one of the most important commercial and cultural zones of the Mexican American community — for Dallas Cinco de Mayo, the biggest and longest running 5th of May celebration in the area. Snag a spot along the parade route to watch floats, marching bands, ballet folklorico and costumes, then head to the festival for live music, food and more. Free.
When: May 6 from 10am–4pm
Where: The parade starts at Oak Cliff Cultural Center, 223 W. Jefferson Blvd
Contact: 469/657-4090; oakcliffarts.org
The city of Garland hosts its fifth annual Cinco de Mayo Downtown Festival, which includes dancing, live music, steet tacos, a kids zone, games and more. Students from Garland ISD perform mariachi and folklorico throughout the day. Local country and Mexican-American bands take the stage starting at 7pm. Free.
When: May 5 at 7pm to May 6 at 10pm
Where: Garland City Square
Contact: 972/205-2749; cincodemayogarlandtx.com
Planning your own Cinco celebration? Get the goods and the garb at La Mariposa Imports, an ethnic retailer featuring clothing, jewelry, folk art and home decor. The store stocks Mexican fashions, from puebla and embroidered Oaxacan dresses to campesina (peasant-style) blouses. You’ll also find party supplies such as piñatas, sombreros and authentic serapes to drape over the tables.
When: 10:30am–5:30pm Monday through Saturday; 1–5pm Sunday
Where: La Mariposa Imports, Dallas
Contact: 214/826-0069; lamariposaimports.com