Cinco de Mayo, now with 25% less to-kill-ya, ahem, tequila
It's common knowledge that Cinco de Mayo isn't actually Mexico's independence day; but if you're not careful it could become yours. Too many shots of bad tequila might result in your independence from not only the burrito you ate earlier, but also from your friends who will likely flee in the face of your resulting belligerence and obvious divorce from reality.
So let's keep it low-key this year, friend. Two margaritas will do nicely. And please, if you don't play in a Mariachi band, leave your sombrero at home. With those kindly words of caution, I happily offer up a few key Cinco de Mayo celebrations for your moderate party-day consumption:
El Conquistador: Although I have refused to set foot in this place since it repainted its exterior in Laker purple and gold, I never stopped loving it. It has incredible carrot soup, margaritas the size of menudo bowls and a festive environment filled with colorful tissue paper flags, layered tablecloths, pinatas and all manner of Mexican knick-knacks. Cinco de Mayo inevitably brings a raucous crowd that often spills out into a line on the street. So come early if you want to snag a table. 3701 W. Sunset Blvd., (323) 666-5136; www.elconquistadorrestaurant.com.
Mexico Restaurante y Barra: This Acapulco-style hang has only been open for about a year, but it has already established itself as a fun-loving, party-centric kind of place. Two patios overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard., bright pink walls and a bevy of creative cocktails make its sudsy siren song that much sweeter. On Cinco de Mayo Mexico is offering $15 pitchers of Dos Equis and Tecate; $5 tamales and taquitos; $8 cazadores margaritas; and a live Mariachi band. 8512 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood., (310) 289-0088; www.gogomexico.com.
Kiss My Bundt: Bundt kissing may not seem like a particularly Latin-flavored thing to do, but this charming 3rd Street bakery is offering a class on how to make Mexican-style cakes and frostings. Experiment with flavors and ingredients used in Mexico including beer, tequila, orange, lemon, lime, banana, chile, cinnamon and mint. As an added bonus, the class begins with a complimentary margarita, beer or tequila popper. The cost is $50. 8104 W. 3rd St., L.A., (323) 655-0559; http://kissmybundt.typepad.com.
-- Jessica Gelt
Photo: Margaritas from Mexico Restaurante y Barra. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / Los Angeles Times