Cinco de Mayo commemorates the day in 1862 when the Mexican army defeated French troops at the Battle of Puebla. It’s a minor holiday in Mexico but has grown into a major celebration of Mexican and Mexican-American heritage in the United States, particularly in Southern California.
In a valley boasting dozens of great Mexican restaurants and close ties to Mexico, the first weekend in May offers an array of colorful events. Here are some of the favorites for festive music, food, and drink.
Don Diego’s of Indian Wells gets the party started at 3 p.m. May 3-5, with the first 200 people in the door scoring T-shirts and drink tickets. Fun includes entertainment by mariachi bands and strolling guitarist Johnny Gitar, prize giveaways, drink specials, and top-shelf tequila tastings by Young’s Market. Stake your spot on the outdoor patio to enjoy the breeze and the action.
74969 Hwy. 111, Indian Wells.
Las Casuelas Terraza in downtown Palm Springs celebrates the holiday on May 5 with mariachi music at lunchtime and in the early evening. Check out the restaurant’s Tequila Hall of Fame — more than 75 varieties of tequila, mescal, and sotol served by the shot or in a flight arranged by region, village, or distillation.
222 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Also on May 5, El Jefe at The Saguaro — the cool celebration of Mexico City’s culture and cuisine from James Beard Award–winning chef Jose Garces — offers $5 margaritas and $2 tacos. El Jefe features close to 100 different tequilas for sipping or in a flight.
1800 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
If you’re in the mood for live entertainment, singer-songwriter Pepe Aguilar headlines at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio on May 2. Aguilar has won several Grammy awards and nominations for his soulful ranchero music.
84245 Indio Springs Pkwy., Indio.
The Show at Agua Caliente Casino • Resort • Spa welcomes popular stand-up comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias nightly from May 3 to 5. Look for mariachis on the gaming floor and Mexican dishes in the buffet line.
32250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage.
At Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa, the Mariachi Divas are on the ticket May 4 with a concert starting at 3 p.m. This all-female group is the resident band at Disney California Adventure Park and recently picked up their second Grammy award. The on-site Tacos & Tequila bar also hosts menu specials and a DJ all weekend from 8 p.m. to close.
49500 Seminole Dr., Cabazon.
Make Your Own Fun
To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Tommy Bahama has created a margarita that blends the sweetness of the islands with fiery tastes of Mexico.
Tommy Bahama Mango Habañero Margarita
1 3/4 parts Milagro Silver tequila
3/4 parts Curaçao orange liqueur
1 part mango purée
1 part scratch sour mix
2 slices fresh habañero
4 drops Bittermens Hellfire Habañero Shrub Bitters (available at Tommy Bahama)
Combine all ingredients with ice cubes and shake in a Boston shaker. Pour into a salt-rimmed glass and top with 2 habañero slices.
Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar, and Store
73595 El Paseo, Ste. 2200, Palm Desert