Monday, April 28, 2008

Three Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Three Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

So enough about New York not having authentic Mexican food. While true to someone from California, this doesn’t mean we don’t know how to properly celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the way that it deserves. But first, a little clarification on exactly what it is we’re drinking all these margaritas for.
Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, is NOT Mexican Independence Day (that would be September 16th). It’s the day the Mexican Army defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla, symbolizing their ability to fight for sovereignty against foreign intervention. Now that that's clear, we’ve put together a little round-up of restaurants for you, from small plates to prix-fixe menus and plenty of delicious booze to go around—you know, the way New Yorkers love to celebrate best. —Grace Nguyen

Free Tequila with Dinner at Crema Restaurant, 111 West 17th Street (at 6th Ave), (212) 691-4477,

From May 2nd through May 9th, Crema Restaurant’s chef Julieta Ballesteros (originally from Monterrey, Mexico) will be creating an original five-course menu ($50 per person) incorporating French techniques into Mexican cuisine—a symbolic reconciliation through food, you could say. (If we’re going to learn anything from the French, it might as well be their cuisine.) So come join this culinary reunion where you’ll be feasting on chipotle-lime French onion soup, foie gras duck enchilada suiza, huitlacoche pomme frites, and crepes con cajeta y nuez. And the best part? Dinner comes with complimentary tequila pairings of all ages of Milagro tequila—Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo—some of which will be infused with lavender, pear, and cassis. All week long, classic Mexican cocktails will pay tribute to the French occupancy with Absinthe Margaritas with fleur de sel de guerande, a Cassis Margaritas, and White Rioja Sangria with Poire Williams.

Mariachis and Tequila at Toloache, 251 West 50th Street (between Broadway & 8th Aves), 212-581-1818,

Chef Julian Medina of Toloache is getting the celebration started early, and with a live mariachi band, no less. His special menu begins Monday, April 28th and runs through May 5th. It includes spicy lobster tacos with chipotle salsa and avocado ($17), shrimp quesadillas with chihuahua cheese and pineapple chile ancho salsa ($14), brick oven roasted baby goat with chile de arbol salsa and an avocado salad, home made corn tortillas ($30), and an avocado cheesecake with a Meyer lemon strawberry salsa and kiwi sorbet ($10). Dinner would not be complete without one of Julian’s special margaritas. There’s a fiery one made from Sauza Commemorativo Hornitas tequila with lime, chambord, and jalapeno, the De la Calle, a savory cocktail of Siembra Azul blanco tequila with muddled cucumber, jicama, basil, fresh squeezed lime juice and a spicy salt rim, and the Toloache, Frida Kahlo blanco tequila mixed with hibiscus, muddled blueberries, and lime. It might be best to conduct your own tequila and cocktail tasting for this one.

Mexican Beer Bash at Rock Center Café, 20 West 50th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave), 212-332-7620.

We haven’t forgotten about you beer-drinkers out there. On Monday, May 5th, Rock Center Café will be hosting a fabulous five-course Mexican Beer Dinner. The dinner gets started with queso blanco fondue stocked with chorizo and chilies (served with a Negro Modello Especial), soft seafood tacos made with crispy snapper, garlic shrimp, cilantro-lime mayo and pineapple pasilla pepper salsa (served with our favorite, Corona), seared skirt steak with guajillo-roasted tomato sauce, poblano sweet corn tamale, and green chili rice (served with a Negro Modelo), and caramelized plantain banana split with Mexican cholate and dulce de leche (served with Pacifico). The Mexican Beer Dinner is $52 per person and begins at 6:30pm and runs until 8:30pm. Reservations are required.

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