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Places to Celebrate the Most American of Mexican Days

Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May, is a day worth celebrating, but not for what you think. Many folks confuse the holiday with Mexican Independence Day, which occurs on September 16. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the win of the Battle of Pueblo, an unlikely victory by the Mexican army over France during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862. Mexico gained independence more than 40 years before this battle took place. Most places in Mexico don’t even celebrate Cinco de Mayo — banks, schools, and offices remain open. The tradition mostly exists in the U.S., and we’ve gathered a list of some of the best food and fiestas here in the North Sound to celebrate the Mexican culture that influences us.

JALAPEŇOS

Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, founder Jesse Cantu brings authentic Mexican flavors and inspiration to everything in all three Northwest locations. Not only is food part of the experience, but so is celebrating family and life. Join in on the fun on Cinco de Mayo and order a “Big Mama” margarita.

Locations vary, Bellingham
jalapenos-wa.com

CASA QUE PASA

Try the burritos famed food critic Alton Brown referred to as “the size of a small cat.” Go for their famous potato burrito, which is stuffed with, beans, cheese, and charred potato pieces. As Brown himself says, “It doesn’t sound good, but it is.”

1415 Railroad Ave., Bellingham
360.756.8226 | casaquepasarocks.com

NORTHWATER

For a celebratory special, check out the Cinco de Mayo menu. Try the featured exclusive drinks like South of the Border, Sayulita, and El Beso de Virginia, which all pair perfectly with the also-exclusive fish tacos.

4260 Mitchell Way, Bellingham
360.398.6191 | northh2o.com

EL GITANO

El Gitano prides itself on being authentic to old Mexico, boasting attributes both in décor and food. Every year for Cinco de Mayo, it hosts a big party including everything from trivia and games with prizes to a mariachi band. Each year is different, but one thing that remains consistent is that this is my favorite Mexican food around — high accolades from this former Texan.

Locations vary in Bellingham, Mount Vernon, La Conner, Burlington
elgitano.net

COA MEXICAN EATERY

Offering vegetarian, vegan, and glutenfree options, this authentic Mexican restaurant is sure to please the entire family. The name “coa” comes from the tool used to harvest the agave plant for tequila production. This name inspired the 100 percent agave tequila selections the restaurant serves.

102 S. 10th St., Mount Vernon
360.840.1938 | coaeatery.com

MIJITAS MEXICAN KITCHEN

Rarely open on Sundays, an exception had to be made for this Cinco de Mayo. Chef Raul uses fresh ingredients in all his dishes, which are inspired by his childhood in Mexico. Stop by between 4 p.m.–8 p.m. to try the “best mole outside Oaxaca.”

310 A St., Eastsound
360.376.6722 | mijitasorcas.com

TINA’S TACOS

Grab a seat on the patio and celebrate Cinco with tacos inspired by “mom’s” Spanish home cooking flavor. If you’re more the party-at-home type, Tina’s offers take-out orders. If you’re throwing a big Cinco de Mayo fiesta, they’re proud to offer catering for gatherings of any size.

485 Elsworth Ave., Friday Harbor
360.842.3228 | tinas-tacos.com

Other Great Cinco Spots

Lilia’s Mexican Cuisine

190 E. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham
360.527.3181

California Tacos & Fresh Juices

4252 Cordata Pkwy., Bellingham
360.312.4340

Chihuahua Family Mexican Restaurant

5694 3rd Ave., Ferndale
360.384.5820

Taqueria La Bamba

2222 Riverside Dr., Mount Vernon
360.424.0824

Mariposa

14003 Gilmore Ave., Bow
360.820.9912

Mi Casita Mexican Restaurant

680 Spring St., Friday Harbor
360.378.6103

Chimayo En El Dia

112 Haven Rd., Eastsound
360.376.6337

For more like this, check out this month’s Mixing Tin for Northwater’s El Beso de Virginia here.

"We’ve gathered a list of some of the best food and fiestas here in the North Sound to celebrate the Mexican culture that influences us."