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David Lissner
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Six Chicago spots for celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Mexican flag

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the May 5, 1862, victory of the Mexican army over occupying French troops at the Battle of Puebla. Why have a fiesta here? The defeat kept the French from joining forces with the Confederates during the American Civil War. And why not?

Here are a few places to celebrate around Chicago:

  1. Double A at Mercadito Cinco de Mayo Cooking Demonstration, 6 p.m. Monday, April 25, River North, $55.

    Chef Patricio Sandoval and guest chef Michael Fiorello offer a preview tasting and demonstration of Fiorello’s pavo ahumando en chili verdetaco. The dish will be featured throughout May as the featured item in Mercadito’s “Tacos for Strength,” a year-long campaign to raise awareness and funds for the Share Our Strength anti-hunger organization with a taco by a different celebrated chef each month. The event also features Sandoval’s demo of his recipe for his signature mole and stories and cooking tips regarding culinary traditions of Puebla, plus a five-course meal with paired cocktails. Reservations are required.

  2. Cactus Bar and Grill, Pre-Cinco de Mayo Party, 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 28, and Cinco de Mayo Celebration, 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday, May 5, Loop.

    At next week’s pre-Cinco event, Patron brand ambassadors will pour free samples of tequila and give away Patron merchandise. The May 5 celebration features a roaming DJ, Dos Equis dancers, drink specials and Chef Glenn Pistorio’s specialties, including artichoke jalapeno dip, Baja shrimp cocktail, nachos grande, mini tacos, quesadillas, chicken tortilla soup, Southwest Cobb salad, taco salad, Baja mahi mahi sandwich, blackened shrimp wrap and Southwest chicken wrap.

  3. O’Donovan’s, Cinco de Mayo Specials, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 29, through Thursday, May 5, North Center.

    Chef Victor DeLeon’s menu offers such items as camarones a la parrilla, grilled jumbo shrimp with pineapple sauce; steak, chicken, or pan-seared tilapia tacos; carne asada; and chicken or steak fajitas; plus drink specials.

  4. Carnivale Cinco de Mayo Specials, Thursday, May 5, River West.

    Look for such specials as guatape de camaron, spicy shrimp soup; vuelve a la vida, seafood salad; and mixiote de puerco, Maple Creek pork shoulder and pork-belly tamal with mole verde. Drink specials will also be available.

  5. Totopo Mexican Grill Cinco de Mayo Specials, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 5, Oak Brook.

    Chef Dudley Nieto’s holiday specials include such items as sorpresa Veracruzana, roasted poblano peppers stuffed with shrimp, mahi mahi and calamari, and rollitos de beef en pasilla salsa, seared skirt steak rolled around zucchini, carrots and chayote.

  6. Zocalo Cinco de Mayo Street Fare Bar Menu, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, May 5, River North.

    Mariachi music beginning at 6 p.m., giveaways, drink specials and a bar menu of tacos and tortas — including barbacoa, birria, carnitas and more — feature.