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Seven great ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Chicago

Mexican flag

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Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla, which occurred during the 1862 Franco-Mexican War. In Mexico, it’s not nearly the celebration it is in Chicago, which makes it a festival kicking off the spring season. Of course, most Mexican eateries are offering May 5 specials, but all sorts of places are tipping sombreros to Mexican culture this weekend. We say ole to these fiestas:

  1. Little Village’s family-friendly Cinco de Mayo Festival offers great Mexican food, music, arts and crafts and carnival games. The fiesta runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, May 3, and 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5 at 26th Street and Kostner Avenue.

  2. The Cinco de Mayo Parade in Pilsen kicks off at noon Sunday, May 5, at Cermak Road and Wood Street and moves west down Cermak until it hits Kedzie Avenue. Marching bands, floats and music feature.

  3. Through Sunday, Wickets Bar and Grill in Schaumburg is running specials on Victoria, ‘Mexico’s oldest beer brand, along with Chef George Garcia’s special Cinco de Mayo menu, including pollo en mole rojo, chicken fiesta salad and a skirt steak burrito.

  4. Mount Prospect’s French restaurant, Retro Bistro, honors France’s defeat with a three-course French/Mexican prix fixe menu centered on such entree choices as Cancun steak frites, roasted chicken dark mole, steamed sea bass in parchment and cactus pork chop, plus live Mexican entertainment and Golden Jose Cuervo Grand Marnier margaritas from Friday May 3, through Sunday, May 5.

  5. Pioneer Tavern Group takes Cinco de Mayo on the road with their free Dos Equis Trolley Crawl between Lottie’s Pub in Bucktown, The Pony in Lakeview and Frontier in West Town from 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 5. Three trolleys stocked with Dos Equis beer, and Maestro Dobel Tequila will circulate between the bars every 30 minutes. Each venue will feature specials such aws $5 tequila shots and $3 Dos Equis. Reserve at Lottie’s and The Pony or email freetrolley@pioneertaverngroup.com.

  6. Geja’s Cafe in Lincoln Park spices up their usual offerings on Sunday, May 5, with chili con queso fondue accompanied by apples, grapes, bread and tortilla chips for dipping, plus $5 drink including Negra Modelo and margaritas.

  7. Cityscape Bar in River North stirs up a free class, “Mixology 101: Patron Tequila,” in honor of the holiday at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 9. Allison Yates from Patron Spirits will discuss how the spirits are made and demo a Jalisco old fashioned and the “perfect Patron margarita.” Nibbles will be served, too. Reservations are required at cityscape@martplaza.com.