In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is no Fourth of July. While it is a significant day in the country’s history, marking victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, Mexico’s biggest holiday, Independence Day, is Sept. 16. North of the border, however, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a daylong celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Similar to the way everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, you don’t have to be Mexican to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. This year, there are plenty of opportunities in the Baltimore area to soak up the flavor and fun of Mexican culture. ¡Salud!

Photo Credit: Arcos Restaurant via Facebook

Arcos Restaurant
129 S. Broadway
Baltimore, Md. 21231
(410) 522-4777

Hours: Daily – 11a.m. to 12 a.m.

This authentic Mexican restaurant has earned a reputation for an unforgettable menu and an unbeatable atmosphere. Located in Fells Point, an area with a significant Mexican-American population, Arcos celebrates most Mexican holidays in true style, and Cinco de Mayo is no different. The restaurant promises a wild-yet-pleasant celebration featuring live mariachi music, tequila specials and party favors starting around mid-day on the 5th and continuing late into the night. On Saturday, they will close the street for a parade and traditional Mexican dances.

Related: Baltimore’s Ethnic Festivals

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La Palapa Grill & Cantina
8307 Main St.
Ellicott City, Md. 21043
(410) 465-0070

 Mon to Thurs –11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fri to Sat – 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

This festive neighborhood restaurant and bar in the heart of Ellicott City pulls out all the stops and puts up a tent for its Cinco de Mayo party, which has been known to attract 2,500 people throughout the day. The family-friendly festivities feature real miniature donkeys, street-style tacos and an authentic Mexican Mariachi band. But the party doesn’t stop there. This year, La Palapa will use the occasion to raise funds for the Voices for Children Foundation. A $5 admission includes live performances by local bands Jah Works and The White House Effect, as well as a DJ.

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Little Havana
1325 Key Hwy.
Baltimore, Md. 21230
(410) 837 9903

Hours: Mon to Sat – 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Despite being named for the capital of Cuba, Little Havana attracts a big crowd for its “5 Days of Cinco” celebration. Located on the water on the south shore of the Baltimore Harbor, Little Havana’s decks will be packed for its 15th annual party. As in years past, Little Havana will feature food and drink specials, prizes and giveaways including maracas and sombreros. On Cinco de Mayo at Little Havana, everyone is Mexican.

Photo Credit: Mex Baltimore via Facebook

MEX Tequila Bar
Power Plant Live!
26 Market Pl.
Baltimore, Md. 21202
(410) 528-0128

Hours: Mon to Fri ­– 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sat – 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sun – 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.

If you thought MEX was a fun place to hang out on a regular weekend, you should see how they celebrate Cinco de Mayo. This Power Plant Live bar and restaurant will open early on May 5 and start the fun with “Beat the Clock” drink specials. Prices for Mexican beer (Sol and Dos XX) and margaritas begin at 50 cents from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and increase by 50 cents each hour until 5 p.m., when they are full price. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. customers can enjoy beef tacos for $1 each and of course MEX’s regular menu that brings a unique style and approach to Tex-Mex dining. There will be no shortage of entertainment at MEX throughout Cinco de Mayo, including a live donkey fun photo-op from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., a mega-burrito eating contest and acoustic music on the deck from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. When the sun goes down and the tables are cleared, things will really heat up with a DJ on site to spin your favorite tunes.

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Zen West Roadside Cantina
5916 York Road
Baltimore, Md. 21212
(410) 323-3368

Hours: Sun to Mon – 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tues to Thurs – 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri to Sat – 11:30 a.m. to Midnight

For Cinco de Mayo, Zen West throws open the windows and welcome in the crowds for a day-long party featuring food and drink specials in a festive open-air atmosphere. The family-owned Tex-Mex restaurant in Belvedere Square will feature fours bars serving Mexican beer and, of course, its very popular margaritas. If you are looking for a Zen-like atmosphere, you won’t find it here on Cinco de Mayo.

Related: Best Mexican Food In Baltimore