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Emma Valdiserri

Cinco de Mayo Restaurant Specials: Best Promotions

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Spring is in the air and May is on the horizon! What does that mean for your bar or restaurant business? It’s time to celebrate with some Cinco de Mayo restaurant specials-maybe even as happy hour specials.

Before diving into what food and drink items to feature on your Cinco de Mayo menu, let’s revisit what this holiday is all about. It's more than just bar and restaurant lingo or a day to head to the bar. It's a date that holds a special meaning for Mexican culture and history.

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What Is Cinco de Mayo?

Let’s unpack some history. Cinco de Mayo (fifth of May) is often confused with Mexican Independence Day.

However, it actually celebrates the Mexican triumph over France in the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican war. This battle occurred on May 5th, 1862.

Why Is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated?

Cinco de Mayo is a surprisingly minor holiday in Mexico. However, it’s predominantly celebrated in the state of Puebla where Mexico claimed its victory over France. The holiday consists of military parades, reenactments of the battle, and other fun festivities. 

While it may be minor in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo makes quite the showing in the United States. Areas with larger Mexican-American populations like Chicago and Houston celebrate to honor the battle and Mexican culture. Crowds gather for large parades and festivals that include traditional mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing, and delicious foods.

With food and drinks being a staple for this holiday, it’s a no-brainer for you to celebrate by offering Cinco de Mayo restaurant specials. And we’ve got some great ideas and standardized recipes to get you started! 

Are you excited to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but thinking about your budget? Learn the ways in which you can reduce restaurant monthly expenses and improve your restaurant KPI performance.

Celebrate With A Cinco de Mayo Menu

Make the most out of this holiday with a Cinco de Mayo menu guaranteed to please your customers. Check out how you can make the most out of your holiday specials below.

Whether you run a bar, restaurant, or both, there are plenty of Mexican food and drink recipes you can choose from. Spice up your Cinco de Mayo restaurant specials with popular cocktails and delicious Mexican food appetizers (often served in a style of the a la carte meaning).Combining these menu items and great customer service is the recipe to avoiding dine and dash.

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Cinco de Mayo Drink Specials

To get the cinco-de-drinko on at your restaurant or bar, consider offering festive drink specials to engage your customers. This lets you experiment with different types of alcohol, flavors, and garnishes.

Here are a few ideas for inspiration:


Horchata is the perfect drink to offer your customers that have a sweet tooth. Horchata consists of white rice soaked in water as the base and gets its flavors from cinnamon and sugar. If you want to spruce up this traditional Mexican drink, consider adding sliced almonds or other flavors like coconut and vanilla.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to get started:

  • White rice (long-grain)
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Almonds (sliced)
  • Whole milk (or dairy-free milk)
  • Cold water

While horchata is normally an alcohol-free beverage, you can add Kahlúa dark rum––one of the many types of rum. Doing so is sure to make it a flavorful cocktail. For garnish, add a cinnamon stick to your horchata glass before serving. This adds a decorative flair and can serve as a straw.

Tequila Tasting

For the tequila-lovers out there, be sure to offer a tequila tasting as one of your Cinco de Mayo specials. From blancos to reposados, consider serving a range of tequila for your customers to try. Don’t forget to have some salt and lime wedges on deck.

Mezcal Tasting

Tequila is tasty, no doubt. But mezcal is growing in popularity in the liquor world.

Mezcal is a blue-agave based liquor with rich smoky and earthy tones. Offer a mezcal tasting to spice up your Cinco de Mayo menu and your customers’ palettes.

Margarita Flights

A margarita is one of the drinks every bartender should know. When it comes to margaritas on Cinco de Mayo, the more, the better. Consider offering a margarita flight on your Cinco de Mayo menu. Maybe even mix in some options that use tonic water.

From jalapeños to mangos, a margarita flight is the best way to experiment with more flavors. You can even make a mezcal margarita for your customers’ taste buds to soar. Be sure to garnish and salt your glasses before your margarita flight takes off.


Nothing screams refreshing more than the perfect paloma. With hints of sweet and sour, a paloma cocktail is a great alternative to the classic margarita for your customers.

Here’s what you need to craft a paloma:

  • Tequila
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Club soda
  • Lime juice
  • Agave nectar (or simple syrup)
  • Salt
  • Ice

Once you’ve got your ingredients, learn how to make a paloma that’s guaranteed to please your customers and leave them wanting more. Always adhere to safe and legal bartending practices, as a bar staff member or owner.


Mix up your Cinco de Mayo menu with a Mexican michelada. Similar to the makings of a bloody mary, a michelada is a great, savory option to satisfy your customers.

Gather the ingredients below to make a michelada:

  • Light beer (Mexican beer)
  • Tomato-clam juice
  • Hot sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Sea salt
  • Chili-lime seasoning

Now you’re ready to make a classic michelada. As mentioned before, don’t forget to garnish your cocktails––attention to detail makes mixology more exciting and drinking even tastier.

Cinco de Mayo Food Specials

If you’re feeling inspired by the drink specials above, keep reading for the perfect dishes. From mole to tamales, there are countless traditional Mexican foods you can choose from to serve. But to make things a little easier, we’ve listed out simpler recipes to accommodate any bar or restaurant.


Salsa is a great appetizer and snack. You can make an easy homemade salsa as a light bite to pair with any of the drinks above.

You can make salsa in bulk and keep it fresh in the fridge for up to five days. This means you’re prepared when your customers look for a consistent dip for their chip.


Cinco de Mayo wouldn’t be the same without guacamole. You can wow your customers with a simple and perfect blend of avocados, lime juice, salt, and tomatoes.

To spice things up, you can add other ingredients like jalapeños or fresh fruits like mango and pineapple. You might even make a guacamole flight to pair with your margarita flight.

Nachos Supreme

Crispy chips and melted cheese––it doesn’t get much better than that. Nachos supreme are the perfect snacking option to offer on your Cinco de Mayo menu. Aside from traditional toppings like sour cream, tomatoes, beans, and peppers, give your customers the option to add steak or chicken.

Mexican Street Corn

Packed with flavor, Mexican street corn is a delicious dish to prepare. You can serve it on the cob itself, or make a large batch in a bowl.

Here’s what you’ll need to make Mexican street corn:

  • Fresh corn
  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lime juice
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Queso fresco
  • Cilantro
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Got your ingredients? Now it’s time to make your Mexican street corn that’ll hook your customers after just one bite.

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp ceviche is a light and refreshing dish that’s easy to make and even easier to eat. For the seafood fanatics at your restaurant or bar, you can’t go wrong with shrimp ceviche.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to get started:

  • Shrimp
  • Lime juice
  • Julienne tomato
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin

With just a few ingredients, you can make your shrimp ceviche in no time. For more flavor, consider topping the dish with pico de gallo or smashed avocado.


End the holiday on a sweet note by serving churros. Simultaneously sweet, crunchy, and soft, these cinnamon sugar delicacies are the perfect Cinco de Mayo dessert. 

Paired with chocolate dipping sauce or Nutella, expect your customers to cheer for more churros before the end of the day. When it comes to preparing your Cinco de Mayo specials, prioritize inventory tracking to ensure you have all the ingredients you need.

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Market Your Cinco de Mayo Restaurant Specials

Cinco de Mayo always shows up before you know it. Now that you’ve got the inspiration for the best Cinco de Mayo restaurant specials, it’s time to promote them.

Social media, flyers, and coupons are great places to start. Research the best restaurant keywords and which restaurant marketing strategies you can use to promote your business for Cinco de Mayo! You can even draw inspiration from the top 25 Michelin Star restaurants.

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