I love any excuse to eat Hispanic foods, but I especially love a Cinco de Mayo celebration. However, the Social Studies teacher in me feels the need to remind everyone that this is an American made-up holiday and not one that is actually celebrated in Mexico. But, it is still fun and I still love love a good celebration, so here are my seven favorite places to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in downtown Raleigh. I selected seven restaurants in downtown Raleigh that are just a short walk (or Lyft ride) away.
Cantina 18 has been open for 8 years now, and has been one of my tried and true favorite restaurants in Raleigh. I love their shrimp tacos and their skinny margarita is definitely my go-to order. However, I love asking their bartender to whip up a drink, too. Their patio and second floor porch are amazing options for spring weather. I also appreciate the nod to the locally sourced food with the murals on the wall. P.S. they have a private event space perfect for hosting showers & work functions, and a new catering menu that is absolutely delicious.
Order: Guacamole & Chips, Shrimp Tacos, Skinny Margarita
Hours: 11:00AM-10:00PM, Saturday & Sunday brunch served until 2:00PM
Centro is such a unique spot in downtown Raleigh. It has an eclectic vibe on the interior with a delicious menu. Start with their chips and salsa con queso and a Margarita del Gallo. If it’s a pretty night, sit outside on their patio. It’s a great people watching spot and a lovely spot to enjoy downtown Raleigh.
Order: Chips and Salsa con Queso, Carnitas or Del Sur Tacos, Margarita del Gallo
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30-2:30 and 5:30-9:30, Friday & Saturday 11:30-2:30 and 5:30-10:30, closed Sundays
El Rodeo is on my favorite Triangle chain restaurants. It is delicious, quick, and casual, which is perfect for a last minute meeting with friends. They also happen to have my favorite traditional dishes you find at Tex-Mex restaurants. I love the location of the downtown Raleigh restaurant and their queso is out of this world.
Order: Chips & Queso, House Margarita, ACP
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:00AM-10:00PM, Friday 11:00AM-11:00PM, Saturday 11:00AM-10:30PM, Sunday 11:00AM-9:30PM
This is one of my favorite spots to meet my girlfriend Em for a cocktail. It’s on the second floor of the building where Centro is, and their cocktail list is absolutely amazing. I love the vibe and their roof top bar is such a pretty one in downtown Raleigh. It is one of my favorite spots for girls nights, for sure.
Order: Cactus Flower, Guac & Queso, Veggie Fajita Bowl
Hours: Monday-Thursday 6:00PM-12:00AM, Friday-Saturday 6:00PM-2:00AM, closed Sundays
My love for Gonza is too real. There is one near my office, and it is one of my favorite places to go if I have time to go out for lunch. I am obsessed with their shrimp tacos (are you noticing a trend here?), their queso, and their cocktails. I love their iconic interior decor and their servers always have great recommendations. Take their word on the specials! There are a ton of locations in Raleigh & Durham, but I do love the Hillsborough one so much.
Order: Queso Picoso, Camarón Tacos, House Margarita or bartender’s recommendation
Hours: Monday-Friday 11:30AM-2:00PM; Monday-Thursday 5:00-9:30PM, Friday 5:00PM-10:PM, Saturday 11:30AM-10:00PM, Sunday 11:30AM-8:30PM
The decor, the patio, the location, and the menu make this such an awesome spot. I have long loved this spot, even just for a happy hour and snack spot with coworkers. Their guacamole is my favorite in Raleigh and I love their eclectic drink menu. It is definitely a fun spot and it is hard not to leave in great spirits with all the natural lighting, spunk of the servers, and delicious food.
Order: Chips & Guacamole, Quesadillas, House Margarita
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11:30AM-9:00PM, Friday-Saturday 11:30AM-10:00PM, Sunday & Monday closed
XOCO is located on Glenwood South, and is hosting a Cinco de Mayo block party. I love the location of this restaurant and the fun vibe that it offers. I can only imagine how fun the block party is going to be just based on the regular dining experience. XOCO offers great drink specials each day and I love their empanadas for an appetizer and their chimichangas.
Order: Empanadas, Chimichangas, Sangria Rita
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00AM-11:00PM and Friday-Saturday 11:00AM-2:00AM
Where is your favorite spot to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
Photos by Glory Roze Photography