Get ready to add some spice to your life because Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. Luckily, Baltimore has plenty of restaurants to satisfy your cravings for Mexican food and margaritas. From table-side guacamole to homemade tortillas, there’s no shortage of delicious options to make your Cinco de Mayo fiesta unforgettable. So, let’s take a tour of the best spots in town to celebrate this festive occasion.
225 W. 23rd St., Baltimore
Looking to elevate your Cinco de Mayo celebrations from “meh” to “ay caramba!”? Hit up Clavel in Remington, where they make fresh daily corn and flour tortillas that will have you saying, “Holy guacamole!” Start with the must-try ceviche and queso con chorizo, and make sure to save room for the real star of the show — the tacos. From beef tongue to roasted mushroom, these unique flavor combos are unlike any other you’ll experience in the city.
200 International Drive, Baltimore
Ready to taco ‘bout a fiesta? Join Maximon restaurant in Harbor East for a Cinco de Mayo celebration like no other. With stunning waterfront views of the harbor and a patio that will make you question whether or not you’re still in Baltimore, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a hidden oasis. And don’t forget about the extensive selection of tequila and mezcal to keep the party going. Warning: You may need a siesta after.
6318 Sherwood Road, Baltimore (Food Truck)
If you’re looking to experience a fiesta in your mouth, look no further than Mex on the Run. Whether you catch them at their food truck in Towson or their spot at the Pennsylvania Dutch Market in Cockeysville, their food will have you shouting, “Olé!” While their birria tacos are the best in town, the real pièce de résistance is “El Chapo,” a 14-inch burrito packed with every pork preparation possible (think: al pastor, carnitas and chorizo). And for a taste of Baltimore-meets-Mexico, the “Bmore Quesadilla” — filled with lump crab, shrimp and Old Bay sour cream — is a must-order.
253 S. Broadway, Baltimore
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo, but want something a little more low key? Stop by Cocina Luchadores, a small but mighty counter-serve restaurant in Upper Fells Point. Their menu is packed with classic Mexican dishes like tacos, quesadillas, tortas and churros. But if you’re feeling extra crazy, try one of their “tortas locas” like “La Cubana,” a meat-lover’s torta made with thinly breaded chicken breast, chorizo, al pastor, ham, turkey sausage, mayonnaise, a spread of refried beans, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, and your choice of pickled jalapeños or chipotle.
2907 O’Donnell St., Baltimore
Spice things up at Nacho Mamas in Canton, where Cinco de Mayo specials include $5 Graceland margaritas, $5 tequila sunrises, $5 Mexican cherry bombs, $2 Corona ponies and $20 buckets of beer. But if you’re looking for something más grande, order one of their famous (and Elvis-themed) hubcap margaritas that are so big you’ll need a group of friends to help you finish. And be sure to bring your appetite, because when it comes to quesadillas, there’s no competition. I always order two: BBQ chicken and seafood.
1716 Eastern Ave., Baltimore
Get your Cinco de Mayo fix at Tortilleria Sinaloa, a neighborhood gem in Fells Point that’s been slinging fresh and scratch-made Mexican eats since 2002. At this walk-up counter eatery, you can’t go wrong with the specialties, such as their fish tacos slathered in Old Bay butter or the juicy meats that are sold by the pound. Pro tip: Brush up on your Spanish to order like a true insider.
Various Locations (Fells Point, Hampden and Towson)
You can’t spell “fiesta” without “feast,” and that especially holds true at Papi’s Tacos, the ultimate Cinco de Mayo destination, whose celebrations on May 5 include a mariachi band (5 p.m. at all locations), $40 margarita pitchers and $15 beer buckets. Start your meal with their mouth-watering table-side guacamole and a variety of salsas that will make your tastebuds … salsa. Feeling adventurous? Build your own street tacos, and don’t forget to end the night with some Mexican fried ice cream. And if you wake up craving more tacos the next day, feel free to blame me.
1032 Light St., Baltimore
Searching for a Cinco de Mayo celebration that’s hotter than a jalapeño? Look no further than Blue Agave in Federal Hill. Their tequila club is sure to get the party started, while the Sundae en Fuego — an ice cream sundae that is flambéed tableside — is the perfect way to cool down. And don’t forget about their spicy habanero chicken wings — some of my favorites in the city.
Various Locations (Federal Hill, Towson, Columbia, Maple Lawn and White Marsh)
This year, get ready to fiesta at Banditos. With five locations across Baltimore, there’s no excuse not to join in on the Cinco de Mayo fun. Enjoy live entertainment, giveaways and prizes, and contests throughout the day (check each location for details). And of course, indulge in delicious tequila and tacos — the cheeseburger and chicken tinga are must-trys.
1629 Thames St., Baltimore
Put on your party shoes and head over to Barcocina in Fells Point for a day of Cinco de Mayo fun. Not only do they have panoramic harbor views, but they’re also shaking things up with their fresh juice-infused drinks and cocktails. And let’s not forget about their chips with guacamole and queso black bean dip, which help set the base for the rest of the day. They’ll have a live DJ to keep the party going all night long, so grab your amigos and head to Barcocina to get your “guac” on.
Chris Franzoni is a Baltimore native, resident, food fanatic and “Eater-in-Chief” of @EatMoreBeMore, which he started eight years ago with two goals — eating his way through the city and shining a positive light on the Baltimore-area restaurant and hospitality scene.