Cinco de Mayo celebrates the day in 1862 when the Mexican army defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla. In Mexico it is considered a minor holiday. Here it has grown to one of the major days to observe Mexican culture. It has also translated to a dining and drinking holiday.
This year, May 5 falls on a Saturday, meaning you can eat and drink until late and sleep in on Sunday. Whatever you do, drive safe or let professionals drive you. The Uber car service has been a reliable option for me recently.
Born in Latin America, Argentina to be specific, I celebrate Latin culture daily. On Cinco de Mayo I prefer to eschew the crowds at local Mexican cantinas and taquerias and go out for sushi ( in Kirkland for nearly 30 years and the raw bar at are two of my favorite destinations on the Eastside. More on sushi at another time).
If you insist on imbibing on Mexican food, Mexican beer and tequila, here are a few recommendations in the area.
is up to four locations on the Eastisde: Woodinville (), Redmond and two in Bellevue (downtown and Factoria). Confirm hours of operation, as they close early. Alternately, go with the take-out option and enjoy the grub at home with tequila--without having to drive at the end of the night. Ooba Tooba serves Mexican food with a South American twist . Meats are grilled to order. The spicy chipotle pork burro grande is big on flavor and texture.
Tapatio's Mexican Grill is tucked away in a shopping center in Newcastle mere yards from Bellevue. This neighborhood restaurant will kick off the celebration on Friday, May 4, with live music by a Mariachi band from Guadalajara from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Chicken dishes, such as Pollo al Carbon and Mole Poblano, shine. Enchiladas de Mole (choice of beef, chicken or cheese) or the Vegetarian Rellenos (Anaheim peppers stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and vegetables) are other specialties. Friendly service is the exclamation point of the dining experience.
, with 10 locations around the Puget Sound from Tacoma to Everett, is a local chain that has grown steadily. The Bellevue location is at 2255 140th Ave. N.E., just north of Bel-Red Road. Tacos are consistently the best option, in particular steak asada, spicy pork adobada or beef tongue.
is an Old Bellevue mainstay that serves traditional Mexican fare quick. If you can’t decide what to order, go for the Puerco’s Combo, a trio of chile relleno, tamale and a macaha taquito. Weather permitting, snag one of the prime sidewalk tables.
Blocks away on Bellevue Way is , home of large burritos. Their regular burritos are large. Their "Super" burritos are even larger. And the "Super Dooper," well, it’s more than four pounds of burrito.
is another excellent Mexican restaurant, buried in a shopping center in Issaquah. (It's also a in Issaquah and Sammamish.) The traditional Mexican soup posole, carne asada and pork tamales are highly recommended. Tacos with the traditional filling options are served simply in thin corn tortillas.
If Tex-Mex is more your taste, in Kirkland and in Redmond are two reliable options. Both are local chains serving specialty cocktails and extensive food options. Of note, both offer value-driven happy hours.
Bis on Main hosts Andrew Will Winery
Vashon Island-based Andrew Will Winery will be hosting winemaker dinners at in Old Bellevue on Sunday, May 6, at 5:30 p.m. and Monday, May 7, at 6:30 p.m.
Andrew Will assistant winemaker David Oldham will lead guests through a six-course dinner prepared by Bis on Main Chef Shawn Martin. Seven wines, including the 09 Cuvee Lucia Sangiovese, the 08 Cield du Cheval red blend, the 08 Sorella red blend and the 09 Pinot Noir made with grapes from Archery Summit in the Willamette Valley, will be served.
For more information or to register for the $120-a-plate dinner, contact Bis on Main at 425-455-2033 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.