Places to Celebrate the Most American of Mexican Days

Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May, is a day worth celebrating, but not for what you think. Many folks confuse the holiday with Mexican Independence Day, which occurs on September 16. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the win of the Battle of Pueblo, an unlikely victory by the Mexican army over France during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862. Mexico gained independence more than 40 years before this battle took place. Most places in Mexico don’t even celebrate Cinco de Mayo — banks, schools, and offices remain open. The tradition mostly exists in the U.S., and we’ve gathered a list of some of the best food and fiestas here in the North Sound to celebrate the Mexican culture that influences us.


Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, founder Jesse Cantu brings authentic Mexican flavors and inspiration to everything in all three Northwest locations. Not only is food part of the experience, but so is celebrating family and life. Join in on the fun on Cinco de Mayo and order a “Big Mama” margarita.

Locations vary, Bellingham


Try the burritos famed food critic Alton Brown referred to as “the size of a small cat.” Go for their famous potato burrito, which is stuffed with, beans, cheese, and charred potato pieces. As Brown himself says, “It doesn’t sound good, but it is.”

1415 Railroad Ave., Bellingham
360.756.8226 |


For a celebratory special, check out the Cinco de Mayo menu. Try the featured exclusive drinks like South of the Border, Sayulita, and El Beso de Virginia, which all pair perfectly with the also-exclusive fish tacos.

4260 Mitchell Way, Bellingham
360.398.6191 |


El Gitano prides itself on being authentic to old Mexico, boasting attributes both in décor and food. Every year for Cinco de Mayo, it hosts a big party including everything from trivia and games with prizes to a mariachi band. Each year is different, but one thing that remains consistent is that this is my favorite Mexican food around — high accolades from this former Texan.

Locations vary in Bellingham, Mount Vernon, La Conner, Burlington


Offering vegetarian, vegan, and glutenfree options, this authentic Mexican restaurant is sure to please the entire family. The name “coa” comes from the tool used to harvest the agave plant for tequila production. This name inspired the 100 percent agave tequila selections the restaurant serves.

102 S. 10th St., Mount Vernon
360.840.1938 |


Rarely open on Sundays, an exception had to be made for this Cinco de Mayo. Chef Raul uses fresh ingredients in all his dishes, which are inspired by his childhood in Mexico. Stop by between 4 p.m.–8 p.m. to try the “best mole outside Oaxaca.”

310 A St., Eastsound
360.376.6722 |


Grab a seat on the patio and celebrate Cinco with tacos inspired by “mom’s” Spanish home cooking flavor. If you’re more the party-at-home type, Tina’s offers take-out orders. If you’re throwing a big Cinco de Mayo fiesta, they’re proud to offer catering for gatherings of any size.

485 Elsworth Ave., Friday Harbor
360.842.3228 |

Other Great Cinco Spots

Lilia’s Mexican Cuisine

190 E. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham

California Tacos & Fresh Juices

4252 Cordata Pkwy., Bellingham

Chihuahua Family Mexican Restaurant

5694 3rd Ave., Ferndale

Taqueria La Bamba

2222 Riverside Dr., Mount Vernon


14003 Gilmore Ave., Bow

Mi Casita Mexican Restaurant

680 Spring St., Friday Harbor

Chimayo En El Dia

112 Haven Rd., Eastsound

For more like this, check out this month’s Mixing Tin for Northwater’s El Beso de Virginia here.

"We’ve gathered a list of some of the best food and fiestas here in the North Sound to celebrate the Mexican culture that influences us."