Commemorate a Piece of Mexico’s History With These 7 Cinco de Mayo Celebrations
Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, is celebrated throughout parts of Mexico and largely across the United States. Because of San Diego’s history with and proximity to Mexico, Mexican culture has always provided a beautiful enrichment to San Diego’s culinary, architectural and arts scene, making it one of the best places in Southern California to celebrate on May 5. Whether you and your family want to go all out with a huge fiesta or keep it simple and celebrate with a delicious meal and a cerveza, these seven places to celebrate are sure to make your San Diego Cinco de Mayo special.
Comida y Bebida
Located in the heart of Old Town, Cafe Coyote has been serving up beloved regional dishes with fresh, hand-pressed tortillas, hand-crafted drinks and an undeniably festive atmosphere for over 30 years. Want to make a toast with a Corona in hand? We recommend pairing your refreshing cerveza with a Coyote Burrito Plate, birria tacos, the Famous Old Town Carnitas or a plate of sizzling fajitas. ¡Salud!
Local Insight: Can’t make it to this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration? There are plenty of spots throughout San Diego where you can enjoy and pay homage to Mexico’s rich cultural imprint. Stroll through neighborhoods like Old Town and Barrio Logan, look at the display of murals throughout Chicano Park, visit Centro Cultural de la Raza and mark your calendars for annual events like the San Diego Latino Film Festival and Dia de los Muertos.
Location: Old Town San Diego
Karina’s Cantina Gaslamp
If you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo in the Gaslamp this year, head over to Karina’s Cantina for festive vibes, multi-level dining and truly mouthwatering eats. While we absolutely love their world-famous ceviche, the Cielo, Mar y Terra plate, langosta tacos and stuffed avocados, there’s truly no better way to enjoy a celebration than with a Fiesta Platter. These platters serve four people and come with four different options: the seafood tower, the fried seafood platter, the taco platter and the lobster fiesta. Finish it all off by ordering a michelada with an ice-cold Corona (or two), and you’ll really be in the spirit! Can’t make it over to the Gaslamp Quarter? Karina’s Cantina also has locations in Barrio Logan, Otay Ranch, Bonita, National City, Encinitas and Mission Hills.
Location: Gaslamp Quarter
As one of San Diego’s favorite botaneros, grills and cantinas, La Sabrosita makes for the perfect place to enjoy lunch or dinner on Cinco de Mayo. Always decked out with beautiful and festive decor, La Sabrosita prides itself on serving handcrafted food and drinks that are full of authentic Mexican flavors and some unique special touches. La Sabrosita’s menu, which boasts carefully presented dishes from the regional Aztec lands, is full of flavor and tasty bites. We recommend the ceviche de camaron, chicharrones de rib eye, enchiladas suizas and the taco flight—the perfect dishes to wash down with a refreshing Corona. At La Sabrosita, every day is a celebration, and this restaurant proves it with nightly entertainment, weekday and late-night happy hours, Taco Tuesday and Sunday brunch with bottomless mimosas.
Location: Chula Vista
Mariscos, beer and baseball—what’s not to love? If you’re looking to celebrate your Cinco de Mayo with heaping plates of fresh seafood, plan a visit to El Peladito in Chula Vista. With a huge menu and large portions, El Peladito has something for everyone, from pescetarians to carnivores. Enjoy ceviche, fresh oysters, meat dishes, tacos, birria and so much more—-you can even indulge in some sushi rolls with a twist! Our favorites are the jalapeño roll, Hot Cheetos roll and the Peladito VIP roll. Want to celebrate with a Corona Extra? Upgrade your beer with a michelada con mariscos, a michelada or a special clamato.
Location: Chula Vista
Fiestas y Celebraciones
Fiesta Old Town San Diego
From Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 7, Old Town San Diego will be throwing a fiesta in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Known as the ultimate Cinco de Mayo celebration in San Diego, this three-day event will feature tons of family-friendly street performances, delicious food and drinks, mariachis, Folklorico, a bustling mercado and more! Old Town is the living representation of San Diego’s Hispanic heritage from 1821 to 1872, when Mexico gained its independence from Spain. All proceeds go to the Historic Old Town Community Foundation, so the event is an opportunity for sponsors and partners to back outreach, heritage and educational programs that support the history, diversity and conflict resolution of the Old Town School program. This year marks the Fiesta’s 40th year, so you definitely won’t want to miss this!
Location: Old Town San Diego
Cinco de Mayo Party Cruise
A vibrant celebration of Mexican heritage, the William D. Evans—one of only two sternwheeler boats in San Diego—hosts a Cinco de Mayo Cruise on May 5 from 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m., departing from the Bahia Resort. Festivities include two live DJs and a cash bar that features margarita specials! Come celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the water this year! Tickets cost $20 per person. Reservations are required; guests must be 21+.
Location: Mission Bay
Cinco de Mayo Festival at Grape Day Park
Don’t miss Escondido’s Cinco de Mayo celebration! This outdoor live music festival will take place on Sunday, May 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Grape Day Park. The event is free and welcomes people of all ages! Come enjoy a day of music and dancing along with games and prizes for kids and adults. Guests are also encouraged to bring their dogs and dress them up to be in the Hay Chihuahua contest—any pet big or small!
Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.