Five Places to Fiesta on Cinco de Mayo
Original blog by Jen Brignall-Strong of Tailgate Takeout
Just as everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, we all get to be a little Mexican on Cinco de Mayo. While the holiday is traditionally celebrated to commemorate an 1862 military victory over the French, the rest of North America has adopted it as a day to honour Mexican culture and their delicious contributions to the culinary world. As if you ever really needed an excuse to eat tacos.
Around Windsor-Essex, we’re fortunate to have so many amazing spots to celebrate the day with fabulous food and cocktails. Whether you’re craving authentic Mexican fare or looking for unique fusion dishes offering a twist on the classics, our local Mexican restaurant scene features something for everyone.
Searching for a place to fiesta Thursday May 5th (or any day — because tacos are always delicious)? Here are a few of my favourites across the area…
429 Wyandotte St. East, Windsor
Located in Downtown Windsor, Mi Casita has been one of my go-to spots for authentic Latin cuisine for years. Specializing in fresh, made-to-order Mexican and Salvadorian dishes including tacos, burritos, pupusas, and the ultra-popular birria tacos, their food is consistently amazing. I also love the welcoming atmosphere and the staff is always so friendly. Another bonus? The complimentary warm tortilla chips and salsa while you mull over your meal choices.
Want to start your meal on a cheesy note? Be sure to order a queso flameado; Mexican beef sausage crumble and melted mozzarella served with tortillas or nachos.
Their extensive menu offers great value and great options. Can’t decide what to order? With the Casita Combination, you don’t have to. Have it your way and choose three items between tacos, enchiladas, sopes (tostadas), quesadillas, and flautas. Your customized combo comes served with their amazing seasoned rice and refried beans and if you’re able to finish your meal, you probably won’t need to eat for the rest of the week.
Their drink menu completes the experience, with a variety of Mexican beers and tequilas, as well as refreshing cocktails.
For Cinco de Mayo, the restaurant has a full day of fun planned starting at noon, with extended hours, a DJ and of course, fresh lime margaritas and delicious Latin cuisine. Bring your appetite and your dancing shoes!
16 Main St. West, Kingsville
Wherever you live in Essex County, it’s worth the drive to Kingsville to visit El Diablo. Like seriously; get in the car right now. Their tacos are life changing.
El Diablo is not what you’d call a traditional Mexican restaurant, but rather a place to enjoy delicious tacos, globally inspired food, and handcrafted cocktails. I love the hibiscus margarita; so refreshing and fruity.
The attention to detail in each dish is just so impressive. Everything is plated beautifully and the flavours are so balanced. I’m pretty sure I shed tears of joy the first time I bit into their tuna tartare taco. It was like sushi and tacos came together in perfect harmony. The al pastor and carne asada tacos are equally yummy, and they have a variety of other meat and vegan taco options as well.
They also focus on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. How local? While sitting at my table, I saw the owner walk across the street to The Butcher of Kingsville to pick up a meat order. You can’t get much fresher than that.
Visiting on Cinco de Mayo? Take advantage of their regular Thursday special: free chips and salsa with the purchase of a margarita pitcher. Their fresh cut chips and house made salsa are addictive, so trust me; it’s a good investment.
A feature especially for the occasion is a fun play on Mexican street corn: Buffalo Elote Chicken Wings. Crispy wings tossed in Buffalo sauce, crema, queso cotija, cilantro and tajin spice. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m going to go ahead and assume they’re amazing.
13454 Tecumseh Rd. East, Tecumseh
Celebrating at home with la familia? El Patron Mexican Grill in Tecumseh serves up amazing feasting options to feed a crowd.
In addition to their traditional taco box and new birria taco box, they’ll be offering a special fiesta taco box to mark the occasion.
Their Cinco de Mayo fiesta taco box includes a ring of 15 tacos with a guacamole in the centre and fresh tortilla chips. Choose your taco protein (I always include the chorizo and al pastor) and guac spice level (I wimp out with the mild, but they’ll also do it medium or spicy.)
Craving something different? Browse their regular menu for a mouth-watering selection of authentic Latin American cuisine including enchiladas, tortas (Mexican sandwiches), and burritos. There are a few fun Tex-Mex style creations as well including chimichangas, puffy tacos, and Chori-fries: crispy French fries topped with cheese sauce, sour cream, pico de gallo, and crumbled chorizo. A next level fries supreme.
They’ll even be serving homemade two authentic speciality drinks that day: pineapple Agua Fresca and Horchata, a traditional Mexican rice beverage sweetened with cinnamon and sugar. If you’ve never tried it, be sure to order two: one for the car ride home, and a second one for when you realize it’s one of the most delicious things you’ve ever had.
THE GRAND CANTINA
1000 Drouillard Road, Windsor
(Editor’s Note: The Grand Cantina is temporarily closed and will re-open soon at their new location in Walkerville!) Winner of the 2022 Best of Windsor-Essex Awards for “Best Taco Joint” and consistently ranked as one of the top taco spots in Windsor, The Grand Cantina is a no-brainer. Not only do they have delicious food, it’s also just a super fun place to hang out; with a vibrant atmosphere and stunning Dia de los Muertos patio mural by DERKZ.
While not a traditional Mexican restaurant, this Ford City favourite offers an eclectic menu of Mexican street eats and unique taco creations with Latin and Asian influences. Every time I visit (which is pretty often) I always have such a hard time deciding what to order because I basically want one of everything. A few of my “must have” items? Duck fat fries, street corn fritters, and their Naaaaccchhhoooo Libre nachos piled high with Mexican cheese, pico de gallo, queso, lettuce, scallions, and your choice of protein.
Of course, you need to eat the tacos. They have nearly a dozen to choose from and you can mix and match your own little combo. The barbacoa is a personal favourite, as is the new pineapple chorizo. They also have two delicious vegan options, as well as chicken, carnitas, mahi mahi, shrimp, and even duck. They’re all perfect as is, but if you want to kick it up a notch in the heat department, be sure to ask about their homemade hot sauces (I recommend the dill pickle…mind-blowing.)
They also feature a fun drink menu with plenty of options including cocktails, Mexican and local beers, tequila tasting flights, and non-alcoholic choices like agua fresca, Jarritos, and zero-proof margaritas. Special for Cinco de Mayo, they’ll be mixing up pineapple margaritas with Teremana Tequila (a small batch tequila by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.)
Chicano’s Tacos & Tequila
219 Dalhousie Street, Amherstburg
**EDITOR’S NOTE: Chicano’s has closed since the time of this writing.**
If you plan on celebrating Cinco de Mayo at Chicano’s, I have two words for you: come hungry.
This historic house-turned-restaurant is serving up amazing authentic Mexican cuisine with their own special spin on the traditional, including a variety of tacos served a la carte and topped with cilantro and onions, or “Canadian-ized” with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and cilantro crema. They also offer other favorites including enchiladas, fajitas, burrito bowls, tostadas, and a “nacho average” pizza.
I really enjoy the warm, laid back vibe of this place; a great spot to sip a margarita and catch up with friends as you dig into an appetizer and await your feast. I suggest starting with the ooey, gooey Chicano’s Cheese; spicy Mexican chorizo sausage melted with a three cheese blend and served with warm tortillas.
I love ordering their Don Ray burrito as well, but I must warn you: it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s layers on layers of flavour with cheese, guacamole, grilled peppers, onions, cilantro crema, and ultra-tender carne asada. It’s so big they need THREE tortillas to roll it all up and you probably need at least two stomachs to eat it. I usually manage to make it through half of a half before I decide to wrap the rest up for leftovers. Pro tip: it also made a pretty excellent breakfast the next day.