By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Cinco de Mayo (May 5th), often confused with Mexican Independence Day, is a celebration of Mexican pride and heritage and one of the few festivals of its kind that is celebrated worldwide – although mainly in the United States. Food and drink are the focal point of Cinco de Mayo, and the idea is that people can join in and share traditional Mexican cuisine together.
In view of this, Aglika Angelova, co-owner of popular Mexican restaurant Azteka on Ipanema’s Rua Visconde de Pirajá, has been busy preparing a new menu to honor the special day.
Known for its simple authentic Mexican food, specifically the burritos and tortas (Mexican sandwiches), to celebrate the day, Azteka will offer a “special Mexican burger, with avocados, jalapeños, corn chips with chipotle sour cream, and green salad.”
Customers joining in the festivities can also take advantage of special promotions, such as two-for-one margaritas from 5PM to 10PM and a free dessert for, as it is May 5th, every fifth customer.
Elsewhere, popular Mexican bar and restaurant Blue Agave, with locations in both Ipanema and Copacabana, will be putting on their usual annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. This year beginning at 4PM, the Blue Agave in Ipanema will host the Blue Agave Fiesta, with live music plus food and drink specials. At the Copacabana location, along with a special Cinco de Maio menu, guests will also be offered free jello shots to commemorate the day.
Also this year, the American Society of Rio de Janeiro (AmSoc Rio) has partnered with the U.S. Consul General, Jimmy Story and his wife Susan Story. Aiming to engage with the local community while supporting a worthy cause (with a R$175 entrance), in addition to being a celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the event will be a fundraiser in support of Art & Social Transformation.
“I believe its the first and the biggest Cinco de Mayo event that AmSoc Rio has ever done and its completely sold out,” organizer Anna Whyte told The Rio Times. “When AmSoc Rio and Jimmy and Susan Story got together to plan a fundraiser for Art & Social Transformation, May 5th seemed a great date to tap into a much-loved tradition in the States.”
Whyte adds, “Finding an excellent Mexican Chef in Rio was difficult as there are not many places for Mexican cuisine in Rio and most are small and not geared up for catering for an event with 100+ guests […] We reached out to the Mexican Consulate in Rio and found them to be enormously supportive and with great contacts. The Mexican Consul General – Linda Marina Munive, recommended that we contact Mexican Chef, Juan Carlos Garcia Gonzalez, who lives in Rio and has prepared authentic Mexican cuisine for the consulate.”
If celebrating out sounds like a little too much festa, one can still commemorate Cinco de Mayo in style by cooking up a traditional Mexican feast at home. Most of the ingredients necessary such as tortillas, chorizo, black beans and much more can be bought easily at any of the supermarkets like Zona Sul or Pão de Açúcar whilst recipes can be found on the internet.
Following are some recommended Mexican Restaurants and Bars in Rio:
Blue Agave Copa – Rua Aires Saldanha, 21- Copacabana
Blue Agave Ipanema – Rua Vinicius de Moraes, 68. Ipanema
Azteka – Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 156 – Ipanema
La Calaca – Av. Ataulfo de Paiva, 1240 – Loja B – Leblon
Guacamole – Rua Jardim Botânico, 129 – Jardim Botânico