By Candy Pilar Godoy, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Thursday marks Cinco de Mayo (May 5th), the infectious international holiday celebrating Mexican heritage and pride. Although mainly celebrated in Mexico and the United States, the fiesta has moved even further south of the border and into the streets of the Cidade Maravilhosa.
The 5th of May is not Mexican Independence Day, as erroneously assumed by many, but rather the celebration of an unlikely victory by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín over French forces during the Battle of the Puebla in 1862. Soon after, Mexico began to loosely commemorate the event, with much of the celebration taking place in the state of Puebla. People enjoyed a day of battle recreations, festivities and parades.
Over time the party moved up north, as Mexican Americans and Americans alike adopted the day to honor Mexican culture. Celebrants indulge in a harmonious blend of traditional music, food, and dance, while relishing the vibrant culture and colorful way of life. Tequila is sipped, mariachi music is played, and sombreros are donned as revelers stuff their faces with spicy tacos, savory guacamole, and warm enchiladas.
Other regions take the festivities a step further. In Vancouver, Canada enthusiasts hold an annual skydiving event to commemorate, while in the Cayman Islands locals rejoice with a Cinco de Mayo air guitar competition. People as far away as Malta, in the Mediterranean sea, celebrate by enjoying ice cold Coronas.
This Thursday, Cinco de Mayo, Rio de Janeiro will join in on the fun. With a number of bars and restaurants dedicated to Mexican cuisine and drink, it won’t be too hard to find a place to party.
Mexican restaurant Blue Agave in Ipanema promises a good time, and if last year’s party offers any indication, they’re sure to please. “It will be a Cinco de Mayo to remember,” declares co-owner Richard Nelson.
Their 2nd annual Cinco de Mayo fiesta will feature drink and food specials all day and all night, including R$5 Margaritas, with music pumping and tequila flowing. The restaurant expects a mix of Carioca and expat partygoers, and will certainly attract anyone who appreciates Mexican culture.
“Cinco de Mayo is our St. Patty’s Day…our July 4th…our Bastille day…is our day to celebrate Mexico, its food, its culture, its TEQUILA,” explains Nelson.
Rota 66, a restaurant chain specializing in Tex-Mex cuisine, is also a viable option. With locations in Botafogo, Ipanema, and Leblon, as well as a site in Tijuca for Zona Norte revelers, the restaurant will be easy to access from various parts of the city. They will be offering an array of Tex-Mex dishes, including nachos, fajitas, and quesadillas, as well as traditional margaritas. Mega drink sizes will be available for large groups or hard partiers.
Barra da Tijuca holds a number of options for Cinco de Mayo party-goers as well. Try Taco Tequila on Avenida Olegário Maciel for live music and a buy-three-get-one-free deal on tequila shots. Another great option is Taco & Chilli, with two Zona Oeste locations, one in Recreio dos Bandeirantes and another in Barra da Tijuca, which offer rodizio in decorative settings.
Jack Tequila on Avenida das Americas offers thirteen different types of burritos, as well as Mexican beers Sol and Dos Equis, while customers at El Pallomar in Shopping Barra Point can eat classic Mexican cuisine while enjoying views of Tijuca on an outdoor deck.
While Rio may be in a different hemisphere, there are still plenty of opportunities to join in on the international fiesta and celebrate the rich and vibrant culture of Mexico.