Margaritas at Pistola's (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

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Cinco de Mayo falls on a Friday this year, so it’s fiestas galore for Philadelphia, which at one point reportedly laid claim to the largest celebration outside of Mexico. 

The holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, which saw Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza lead the Mexican army to victory over ostensibly stronger forces of the French occupation. It’s a bigger deal in the U.S. than in our neighbor to the south, but few restaurants and bars will turn down the opportunity for a good party.

Whether you’re looking to expend energy with a piñata-bashing, chill out with a relaxed margarita-appropriate dinner, or are simply on the prowl for free guac or churros, there are plenty of options to celebrate around Philly.

Cantina la Martina

Chef Dionicio Jimenez at Cantina La Martina (Instagram/

Dionicio Jimenez is pulling out all the stops at his Kensington restaurant, with live music, piñatas, a barbacoa pit, and a special celebratory menu. The James Beard Foundation finalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic will be serving chicken wings, pork and beef ribs, goat and beef barbacoa tacos, chicharron, and esquites, along with a selection of Mexican beers, classic and frozen margaritas, and paletas. Larger groups might want to consider the Puebla la Vida special; a mixed ceviche of scallops, crab, tuna, tilapia, octopus, and shrimp that comes with a six-pack of beer ($100, meant for six). 

The cantina opens at 11 a.m. with family-friendly activities beginning once schools let out. A cumbia-focused DJ set starts at 6 p.m. followed by a live performance by La Carcaña later in the evening.

2800 D Street | 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, May 5 | No reservations | Outdoor seating available (weather permitting)

El Merkury

Double the cincos to celebrate. El Merkury’s Chestnut Street location celebrates its fifth anniversary, and to mark the occasion the owners will give out 555 free churros from a bike in front of the store — as long as supplies last. Festivities continue with a DJ set beginning at 6 p.m..

2104 Chestnut St. | 11 a.m. until supplies run out, Friday, May 5

Revolution Taco

This Center City taqueria will be offering complimentary churros with each order placed throughout the day. Keep an eye open for the Revolution Tacos bike around Rittenhouse Square Park from 11 to 11:30 a.m. and Washington Square Park from 1:30 to 2 p.m. — it’ll be full of free chips and salsa.

2015 Walnut St. | 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Gaul & Co. Malt House

How much guac do you think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can eat in a single sitting? Like, if his life depended on it? No answers here, just something to ponder over free house-made guac with every purchase of The Rock’s Termana Tequila. Taco specials, $4 Modelos, and live entertainment round out the day-long festivities.

2619 E Indiana Avenue & 704 Huntingdon Pike, Rockledge | 11 to 2 a.m. Friday, May 5

Pistola’s Del Sur

A packed house at Pistolas Del Sur for the March edition of #bpquizzo (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

Marking the occasion with its first ever block party, this East Passyunk taqueria will be bringing out an array of snacks for what promises to be a raucous event — as long as it doesn’t rain. BBQ carnitas and soy chorizo sandwiches will be available for $5 each, and for drinks there’s Trouble’s End Brewing Concheros (a Mexican lager; $7) plus $8 margs. Live entertainment will be provided by DJ Marc Faletti of Latchkey records.

East Passyunk Avenue from Broad & McKean to Juniper | 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 5 (will be canceled if raining)


Center City’s neon-soaked restaurant and tequila bar will venture out in the sunlight for a day-long block party, bringing servings of $7 street corn, $9 walking tacos, and an $18 pineapple bowl with chicken, rice, habanero corn salad & beans. Drink specials include a $9 house margarita, $30 Corona bucket, $19 frozen margarita in pineapple, and a $17 palm tree frozen margarita. Live DJ sets begin at 4 p.m., with the party moving indoors at 8 p.m.

12th & Sansom | 2 p.m. to midnight Friday, May 5 | Free to attend, food/drink pay-as-you-go

Sor Ynéz

A new spring menu from chef Alex Tellez is the star of this celebration, with large dishes ranging from carrots y mole ($18) to a heritage pork carnitas platter ($26) and lamb barbacoa ($35), alongside a collection of smaller plates – root vegetable aguachile ($15), queso fresco ($15) and mussels a la diabla ($16), to name a few. A special selection of Cazadores and Two Robbers-focused drinks will also be available, with a live DJ set from 7 to 9 p.m.

1800 N American St. | 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 5 | Walk-ins/reservations

Red Owl Tavern

Margaritas at Red Owl Tavern (Instagram/@redowltavern)

Margaritas on Independence Mall! Both Pineapple and Paloma variations ($13 each) will be served at this modern American tavern, along with two tequila-centric cocktails. Strawberry Corralejo, Aperol, basil agave, and lime collide in the Garden Smash ($15), while the Picosa ($16) spices things up with Jalapeño Ilegal, Ancho Reyes Verde, grilled pineapple, mango, and lime.

433 Chestnut St. | 7:30 to 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

The Barnes 

The museum’s Garden dining room is swapping out its traditional American cuisine for a one-night-only Mexican-inspired menu offering campechanas ($17), tofu tacos and shrimp tostadas ($18 each), chicken tamales ($19), as well as a spicy blood orange margarita ($12) and a Mexican chile hot chocolate ($9). Coinciding with First Friday, it’s also an opportunity to catch a live performance at the Barnes, this time by Grammy-nominated South African musician and bandleader Sharon Katz.

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway | 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 5 | Reservations recommended | Outdoor seating available (weather permitting)

CO-OP Restaurant & Bar

West Philly imbibers can head to this open-air University City restaurant for its quartet of cinco-specific sweet and smoky cocktails. Soft Hands caresses your senses with Coding tequila, grapefruit, and Aperol, in contrast to the gochujang-tinged sparkling Backup with Altos Respasado and lime. The Project Car mixes cilantro, pineapple, and lime with Del Maguey Vida while the (un)Usual Suspect ($6; the rest are all $7) combines Altos tequila with Topo Chico and lime. Festive snacks are also included on the one-day menu, such as blistered Shisito peppers served with lemon vinaigrette ($6).

20 S. 33rd St. | 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Sunday

Update, May 4: The food and drink deals at the Pistolas Del Sur block party have been updated. We apologize for the error.

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Ali MohsenFood & Drink Reporter

Ali Mohsen is Billy Penn's food and drink reporter.