San Diego

Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. However, often times it’s mistaken to be the country’s Independence Day (which is September 16th). While it is still honored in Mexico, especially in the city of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo has grown more popular in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be May 5th to honor Mexican culture — especially in San Diego, where the food, art, and Mexican way of life are celebrated year-round. Here are a few ways to get a taste of the city’s Mexican side.

Eat Delicious Tacos

Tacos, beans, and quesadillas at Lola 55. Photo by David Chan

You can throw a rock from anywhere in San Diego and hit a Mexican food place. But if you really want to delight your taste buds, you’ll consider these taco treats served on fresh, handmade tortillas:

Lola 55

It took years of research and development to build this East Village eatery serving tacos and cocktails. Owner and retired professional soccer player Frank Vizcarra named the restaurant after his mother. Chef Drew Bent uses a unique combination of fresh ingredients to celebrate tradition while practicing culinary innovation. The Smoked Carnitas Taco with pork shoulder confit, shaved tomatillos and avocado mousse is a must-try. Furthermore, their Lola Margarita with grapefruit cordial and pasilla (pepper) salt rim is a perfect compliment. Save room for the fresh-fried churros with caramel sauce!

Tacos El Gordo

This no-frills spot serves authentic Tijuana-style tacos and has seven locations throughout San Diego and Las Vegas. They offer a wide variety of fillings including exotic options like lengua (tongue) and tripa (tripe). But their most popular offering is the adobada, a spiced pork that’s trimmed off a rotating spit (similar to gyros). Accompaniments include roasted chili peppers and grilled green onions.

¡Salud!

This widely-popular taco shop is located in the historic Barrio Logan neighborhood, also known for it’s art scene. Popular tacos include the Barrio, with simmered beef and cactus, and the Chile Relleno, a deep-fried poblano pepper stuffed with cheese. They also offer a nice assortment of side dishes, desserts, and alcoholic refreshments. The San Diego Taco Company, a local family business, founded ¡Salud! and have been in San Diego since the early 1900s.

Appreciate Art

Photo by @jortegadesign

Chicano Park

Chicano Park is also located in Barrio Logan, the city’s oldest Mexican-American neighborhood. Underneath the intersection of the San Diego Freeway and the Coronado Bridge live stunning artworks that arch overhead. It’s home to the highest concentration of Chicano murals in the world and it’s the heart of the neighborhood’s emerging arts district. Other local art stops include La Bodega Gallery, Chicano Art Gallery, and The IN Gallery.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park has a countless amount of museums and art to admire, including some original Diego Rivera paintings at the San Diego Museum of Art. But one of their newest attractions is their Cinco de Mayo Celebration, which In their second year. This seven-hour, family-friendly event celebrates Mexican music, art, and culture throughout the central plaza and organ pavilion. A long list of entertainment includes traditional folk dances, live music, and an equestrian procession.

Celebrate With Others

Photo by Matt Farrington

Fiesta Old Town

Old Town dates back to the 1700s and it’s San Diego’s oldest settled area. On Cinco de Mayo, they have a free, three-day festival that showcases the area’s rich history. There’s live entertainment, children’s activities and food specials. Additionally, there will be a low-rider auto showcase and lucha libre wrestling matches. Even if it isn’t a holiday, Old Town is a historic area worthy of a visit any time of year.

Other fun event options include the Tacos & Tequila Fest and Cinco by the Bay  Because San Diego usually has great weather year-round, we like being outside. Most importantly, we love to be around our friends and family enjoying good food and drink.