5 Restaurants to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Around Ann Arbor

A mexican dish at a restaurant.
Delectable tacos. Photo from @cantinaannarbor on Instagram.

Cinco de Mayo, often mistaken in the U.S. as Mexico’s Independence Day, actually commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. This victory became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination, especially since the Mexican army was vastly outnumbered and poorly equipped compared to the well-armed French forces.

Early celebrations in the U.S.

The celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the United States has its roots in the American Civil War era.

It began with Mexican-American communities in the western states as a way to honor their heritage and show solidarity against French rule in Mexico. These early celebrations were more about political activism and the support of Mexico in its fight against foreign intervention.

Evolution of the tradition

Over the years, Cinco de Mayo has evolved considerably in the U.S. What started as a commemoration full of political significance and cultural pride has transformed into a more generalized celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.

This shift has been marked by festive parades, music, dancing, and, of course, the widespread enjoyment of Mexican cuisine and drinks. 

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However, this transformation has also led to criticisms of commercialization and cultural appropriation, with many pointing out that the deeper historical significance of the day is often overshadowed by the party atmosphere.

It’s important to remember that while enjoying the cultural festivities, acknowledging the historical context and respecting the cultural heritage it represents adds depth to the celebration.

Meaningful ways to celebrate

In addition to enjoying traditional Mexican foods and beverages, learning about the historical events leading to the Battle of Puebla, understanding the significance of the victory and recognizing the cultural contributions of Mexican-Americans are meaningful ways to honor Cinco de Mayo.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the rich tapestry of cultures that shape the United States, including the significant impact of Mexican culture and heritage.

Celebrate locally

Cinco de Mayo is the perfect opportunity to enjoy Mexican cuisine while embracing their culture and festive spirit. We listed a few local restaurants with tasty food and scrumptious drinks where you can celebrate.

Cantina Taqueria + Bar

This spot adds a modern twist to classic Mexican cuisine that boasts local ingredients and gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. They get bonus points for their fast service, karaoke and live performances.

1140 S University Ave, Ann Arbor.

Chapala Mexican Restaurant

They claim that one can “experience authentic Mexican style dishes without leaving Michigan.” The warm and inviting atmosphere provides the perfect setting for enjoying their extensive menu that promises a true taste of Mexico.

211 N Main St, Ann Arbor

Chela’s Restaurant & Taqueria

Elotes from a restaurant.
Mouth watering elotes. Photo from @chelasannarbor on Instagram.

This local restuarant brings its authentic Mexican cuisine to two locations in Ann Arbor and Dexter. They offer a welcoming atmosphere where guests can indulge in traditional dishes like savory tacos and homemade enchiladas. It’s the go-to spot for those looking for genuine flavors and a friendly vibe. 

7065 Dexter Ann Arbor Rd, Dexter

693 S Maple Rd, Ann Arbor.


Cocktails and margaritas from a restaurant.
Scrumptious cocktail choices. Photo from @isalitaa2 on Instagram.

This downtown restaurant captures the spirit of Mexican street food with a vibrant and festive atmosphere. Enjoy their creative cocktails and innovative dishes that put a modern twist on traditional Mexican flavors.

341 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor.

Maiz Mexican Cantina 

A Mexican dish at a restaurant.
Fiesta chipotle salmon salad. Photo from @maizmexicancantina on Instagram.

A favorite spot for both everyday dining and festive occasions thanks to their lively atmosphere complete with colorful décor and live musis. They are known for their generous portions of authentic Mexican dishes.

36 E Cross St, Ypsilanti.

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