Top Restaurants For Cinco De Mayo In Connecticut

April 16, 2014 9:00 AM

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

Contrary to what most Americans not of Mexican descent believe, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. It is instead more like Bunker Hill, in that it marks the defense of the embattled city of Puebla from a foreign army – in this case the French of Napoleon III and his stooge, Maximillian, whom he placed on the throne of Mexico. The battle, fought on May 5 (hence the cinco and the Mayo), 1862, was a bloody affair and a short-lived victory for the Mexican patriots, as the French came back with a vengeance and later sacked the town and butchered its inhabitants. Mexicans and their descendants and friends around the world honor the courage of the defenders of Puebla every year on the 5th of May – usually by eating, drinking, dancing and singing along to loud and joyful music – most of which can be done at each of these five great restaurants in Connecticut.

Tequila Mockingbird
6 Forest St.
New Canaan, CT 06840
(203) 966-2222

Only 20 restaurants in the entirety of the 50 states north of the Rio Grande can boast of being certified by the prestigious Consejo Regulador del Tequila of Mexico – and Tequila Mockingbird in New Canaan is one of them. It is hard to find a more authentic or appropriate place in Connecticut to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The food is excellent and plentiful, but the real glory of Tequila Mockingbird is on display behind the bar – where 170 brands of tequilas and mescals are on display. Prices range from the easily affordable to the sinfully extravagant “ultra premium” and “lo major de lo major” brands, which can cost up to $75 a shot. For those who prefer their tequila in a margarita, the house favorite “Original” is hard to beat – and costs a tenth of what a single shot of the top-shelf brand goes for.

Iguanas Ranas Taquería 
484 Main St.
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 346-8630

For those who want a family-friendly Cinco de Mayo – or just a solid, hearty homestyle Mexican meal – Iguanas Ranas Taqueria in Middletown is an excellent choice. The meals are very affordable and served “con sader casero” style – or what Americans call “family style.” The tortas are the pride and glory here, and come in several varieties, including pork loin and chorizo as well as the more common chicken, cheese or steak. Patrons can build their own by ordering combinations of any of the above, and by adding lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, refried beans and the creamy chipotle mayo that is provided with every order. Those who want a truly authentic Cinco de Mayo can add verde or arbol sauce for a small additional charge.

Related: Best Mexican Cuisine

La Poblanita
1660 Park Ave.
Bridgeport, CT 06604
(203) 384-2377

With traditional live music provided on the weekends, La Poblanita has become a favorite party restaurant for those who love all things Mexican in Bridgeport. It is even more crowded on Cinco de Mayo, and not just because of the music and margaritas. The food at La Poblanita is wonderful, and the place is famous for its signature dish: tacos al pastor (which means tacos shepherd style). Rarely found this side of the Southwest, it is made from pork marinated in chilies and pineapples. The fruit breaks down and tenderizes the meat, adding a sweet touch to the savory flavor of the meats and spices.

350 Boston Post Road
Orange, CT 06477
(203) 891-0522

Cinco de Mayo is a big day at Ola, a Mexican restaurant in Orange that prides itself for its “Nuevo Latino” cuisine. There are plenty of authentic Mexican dishes on the menu, but in addition to the expected traditional cuisine, there are also many offerings in the “Latin Fusion” theme, which takes the best of many Latin American, Caribbean and even Old World menus and combines them with a Mexican touch.

Four Burritos Diner
340 Main St.
West Haven, CT 06516
(203) 909-6903

Cinco de Mayo is first and foremost a family holiday in Mexico. For those who want to mark it as such – while eschewing the drunken partying – there are few places that can match Four Burritos in West Haven. This is an inexpensive Mexican diner that offers not merely a dozen or baker’s dozen but 14 different kinds of tacos. There are also many other traditional Mexican meals on the menu – including combination platters. Four Burritos is also one of the few places where diners can try barbacoa – a tough meat that is slow-cooked until it is so tender, it almost melts on the tongue. And Four Burritos also serves tongue – beef tongue of course – as well as chorizo, spicy pork, lamb and camarones (shrimp).

Related: Top Tacos In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at

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