If you feel like coronavirus lockdowns cheated you out of a proper St. Patrick's Day celebration, let's taco 'bout Cinco de Mayo.
This cultural tradition happens every May 5 — in case your Spanish is rusty (really rusty). It marks the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, a military victory in 1862 over the French forces of Napoleon III during the Franco-Mexican War.
Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, but in the U.S., it's as good an excuse as any to raise a glass. And after several weeks of confinement, maybe it's just what we need, providing you drink responsibly of course.
Reopening dining rooms is still a work in progress for many area restaurants, and with half-capacity guidelines and social-distancing measures still in place, you won't find a full-on fiesta anywhere you go. Many restaurant managers say they're planning for just a regular day, rather than a day of revelry.
"Every other Cinco, we have food and drink specials and bands, but this year is such a strange time, just being open is a blessing," says Chuy Esquivel, owner of the Mexiville restaurants at 809 Market St. and 103 Cherokee Blvd.
With the exception of Abuelo's, which won't reopen its Hamilton Place location until Thursday, most neighborhood Mexican restaurants are open for business in some capacity, so choose a favorite. If you need ideas, here's a random sampling of five places around town where you can satisfy your south-of-the-border cravings with food and drink.
* Chili's, 1921 Gunbarrel Road, 123 Northgate Mall Drive, 5637 Brainerd Road and 408 Market St. Toast the day with a Presidente Margarita for $5 or any of a selection of 16-ounce domestic, import or craft beer on special. Margaritas are available in a festive, limited-edition Cindo de Mayo cup, while supplies last.
* Chuy's, 2271 Gunbarrel Road. The dining room is not yet open at this Tex-Mex eatery, but there are curbside pickup and delivery options. Since it's Tuesday, maybe you'll want to try the family-size Taco Kit, with everything you'll need to create a meal at home, complete with toppings and sides. While supplies last, add on a $20 Cinco Party Kit, a swag bag containing two 18-ounce martini shakers, sunglasses, beer coasters and a mustache bottle opener. Don't want tacos? There are fajita, enchilada and margarita meal kits too.
* Los Potros, 5611 Ringgold Road. Opens for lunch at 11 a.m. Look for beer specials between 3 and 7 p.m.
* Poblanos, 551 River St. The dining room remains closed, but the patio and deck will be open for your Cinco de Mayo toasts, or you can order takeout from this North Shore eatery. Specials include $2 street tacos and $5 and $7 margaritas.
* Salsarita's Fresh Mexican Grill, 2115 Gunbarrel Road and 9032 Old Lee Highway in Collegedale (Hixson location is still closed). With dining rooms at half capacity, the local restaurants are celebrating a renamed holiday, Couch de Mayo, for anyone who wants to stick close to la casa. Pick up a Fiesta Pack, post a photo of your fiesta at home and tag @salsaritas or #couchdemayo on social media for a chance to win $50 in rewards. You can also find margarita recipes on the chain's Facebook page, from the classic concoction to a blue-hued Mermaid Margarita.
Email Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org.