MARCO ISLAND — Just as, on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is a little Irish, Cinco de Mayo is your excuse to don a sombrero and sip a Margarita, regardless of what box you checked under “ethnicity” on your Census form.
And if you’re going to sip a Margarita, where better to do so than the restaurant that’s named for them? Margarita’s Restaurant, located in the Town Center Mall on Collier Blvd., is all about Mexico, decorated with Mexican art and owned by natives of Mexico.
Margarita’s co-owner Diana Lopez did want to clear up one misperception many Americans have about Cinco de Mayo, though. For those who have forgotten their junior high Spanish, Cinco de Mayo means “the fifth of May,” and many north-of-the-border folks assume that, like the Fourth of July, the day celebrates Mexican independence.
“Everyone thinks it’s Independence Day,” said Lopez. “But Mexican Independence Day is in September. Cinco de Mayo is actually the day of the Battle of Puebla,” where Mexican forces triumphed over a French army.
The Cinco de Mayo fiesta at Margarita’s starts at 3 p.m., with a bilingual DJ from Immokalee playing Mexican tunes, and a host of contests and giveaways. Prizes will be given for “Best Sombrero,” best dancing, and in a contest to test the Spanish language skills of the locals.
The action will be centered on the gazebo outside Margarita’s, with buckets of Mexican beers including Modelo Especial, Pacifico, Tecate, and of course Corona. A buffet including many Mexican specialty dishes will be available for $18.95, costing just $6.95 for kids. At 9 p.m., an authentic Mexican mariachi band will entertain.
At Nacho Mama’s in the Marco Walk Plaza on Collier Blvd., the party starts at 5 p.m. and goes till 1 in the morning, said owner Eric Phillips.
“This is all about customer appreciation,” said Phillips. “It’s my after-season hurrah.” Nacho Mama’s will offer tacos for one dollar from 5 to 10 p.m., and 16-oz. house Margaritas for $4. From 7 to 9 p.m., the Cuervo Girls will be in the house, giving away drinks and prizes, including Nacho Mama’s t-shirts and coolie cups. Buckets of five Coronas or Corona Lights will cost $17.
For music, Nacho Mama’s is staying American.
“I do not do Mexican music. People like that for about ten minutes. We’re going rock and roll,” said Phillips, with Head Count, a five-piece band, who recently changed their name to Staars, but are still better known by the previous title. This will be the sixth outdoor Cinco de Mayo event at Nacho Mama’s, who originally opened up in 1998.
A new entry to the Cinco de Mayo celebrations comes at the Shops of Olde Marco. Tucked away at the north end of Bald Eagle Drive, the collection of eclectic shops and food purveyors is holding their first Cinco de Mayo celebration, with the party in the courtyard starting at 5 p.m.
The celebration will feature fish tacos from Lee Be Fish, along with quesadillas, and something called “cupcakes caliente,” said Lisa Meurgue, owner of Bistro Soliel. The live music, starting at 6:30 p.m., is once again of the American variety, with oldies rock band Radio Flyer scheduled to perform.
“It’s a great band, and a great place for a party,” said organizer – and certified advanced Rolfer – Suzanne Stone.
For those who want to stay north of the border, there will be an iconic American celebration on the fifth of May. The Marco Island Brewery in the Town Center Mall will host “Talk Derby to Me,” a party based around the Kentucky Derby, the running of which takes place on Saturday will be the centerpiece of the event.
Judging from last year, “Talk Derby” will be a high-energy, fun-filled event, with chances to get bets down, win prizes, and partake of what MIB owner Frank LaCava describes as a “massive buffet.” All proceeds will benefit the Upon a Star Foundation, a local charity fulfilling wishes for seriously ill children.
“My restaurant is theirs from 11 in the morning to 7 at night,” said LaCava.
So, you could start in Kentucky at the Marco Island Brewery, and just walk over to Mexico at Margarita’s for a multi-culti celebration. Buena suerta, amigos.