cinco de mayo restaurant ideas
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Curious to learn how you can incorporate Mexican culture into your restaurant menu and festivities? Then you’re in the right place. These Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas will help you attract a crowd with traditional dishes, creative drinks, and other fun surprises.

What Is Cinco de Mayo and Why Is It Celebrated?

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrating the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War. It does not equal Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16.

While in Mexico, the holiday isn’t as celebrated as in the States, citizens of Puebla do observe it. However, it is not considered a federal holiday, so stores, offices, and banks are open on the day.

Many areas of the US take this opportunity to commemorate Mexican culture and heritage, especially those that have a substantial Mexican American population.

Awareness of the holiday was raised in the 1960s by Chicano activists, and today, the US celebrates Cinco de Mayo with traditional foods, parties, parades, and Mexican music and folk dancing. Cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston hold large festivals celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo Food History

It’s difficult to talk of traditional food for Cinco de Mayo since it’s a melting pot spanning different regions of Mexico and Spain, as well as Americanized versions of Mexican foods.

A typical Cinco de Mayo celebration in the US will have foods like burritos, tacos, chips and salsa, and guacamole.

As for drinks, Margaritas, beer, and tequila in general play a big role. In fact, beer sales on Cinco de Mayo exceed beer sales on other holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, the 4th of July, and even Super Bowl Sunday.

More traditional Cinco de Mayo recipe ideas would include typical Puebla food such as molé poblano (a dark red-brown sauce made with chile and chocolate).

Fun Cinco de Mayo Food Traditions You Should Know About

What better way to get inspiration for your Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas than a deep dive into the top 10 Cinco de Mayo foods and drinks and their history?

  1. Molé Poblano: it is said that a nun at the Santa Rosa convent in Puebla invented this recipe in the 17th century.
  2. Tamales: initially, this dish was only eaten on holidays, so serving it on Cinco de Mayo makes perfect sense.
  3. Chilaquiles: traditionally a breakfast food in Mexico, chilaquiles arrived to the US as early as 1898.
  4. Barbacoa: there’s no such thing as a universally known barbacoa. The term refers to a variety of meats that are slow-roasted over an open fire.
  5. Carnitas: the birthplace of carnitas is still contested today, with options spanning from Michoacán to Jalisco, Hidalgo, Queretaro, or Mexico State.
  6. Elotes: also known as Mexican street corn, this is a popular street food perfect for Cinco de Mayo.
  7. Fish tacos: whether or not the fish taco originated in Baja California, Mexico, that’s where it took hold and proliferated north into California.
  8. Pozole: is it a soup? Is it a stew? Both. Pozole dates back to the Aztecs and other indigenous tribes in Mesoamerica.
  9. Margarita: did you know not all Mexican people could drink tequila? That’s because it was considered a nectar of the gods that only priests could consume.
  10. Horchata: a delicious drink of milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, horchata is associated with Mexico, although it might have been around since the ancient Egyptians.

Celebrate Mexican Culture with These Cinco de Mayo Restaurant Ideas

1. Add Cinco de Mayo restaurant specials to your menu

Now that you have so many Cinco de Mayo menu ideas to choose from, select the ones you think your customers would love the most.

Adding limited-time offers and items to your menu will motivate customers to try them before they disappear. Market them as Cinco de Mayo only to drive urgency.

If you think updating your menu for one day only is a waste of time and money, we’re here to tell you otherwise. Use the online ordering system from GloriaFood to add Cinco de Mayo specials to your menu in minutes. Here’s how easy it is to do so:

Then, use that menu for both takeaway and dine-in by turning it into a QR code that you display on every table. Follow these steps to learn how:

Why should you settle for implementing your Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas only on location? Skyrocket your profits on the day by selling delicious Cinco de Mayo dishes online and offline.

Sell your Cinco de Mayo dishes online and offline Install our free online ordering system with a built-in dine-in feature

2. Decorate your eatery with traditional Cinco de Mayo restaurant decorations

Help customers get into the spirit of the celebration by decorating your restaurant accordingly. Traditional Cinco de Mayo decorations include colorful garlands, paper flowers, and cocktail umbrellas.

Remember to be respectful of Mexican culture and celebrate it in a positive manner that does not rely on stereotypes.

3. Create a Cinco de Mayo display to attract and educate customers

A Cinco de Mayo display is the perfect opportunity to make your restaurant stand out while helping your customers learn more about the holiday.

Create a display featuring:

  • Colorful leaflets that detail the history of the holiday;
  • Different Cinco de Mayo appetizers that customers can sample, with information about the ingredients;
  • A few Mexican brands of beer, tequila, and soft drinks;
  • Note cards featuring fun facts about Cinco de Mayo;
  • A couple of thematic photo props.

4. Add exclusive Cinco de Mayo restaurant promotions to the menu

There’s no better way to get customers excited about spending Cinco de Mayo at your restaurant than special offers and discounts.

Extend the same courtesy to people who want to order online by making each promo available for pickup, delivery, and dine-in.

Here are some Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas for promos that customers won’t be able to resist:

  • Free delivery if you order any item from our Cinco de Mayo menu;
  • Cinco de Mayo family bundle: appetizers, main courses, and desserts for the entire family at a fixed price;
  • Fiesta combo: order one taco and you get the second for free;
  • CINCO coupon code: add the code at checkout to get 5% off the total order value;
  • Cinco de Mayo Happy Hour: all beer and tequila are 50% off after 6 PM.
Add a Cinco de Mayo promo to your dine-in and takeaway menu in minutes Attract new and returning customers with unique offers

You can create any of the promotions above and more by using the promotions module by GloriaFood. Watch the video tutorial below to learn more:

5. Organize a fun Cinco de Mayo contest

Take the fun up a notch by organizing a contest that will keep people engaged. Here are some Cinco de Mayo contest ideas you can try:

  • Taco eating competition;
  • Cinco de Mayo trivia night;
  • Guac off (guacamole-making competition);
  • DIY floral wreaths;
  • Spicy food eating competition.

As a prize, you can give out a 50% discount coupon code for an online order at your restaurant. This video will teach you how easy it is to create one using our system:

6. Come up with some Cinco de Mayo drink specials

Complement your Cinco de Mayo food ideas with some beverages that customers aren’t likely to forget any time soon.

Keep classics like beer and tequila on the menu but come up with unique drink specials and cocktails that feature traditional Cinco de Mayo ingredients.

Increase beverage sales with drinks like Mexican sangria made with tequila, Cantarito, Michelada, Mexican Mule, or Cinco Herradura.

7. Play traditional Mexican music or hire a live band

One of the best Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas for celebrating Mexico’s rich history and heritage is playing traditional music.

Curate a playlist for the occasion and allow customers to enjoy their food and drinks on the celebratory tunes of Mexican music.

Alternatively, if you have the option, hire a local Mexican band to perform at your restaurant. Customers will be scrambling for a free table.

If you’re organizing a Cinco de Mayo event or if you’re simply expecting a lot of customers on the day, enable table reservations on your website. This guarantees customers a table and helps you better prepare for the day ahead.

Free table reservation system for your restaurant website Allow customers to book a table for your Cinco de Mayo festivities

If you use GloriaFood to take table reservations, you also have the option to enable order ahead. This feature allows customers to pre-order and pay for their food when they book a table.

You get to serve more tables faster, and foodies get their food as soon as they sit down. Win-win!

8. Plan a Mexican trivia night to teach customers about Mexican history and culture

Another excellent way to celebrate Mexican culture is to organize a trivia night where people can have fun while testing their knowledge.

Give a 5% discount to everyone who participates and an additional larger discount to the winners to generate buzz and attract more customers.

Here is a list of Mexico trivia questions and answers you can use.

9. Plan food and activities for the entire family

If you want to attract more families to your restaurant, Cinco de Mayo is a perfect occasion. Come up with Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas for both adults and kids.

From a special kids’ menu to activities that parents can do with their children or a kids’ corner where kids can have a fun time while their parents can enjoy a meal nearby.

Advertise the festivities as an excellent way for parents to teach their kids about Mexican culture and hire a kids’ performer who can put on a fun play about the history of Mexico.

10. Promote your Cinco de Mayo restaurant menu and festivities online & offline

As you prepare for Cinco de Mayo at your restaurant, build anticipation by posting about the food, drinks, and events that customers can expect:

  • Let people know you celebrate Cinco de Mayo on your restaurant website. With GloriaFood’s website builder, you have a dedicated announcement section that you can customize and add to your homepage.

cinco de mayo restaurant ideas

If you’d like to get your own sales and SEO-optimized website, check out the video below:

  • Post a sneak peek of your menu in Instagram Stories.
  • Use Instagram Reels to show your staff preparing for the holiday.
  • Post your Cinco de Mayo menu on Facebook with a link where people can order. You can get a smart link from us that automatically opens your online menu as soon as people click it.
  • Distribute flyers advertising your Cinco de Mayo celebration in the neighborhood.

To Sum up

Get inspired by these Cinco de Mayo restaurant ideas to put together a magical celebration for your customers, inspired by the flavors and sounds of Mexico.

Doing something special for Cinco de Mayo will put your restaurant on the map and one step ahead of the competition.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.

She wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.