Category: Restaurant, Traditional Mexican and Mayan-style Yucatan cuisine
Vibe: Low-key, friendly, and festive.
Highlights: Made to order Mexican fare, including large portions and $2.50 tacos! Take it to go or lounge with friends in this friendly eatery.
Best time to go: While Cinco de Mayo is open during lunch and dinner hours–with a 3-5PM siesta–I recommend this place as a late dinner option. Doors remain open until 10PM Thursday-Saturday, providing a great space to grab some after hours nachos and a cold beer.
If you’re anything like me, Cinco de Mayo is one of those interesting-looking eateries that you’ve often considered, but never walked in to. The space is vibrant and welcoming, but it’s in a location that you don’t necessarily frequent when hungry. Lets face it, people are lazy–if it’s located on Lonsdale or at the Quay, why wander? That’s not the best way to discover new favourites, however, so last night I decided to finally get off my duff and check out the Cinco de Mayo Mexican Grill.
The first thing I noticed as I walked through the door was the charming explosion of colour and festive décor that fills this little restaurant. The tables were clean and unoriginal, the TV set to sports, and behind the counter an array of rice, beans, and toppings lay in wait. In other words, it was perfect.
For dinner I went with the the Burrito Ahogado (i.e., wet burrito), which is essentially a large hand-made burrito paired with beans and rice, and topped with a selection of salsa, sour cream, corn, and a touch of habanero sauce. I chose to go vegetarian, however the option of shredded beef, pork or chicken is available at no added cost. While the meal was tasty and filling, I was disappointed by the watery quality of the salsa, which seemed to invade all regions of my plate and drown my rice. In terms of flavour, however, the salsa–much like all of the ingredients–was fresh and satisfying, so perhaps the mini flood can be forgiven.
My friend opted to try a $2.50 taco with shredded chicken, as well as a beef tostada–which is similar to a taco, but features a flat toasted tortilla base, so is slightly more difficult to eat. These options weren’t overly exciting, but the flavour was better than I had expected for the price. Just make sure you grab a few for your plate as they run on the smaller side of the portion scale.
Alongside our separate meals, my friend and I selected a mouth-watering heap of nachos to share. We went for the meat-free option, which was served on a bed of re-fried beans and covered in melted cheese, fresh salsa and delicious guacamole. There’s something supremely satisfying about digging in to a pile of nachos, and I have to say that this portion of the meal, which could easily serve as a delectable dinner in itself, was possibly my highlight of the evening.
The entire meal, including a soda, cost around $28, which is pretty great considering the portion-size and quality of food. This low cost eatery earns my stamp of approval for providing a nice departure–outside of Lonsdale Quay–from the coffee shops and pizza options that make up LoLo’s fast-food cuisine. There’s also a distinct lack of pressure to vacate the premises, providing a perfect space to kick back with friends over some tasty eats. If you’re feeling the casual date-night vibe, take advantage of the location and hit up Cinco de Mayo as a pre- or post-movie dinner plan.
Note: the Cinco de Mayo website doesn’t seem to work all that well, so I’d suggest just popping by and checking out the space in person. It offers all that you would expect, including tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, tostadas, imported sodas, etc.