Rosa Mexicano, Mercadito, Talavera: Cinco de Mayo for Foodies

Cinco de Mayo, coming this Thursday, is actually an American tradition that predates the college-drinking whoop-de-doo. A holdover from the good old days when pillaging was considered the equivalent of the G.I. Bill, the celebration of Mexico's surprise victory over the French in 1862 provides an excellent excuse to party. Glass half full? Perhaps.

This is the ideal time to celebrate the traditions of Mexican mamas. From Josephina Howard's specialties at Rosa Mexicano, to the authentic regional recipes from chef Oscar del Rivero at Talavera, it can indeed be a day for foodies to indulge.

For those more interested in cheesy, spicy, delicious Mexican food than just drinking and passing out, we present the following food-editor-approved places to spend Cinco de Mayo. And if you wake up Friday wondering what happened to the Fifth of May, you were probably a bit off on your taco-to-margarita ratio.

Rosa Mexicano
The downtown and beach locations will be ready to party beginning at 11:30 a.m., with a
special Cinco de Mayo menu and a "French margarita," combining the best of both New and Old worlds - - tequila meets Grand Marnier. Additions include a "pelona" (a Mexican version of the steak sandwich, with pickled jalapeños and salsa verde) or a Mexico City "street salad" made with grilled tuna and shrimp. DJs will spin till midnight, but the Brickell locale will go all out with a mariachi band. Sorry, South Beach.

An original cocktail created for the occasion, "missionary's punch" provides lubrication, while a reasonably priced sharing menu allows for collective food debauchery. For $40 per person, get a choice of three gaucs, two ceviches, four tacos, two sides (order the arroz verde covered in oaxaca cheese; the words "green rice casserole" do not do it justice), and one dessert. A mariachi band will provide entertainment; take from that what you will.

This fiesta in the Gables will begin at 5 p.m. with a special menu offering regional tastes such as mole poblano con gallinita (roasted cornish hen in rich mole sauce) and huarache de cochinita (fresh corn masa with slow-roasted pork and black beans). Spicy tamarind, cilantro, and guava margaritas are made by hand to order, and live music performances will amuse during dinner.

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