6 Ways To Eat Your Way Through Cinco De Mayo
Our staff picks for the best Mexican grub in Downtown.
Encore Saloon—with its traditional tacos, Mexican street corn and killer churros—is one of our picks for Mexican eats today.
Photo: Enjy El-Kadi
It’s not often that First Friday and Cinco de Mayo end up on the same day.
And, while there’s a lot going on—including a block party spanning Nu‘uanu Avenue and Hotel Street—there are other tasty ways to celebrate, no matter how dedicated you are to commemorating Mexico’s military victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Here are our picks to celebrate the day in style.
1. Artizen at MW
Artizen by MW is servings its Taco Tuesday offerings—and then some—today.
Photo: Courtesy of Artizen by MW
Regulars flock to this café in the Hawai‘i State Art Museum for its mixed-plate sandwiches, bento boxes and decadent desserts. This week, it’s serving a special Cinco de Mayo menu featuring a variety of tacos (beer-battered avocado, beef fajita and pork carnitas), a mezcal- and chipotle-braised Jidori chicken sandwich, a hefty Tex-Mex salad and bacon refried beans. Pair them with a house-made pineapple-mango cooler.—Catherine Toth Fox
250 S. King St., (808) 524-0499, artizenbymw.com
2. BIC Tacos
Get everything you want in a taco in a bowl at BIC Tacos.
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
We’re not sure what BIC stands for (though associate editor Katrina Valcourt had the best guess with Burritos In Charge), but that’s OK. We still love this Subway-style spot where you can build your own street tacos, burritos or nachos however you want. Tacos are cheap—two for $5.99 or three for $7.99—and they can be filled with carne asada, smoked chicken, house-made chorizo or pork that’s been roasting for 12 hours. Or get that all in a bowl, with rice, beans, grilled onions and peppers, sour cream, salsa and guacamole (costs extra).—Catherine Toth Fox
841 Bishop St., (808) 260-4040
3. Encore Saloon
TORTILLA SOUP, MEXICAN STREET CORN AND ACHIOTE RICE FROM ENCORE SALOON.
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
If you love nachos—especially with extra-crispy chips, mounds of slow-cooked beef and a smoky salsa rojo—or frothy horchata, Encore Saloon won’t disappoint. We’re fans of the Baja fish tacos on traditional tortillas (two for $6.25), Mexican street corn ($4.75) and tortilla soup ($7.50), too. And we haven’t found a better plate of warm churros ($6.25), either. The accompanying Mexican chocolate sauce is so good, you’ll lick the cup. (And we have.)—Catherine Toth Fox
10 N. Hotel St., (808) 367-1656, encoresaloon.com
SEE ALSO: First Look: Encore Saloon in Chinatown
4. La Mision Taqueria
La Mision Taqueria has been a mainstay on Fort Street Mall for so long that it deserves its own plaque from the historical society. After a change of ownership, the humble establishment nabbed a 2015 Best of Honolulu selection in a rigorous taste-off. Ingredients are fresh and fragrant; the portion size assures satiation, even in students. We’re partial to the basic $5.95 chili verde and carnitas variations, but a new wrinkle, a chicharrones burrito, has lately caught our fancy. For a change of pace, find your bliss in the hefty tacos, nachos and tostadas. —Don Wallace
1148 Fort Street Mall, (808) 532-8226, lamisiontaqueria.com
5. Taco Kabana
Cheap tacos? Yes, please!
Photo: Bianca Sewake
Cinco de Mayo or not, Taco Kabana always offers $2.55 chicken or steak tacos served on 4-inch tortillas. Why so cheap, you ask? It models itself after the popular taco trucks in Mexico that are known for serving cheap and simple fare. It serves simple, flavorful tacos that are made fresh with local ingredients. Try the house-made salsa, which has a nice smoky flavor. If tacos aren’t enough, consider the hearty burrito ($9.95) or giant quesadilla ($12) that’s big enough for two meals.—Bianca Sewake
1121 Union St. Mall, (808) 585-8186
6. Tio’s Tamales
Eating at Tio’s Tamales is like visiting a favorite uncle who’s always got something good on the stove. In this case, Ray Mascarenas dishes tamales, in Red New Mexico pork, Green Santa Fe chicken and roasted vegetables ($2.50 each, plates available). But you’re just as likely to find the little place on Nu‘uanu Street filled with fans of the carne asada nachos or the crispy chili relleno special.—Don Wallace
1329 Nu’uanu St., (808) 531-8467