Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for “the 5th of May”, is widely celebrated in both the U.S. and Mexico to pay homage to Mexican heritage as well as celebrate its independence from France after defeating them in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The following year, the United States also marked May 5th as a day to show solidarity with its southern neighbor against French rule.
Nowadays, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with traditional food and drinks such as enchiladas, guacamole, tacos, tequila, and burritos and fortunately Mexican food restaurants abound in North Lake Tahoe. Here are some places to get your Cinco de Mayo celebration on in Incline Village/Crystal Bay:
T’s Rotisserie, Incline Village
This small family-owned establishment is a Mexican food favorite that appeals to locals and visitors alike. Specializing in gigantic burritos, tostadas, tacos, and more, T’s is generous on including giant helpings of fire roasted chicken, pork, and beef from its continuously lit rotating spit. Located at 901 Tahoe Boulevard next to the Incline Village Cinema in the same center as the 7-11, T’S Rotisserie is open daily from 11am-8pm. However, keep in mind that T’s only accepts cash and it often gets busy at opening/lunchtime so it might be worth calling your order in ahead of time. View its menu online at www.tsrotisserie.com.
Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant, Incline Village
Located in the Village Shopping Center across from the post office (at 754 Mays Boulevard in Incline Village), Lupita’s has two dining rooms with colorful booths as well as a fully stocked bar with top shelf tequila. Its extensive menu focuses on Michoacán cuisine as well as seafood options that originate from Mexico’s Nayarit region. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu (my favorite meal is the sizzling fajitas in either chicken, beef, or shrimp), but the Chicken Mole comes highly recommended and falls in line with a traditional Cinco de Mayo dish. Lupita’s is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-9pm or call 775-833-4141 to place an order.
Tahoe Biltmore, Crystal Bay
While not technically known for its Mexican food, the Tahoe Biltmore does like to celebrate any kind of holiday that has anything to do with a party, and Cinco de Mayo is no different. Over in Crystal Bay right at the state line, the Bilty has been promoting special Cinco de Mayo raffle drawings to its gamblers. If playing the slots or table games aren’t your thing, the Café Biltmore is open from 7am-9pm daily and serves American food as well as breakfast burritos, nachos, and late night munchies in its Breeze Bar after 9pm. It may even introduce special Cinco de Mayo food specials to coincide with its gaming promotions.
Caliente, Kings Beach
In Incline Village/Crystal Bay’s California counterpart, Kings Beach also has a plethora of Mexican food options all within walking distance of each other. Heading westbound on Highway 28 from Crystal Bay, Caliente serves upscale Mexican dishes and a covered second story patio where you may catch a glimpse of Lake Tahoe. This year, Caliente is also hosting its annual Cinco de Mayo Celebration & Deck Opening Fiesta starting at 2pm…and they’ve been known to host chihuahua races at past May 5th events.
And There’s The Burrito Window, La Mexicana, and Las Panchitas
Head into the heart of Kings Beach, and a handful of other Mexican food joints also offer their specialties. Adjacent to The Grid, The Burrito Window makes crazy good burritos that are perfect to take to the beach, or go to La Mexicana bakery, meat market, and taqueria (located on 8515 Brook Avenue) for a torta and/or a wet burrito smothered in cheese and enchilada sauce… and wash it down with a horchata.
Las Panchitas is also a sit-down restaurant right there in the middle of Kings Beach on 8345 North Lake Boulevard that serves delicious albondigas soup, sopapillas, and a special Puerto Vallarta enchilada that will make you feel like you are on vacation. Bring your friends and split a pitcher of mango margaritas to really get into the Cinco de Mayo spirit.
Whatever you decide to do to celebrate the 5th of May, be sure to stay safe, have a sober driver (or take the TART if you need to) and enjoy the beautiful weather. Happy Cinco de Mayo and have fun!