5 Chicago patios to visit on Cinco De Mayo

I was just thinking to myself, I need another reason to eat tacos and drink margaritas. Then it hit me, we have a special holiday for that: Cinco de Mayo! In Mexico, this May 5 will be the 155th anniversary of the Mexican defeat over the French army in the Battle of Puebla. As the underdogs, the victory raised Mexican morale, and continues to be celebrated by Mexicans … and Americans … and Mexican-Americans everywhere. If there’s one thing we all do well, it’s celebrating tacos and victories.

While Cinco de Mayo may have a different vibe in the United States, a celebration of Mexican-American culture is exactly what la doctora ordered. The holiday falls on a Friday this year, so let’s raise a margarita, pull up a patio chair, and toast to our second favorite cultural phenomenon: tacos.

Here are five of the best patios to get your Cinco de Mayo fiesta on.

Big Star – Wicker Park

I’m beyond obsessed with their own description; “Big Star is a bourbon and beer-focused, taco-slinging, late-night honky-tonk in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.” This patio is on fire when the weather is nice. They do not however, take reservations. Translation: If you get there at 7 p.m. on Cinco de Mayo, you will not get a taco. It’s not a threat, it’s Big Star. There is a walk-up window, so you can take the fiesta to your own patio if the lines are too long.

What people are saying:

Eat the: Al Pastor tacos or the Pork Belly tacos. Do not forget the chips and guac.

Drink the: Margaritas. Just drink the margaritas. You’re welcome.

Maya Del Sol – Oak Park

The patio is large, and nestled under string lights. The ambiance is a perfect combination of traditional and modern accents, with great service and suburban charm. If you are in the city or suburbs, Maya is convenient; it is walking distance from the Green Line (Harlem) and Metra train. Oak Park is adorable, and if you find yourself waiting for a table, you’ll love walking around and taking in the community.

What people are saying:

Eat the: Fish Tacos and nachos (with mango-braised beef)

Drink the: Coyopa margarita.

Antique Taco – Bridgeport 

The words “shabby-chic” and “gourmet tacos” articulate the entire being that is Antique Taco. You will fight the urge to Instagram the colorful collection of antique plates, carefully curated with unique tacos. The tacos are substantial, and you–and your social media feed, will leave satisfied!

What people are saying:

Eat the: Pork carnitas topped with bacon strips.

Drink the: Horacha milkshake

Federales – West Loop

Federales boasts modern BBQ-style Mexican food in a chic but funky warehouse setting. The patio is sizable and hip, with some really good people watching possibilities. The music is good, and the ambiance is great for a romantic date night or a fiery fiesta with your señoritas.

What people are saying:

Eat the: Mix and match the tacos, and the brisket nachos.

Drink the: Mango margaritas.

El Maya – Ravenswood

El Maya is a BYOB with no service charge or corkage fee. The patio isn’t huge, so get there early on Friday night to secure an espacio. El Maya gets amazing food reviews across the board, and you don’t have to opt for expensive drinks, either. You can BYOT (tequila) and for about $10 they’ll bring you an entire pitcher of margarita mixture to add it to. You can also pick up a 6-pack of Corona at the liquor store just steps away. Oy!

What people are saying:

Eat the: El Burrito Mexicano, Queso Fundido and Carne Asada.

Drink the: BYOT or the lime flavored Jarritos.

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