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Cinco de Mayo fun at local restaurants

Patrons dine outside on the sidewalk at Besito

Patrons dine outside on the sidewalk at Besito Restaurant on New York Avenue in Huntington. From left, Clare Rebbeck, Laurentino Ibarra and Ingrid Ibarra laugh in the evening sun. (June 18, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/Rebecca Cooney

It's Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "the Fifth of May") -- the true origin of the holiday refers to a celebration of the Mexican army's victory during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. But the legacy has broadened considerably, with several bars and restaurants now considering the occasion a warm-up for the summer season. A snapshot of some of the festivities planned Thursday night:

Besito

402 New York Ave., Huntington (631-549-0100) and 1516 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn (516-484-3001), besitomex.com

For a more subdued (but still festive) celebration, the upscale Mexican restaurant will be marking the occasion with specials such as rolled crispy duck tacos ($10) and jumbo shrimp sauteed with toasted garlic ($26) in Huntington, and pan-seared jumbo shrimp and lobster tacos ($28) in Roslyn. Both Besito locations make homemade guacamole table-side ($12) and serve a range of specialty cocktails such as watermelon margaritas ($12). Lunch service begins at noon -- dinner available until 11 p.m.

Harbor Crab Co.

116 Division St., Patchogue, 631-687-2722, harborcrab.com

This year-round restaurant and live-music spot along the Patchogue River hosts its Cinco de Mayo fest under a tent on the dock. It kicks off with free tacos (while supplies last) from 4 to 6 p.m., with the Ed Travers Band, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, playing at 5. Patrons can get $5 margaritas, sangria and Dos Equis beer.

Cabana

1034 W. Beech St., Long Beach, 516-889-1345, cabanalbny.com

Already a local favorite for its laid-back and lively nights, this Long Beach Tex-Mex eatery and lounge kicks off its summer season with a Cinco de Mayo fest under a huge tent in the parking lot. Starting around 4:30 p.m., reggae-rock band Jahstix will perform until 7:30 p.m. (with a live mariachi band filling in between sets). After that, Groundswell will play reggae-rock music until 9:30.

McFadden's RVC

210 Merrick Rd., Rockville Centre, 516-442-2600, mcfaddensrvc.com

ADMISSION: $5 after 10 p.m.

Popular with the 20-something crowd, McFadden's is hosting an evening-long celebration that includes dance contests, sombrero giveaways and playtime with piñatas. The doors open at 4 p.m. with $2 tacos, quesadillas and sliders. Later, a hot-pepper-eating contest will challenge contestants to ingest as many of the fiery chiles as they can to win a $50 bar tab.

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