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:
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.
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.
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.
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.