My Easiest and Authentic Mexican Menu
Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo has nothing to do with Mexico’s Independence Day. Originally intended to commemorate Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, today Cinco de Mayo evolved into a general celebration of all things Mexican.
As Mexican cuisine has spread across the globe, so has Mexican culture, leading to an interesting fusion of Mexican and local foods and traditions for Cinco de Mayo.
For example, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is basically an excuse to eat, drink, and party.
Anglos break out the Tecates, Sol, Carta Blanca, Dos Equis, Modelo Especial, Modelo, and Coronas of course -all Mexican beers, to serve up tacos with chips and salsa while believing they’re enjoying real Mexican food!
If you want to step back from the stereotypical tacos and plan a more authentic Cinco de Mayo menu for this year’s celebration, I can help.
Because Mexican cuisine is so varied from one region to another, it’s hard to pin down the “traditional” fare for 5 de Mayo.
Perhaps the best way to incorporate authentic Cinco de Mayo food traditions into your celebration is to use fresh ingredients and flavors native to Mexico, such as tomatillos and Cotija cheese.
My Top Cinco de Mayo Menu
Appetizers: Chips, Salsa, and Guacamole.
No surprises here! What I do is to make them special and more authentic, healthier, and tastier by using fresh Mexican ingredients.
For a spicy fresh salsa, use nice ripe plum tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, onions, tomatillos, and jalapeño peppers.
Your guacamole should include ripe avocados, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Want a kick? My secret is to add some serrano chilies or some Cotija cheese for a smoother flavor.
If you’re not up to making your own corn tortilla chips from scratch, you can still do a little better than opening up a bag of Tostitos. Buy some fresh corn tortillas, cut them into chips, and fry them yourself.
Veggies: Use Elotes Tatemados and Nopales
Elotes Tatemados is a dish that consists of roasted corn on the cob, seasoned with butter, salt, lime juice, and chili pepper.
Nopales are perfect if you’re feeling really bold. You can try cooking up some nopales, or prickly pear cactus pads. Just throw them on the grill, or boil in a copper pot, and then top with cilantro and lime.
Be sure not to overcook the nopales, or they will get slimy! This dish is very traditional, but it can be hard to get your hands on fresh nopales.
Look into the special knife set in the section that has authentic Mexican kitchen items. Just type your search at the top for “Nopales knife set.”
Meat and Meat Sauce: Mole Poblano
Mole, a rich, spicy sauce Mexicans serve with meat, is one of the most popular party dishes in Mexico. Each region has its own sort of mole, with mole poblano being the most popular.
Traditionally, mole poblano goes with turkey, but you can also serve it over chicken or pork. Making your own mole from scratch takes a lot of work, but it is worth the effort if you want to have a truly authentic Cinco de Mayo menu!
For a shortcut, you can purchase a pre-made mole powder or paste, rather than doing all the labor-intensive grinding, blending, and sauteing of spices yourself.
These little fried bread balls make a quick, easy, and delicious finale to your 5 de Mayo menu. All you need is flour, salt, baking powder, shortening, and a deep fryer!
Serve the sopapillas with honey for dipping. You can find detailed Cinco de Mayo recipes for enchiladas and drinks at Cinco de Mayo Enchiladas and Margarita Recipes page or, better yet, ask your Mexican friends to share their own recipes with you!