Cinco de Mayo (or the fifth of May) is a day to celebrate Mexican culture with festivals, parades, and of course, lots of delicious food. The date honors the 1862 victory of the Mexican army over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War, and while the holiday is relatively minor in Mexico, stateside it enjoys great popularity as the perfect excuse to enjoy a meal of tacos, burritos, nachos, chimichangas, chalupas, or chilaquiles (¡ay caramba!) — all washed down with an ice cold cerveza or margarita.
Here is a list, with a little help from our “Best in New England” collections from 2011 and 2012, of great places for the best Mexican food in New England.
Tacuba – Branford, CT
Viva authentic tortillas with perfectly balanced seafood, cheese, veggie, and bean combos. Desserts, drinks, and atmosphere are also deliciously Mexican.
1205 Main Street. 203-208-0736; tacubataco.com
El El Frijoles – Sargentville, ME
That’s “L.L. Beans” to you gringos. This takeout restaurant, with outdoor dining area, prepares made-from-scratch California-style empanadas, burritos, and tacos with a Maine accent. Try the spicy lobster burritos.
41 Caterpillar Road (Route 15). 207-359-2486; elelfrijoles.com
The Mexican Restaurant – Hancock, ME
Everything’s authentic and made from scratch at this unpretentious spot run by three generations of Central American immigrants. Go hungry: The portions are big, the prices low, and homemade tortilla chips are addictive.
1166 Route 1. 207-422-6285
Hermanos Cocina – Concord, NH
Owners Bruce Parrish and Jane Valliere offer an ample menu of Mexican fare at their restaurant. Our favorite is the chimichanga, a deep-fried burrito that comes out crisp yet flaky and plump with beef or chicken, Mexican rice, tomatoes, and avocado. Best of all, a vegetarian version is offered.
11 Hills Avenue. 603-224-5669; hermanosmexican.com
Boxcar Cantina – Greenwich, CT
Authentic northern New Mexican cuisine using fresh, local ingredients. Don’t miss the quesadilla stuffed with roasted veggies and Brie.
44 Old Field Point Road. 203-661-4774; boxcarcantina.com
Loco Coco’s Tacos – Kittery, ME
Transplanted Californians think they’ve been transported home when they sink their teeth into the burritos, enchiladas, and tacos served at this Cal-Mex restaurant, where some of the recipes have been passed down for generations. Choose from self-serve, dining room, or lounge seating.
36 Walker Street. 207-438-9322; locococos.com
Rattlesnake Cafe – Bennington, VT
Mexican fare with a modern twist is spiced from gringo cool to ay, Chihuahua hot; sangrias are concocted from secret recipes.
230 North Street. 802-447-7018; rattlesnakecafe.com