While Cinco de Mayo is a real, albeit mostly insignificant, celebration in Mexico, it’s taken on a life of its own in America. But instead of using the day as an excuse to dump tequila over your head and scream the lyrics to “La Bamba”—hey, we’ve all been there—why not use the day to ditch the burritos for a more authentic bite? The warping of Mexican fare has reached an epidemic level, but if you know where to look in Boston, get ready to be transported.
1. Tu y Yo
What to eat: Chile en nogada, a traditional dish from Puebla featuring a poblano stuffed with meats and fruits and coated in a walnut-cream sauce, peppered with pomegranate seeds ($18.95). Or try the tacos de chapulines—grasshoppers—for a classic Oaxacan bite ($13.50).
What to drink: A Michelada, the cure-all hangover quaff featuring beer, lime juice, salt, Clamato and/or tomato juice ($5.95).
858 Broadway, Somerville, tuyyorestaurant.com.
2. El Centro
What to eat: El Centro’s Sonoran chef has packed the menu with Mexican classics. Try the tacos de barbacoa ($5), but if you need something heartier to soak up those drinks, the arrachera a latampiqueña—a grilled flank steak with an enchilada, beans, and guacamole—won’t leave you hanging ($25).
What to drink: El Centro’s famous spicy sangria.
472 Shawmut Ave., Boston, elcentroinboston.com.
What to eat: Mole poblano de Angela ($20). Who can resist mole? Every Mexican household has its own recipe, but Angela’s blends chocolate, peanuts, raisins, banana, sesame seeds, and even crackers.
What to drink: The Banderita—a margarita with lime, coconut, and strawberry. The colors of the Mexican flag ($10).
131 Lexington St., East Boston, angelascafeboston.com.
4. Casa Romero
What to eat: Cochinita pibil ($18), a Yucatecan specialty traditionally featuring pork marinated in achiote paste and sour orange, cooked to tender perfection. Or try the camarones al huitlacoche—shrimp with some good ’ol corn fungus ($25).
What to drink: Margarita picante—tequila, St. Germain, secret spice, and a rim of Tajin, an eponymous Mexican spice that’s served on everything from street corn to mango ($12.75).
30 Gloucester St, Boston, casaromero.com.
What to eat: The torta ahogada, or drowned sandwiched—literally, a pork and bean sandwich drenched in guajillo-tomato sauce ($10.59).
What to drink: This restaurant features an extensive tequila and margarita menu, but try the spiked horchata—a traditional rice drink but with a dose of rum ($9).
1209 Washington St., Braintree, cielomx.com.