10 Essential Dishes for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is on Tuesday, May 5, but we’re already craving salt-rimmed Margaritas on the rocks, chips and salsa, and every culinary creation associated with this festive holiday. To narrow things down, we’ve rounded up 10 essential dishes for Cinco de Mayo to tuck into as you celebrate this weekend or on Tuesday (or really any day because — deliciousness!). Whet your appetite and make your reservations!


1. Blackened Fish Tacos at Chef Geoff’s Rockville, Rockville, Maryland
Ingredients: Blackened wild catfish, corn and black bean relish, and avocado crema.
Rave review for Chef Geoff’s Rockville: “We can always count on a perfect meal — from the cocktails to the appetizers to the entrees and if we are able — the desserts! We have never been disappointed and will keep coming for the delicious, enjoyable meals!”

2. Ceviche de Atun Pacifico at Oyamel Mexican Cocina, Washington, D.C.
Ingredients: Honolulu Fish Co. Hawaiian Ahi tuna with Maggi-lime marinade, scallions, avocado, toasted pecans, Fresno chiles, and crispy amaranth.
Rave Review for Oyamel Mexican Cocina: “The food and service were great. The pork belly quesadillas, guacamole, and mushrooms were terrific, as was the tuna ceviche (according to the others I was dining with).”

3. Elotes/Mexican Street Corn at Rosa Mexicano New York, New York
Ingredients: Mexican crema, Cotija cheese, chili powder, garlic, and lime.
Rave review for Rosa Mexicano: “Great take on traditional TexMex, classy environment, and attentive service. Tasty margaritas, too.”


4. Enchiladas de Mole Negro Oaxaqueño at Fonda, Brooklyn, New York
Ingredients: Soft corn tortillas filled with braised chicken topped with a stone-ground Oaxacan black mole, chopped onions, crema, queso fresco, cilantro, and sesame seeds.
Rave review for Fonda: “I love this place. The sauces are so good I want to completely wipe the plate clean with tortillas!”

5. Guacamole at Lola, Denver, Colorado
Ingredients: Handcrafted and served tableside with perfectly ripe avocados, Serrano peppers, cilantro, red onion, garlic, lime, Chimayo chile powder, salt, and pepper.
Rave Review for Lola: “Everything here is great, but their table-side guacamole has got me hooked!!!! Perfect for drinks and apps with girlfriends, or dinner, or brunch! I HIGHLY recommend having a Horchata with rum or Tuaca.”

6. Huevos Ranchero at HECHO in San Francisco, California
Ingredients: Eggs, spicy‏ red sauce, bacon, black beans, crema, avocado, and flour tortillas, served with Mexican hash.
Rave review for HECHO: “We found this place because our friends’ son said he heard about a fried avocado taco. Starting out, the cocktails were great. The server was very attentive, and the food was great. Fun evening.”

7. Husk Merengue with Corn Mousse at Cosme, New York, New York
Ingredients: Corn husk leaves, egg whites, sugar, corn puree, heavy cream, and Mascarpone cheese.
Rave review for Cosme: “All the hype surrounding Cosme is 100% deserved. I can’t stop thinking about the duck carnitas and the corn husk merengue. I think they’re going to haunt me for the rest of my life. The husk merengue was so good we ordered another one after we finished it.”

8. Surf + Turf Molcajetes at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, Boca Raton, Florida
Ingredients: Skirt steak, Spanish chorizo, chicken, and shrimp in a roasted garlic verde sauce.
Rave review for Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar: “The food and service are always great. Love, love, love the slow-cooked pork! Being gluten free is never an issue with these guys. Lots of options for even picky eaters, too.”Continue Reading

Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Tacos

Behold the mushroom tacos at ABC Cocina.

I’ve had tacos on my brain since Tuesday (and not just because of taco Tuesdays). You see, that’s when I had one of executive chef Dan Kluger’s most perfect mushroom tacos (among other perfect dishes) at ABC Cocina. It was gone in 60 seconds, but what a ride. Mole, kale, and lime round out the mushrooms and corn tortilla, and, if I’m being honest, I could probably have eaten five or six without stopping. In my mind, tacos are like sandwiches — the ideal foundation upon which you can layer flavors and ingredients to create a yummy, portable, eat-it-with-your-hands, often-one-of-a-kind delight. While most Mexican restaurants serve tacos, other restaurants do, too. See what your fellow diners are saying about the tasty tacos they’ve ordered in recent restaurant reviews. 

* ABC Cocina, New York, New York: “We had the shrimp, chorizo-stuffed calamari, mushroom tacos, and fish tacos (grilled). We also had the mango iced tea and the homemade ginger soda. Everything was seasoned perfectly, cooked just right, and presented quite beautifully.”

Cantina Feliz, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: “Husband ordered the carnitas tacos for the first time; liked it so much he ordered another to go also so our son could try them.”

COCO500, San Francisco, California: “Coco500 has a wonderful range of dishes that are terrific for sharing and ever-so-tasty. The fried green beans, mole tacos, truffled mushroom flatbread, and a fantastic New York strip with arugula, perfectly cooked and sliced for sharing, are all absolute must-haves.”

Del Frisco’s Grille, Atlanta, Georgia: “The ahi tuna tacos are fantastic — highly recommend those!”

* Harper’s Table, Suffolk, Virginia: “We are all Hampton Roads, Virginia, natives so we love the hint of ‘heritage’ cooking, and the new twists- – fried oyster tacos!! Highly recommended.”

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How to Be a Good Diner (or How Not to Wind Up on ‘Waiter Rant’)

Stock PhotoCNN.com recently ran a story about restaurant service with advice from our friend Steve Dublanica, the former professional wait staffer behind the snarky Waiter Rant blog and author of the book Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip — Confessions of a Cynical Waiter (HarperCollins). In it, he provides some tips for being a good patron, including not treating a restaurant as if it’s a day care center (Clean up after your kids.), not requesting an off-menu dish unless you accept the consequences (It might not taste great.), and refraining from showing up sans a reservation yet expecting the best table in the house (Use OpenTable.).

A few diner don’ts that come to my mind are things I’ve seen very recently. First, don’t ask a waiter to go through the entire menu with you. Use your reading comprehension skills and then ask specific questions. I saw a couple make a very patient server walk them through a five-page menu. It took 15 minutes on a busy Saturday night. This was not Daniel, mind you — just a lovely, unpretentious Mexican restaurant with entrees under $20 apiece. Next, if you have a food allergy, ask if certain ingredients are in a particular dish instead of giving your server a graphic explanation of your allergy. S/he probably doesn’t care, and it’s an overshare. Also, if you’re a picky eater, don’t make a face when the server explains the specials and they sound unappetizing to you. It’s not polite. Finally, if you don’t like your meal, speak up immediately (and kindly). Don’t wait until it’s too late to fix it and then simply rant about it later online. Give wait staff and managers an opportunity to serve you something you’ll enjoy.

What are your don’ts for diners when they’re out at restaurants? What have some of your past companions done to drive your server (and you!) crazy during a meal? Share your suggestions and stories here or on our Facebook.

Well-Reviewed: Barbacco in San Francisco; Bistrot Bruno Loubet in the UK; Madhatter in DC; The Wright at the Guggenheim, and More

The latest of the greatest restaurant reviews…

* Michael Bauer reviews Barbacco, sibling restaurant to successful Perbacco, happily awarding it three stars. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Miami’s Barolo Ristorante has reinvented itself, earning a couple of stars from Victoria Pesce Elliot. [Miami Herald]

* Bistrot Bruno Loubet in London is serving up deep-fried pig, and critic Giles Couren loves every bite at this terrific new restaurant that is “exactly what a bistro is supposed to be.” [London Times Online]

* The food and the service — not the scene — are the real stars at Bistro du Midi in Boston, according to Mat Schaffer. [Boston Herald]

* S. Irene Virbila makes an early visit to Culina, the new restaurant at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, and she’s pleased with what she sees and eats. [Los Angeles Times]

* Madhhatter in Washington, D.C., offers great food and great fun, according to Tom Sietsema. [Washington Post]

* Leslie Brenner of The Dallas Morning News reviews The Mansion Restaurant at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek and writes that “The Mansion matters,” thanks to chef Bruno Davaillon. [The Dallas Morning News]

* Chef Neela Paniz’s newest restaurant, Neela’s, is serving up authentic Indian cuisine with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and bright flavors in Napa. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Preston’s in Dallas is turning out dishes that are super in more ways than one. [NBC Dallas-Fort Worth]

* Mexican restaurant Rustico Grill in Chicago gets a visit from critic Phil Vettel, who finds comfort and value in its menu. [Chicago Tribune]

* The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan has a masterpiece of a restaurant in The Wright. [Toronto Globe and Mail]

* Troy Unruh, former executive chef at Del Posto, has taken his talents to New Jersey’s Zylo, much to the good fortune of Garden State diners. [Newark Star-Ledger]