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Posted at 12:36 PM ET, 05/ 5/2009

A Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Cheat Sheet

By Fritz Hahn

Our list of Cinco de Mayo parties is full of $3 Corona bottles and DJs spinning salsa, so to help you figure out which of today's events is right for you, we've compiled this list of tips.

Best for Free Drinks
The annual blowout fiesta hosted by and a number of Hispanic professional and student groups always does something special for early arrivals. This year, the party's at the Park at 14th, and it features free beer and tequila from 5 to 6 and a free buffet from 5 to 7. In Georgetown, the Cinco de Mayo party at Mate opens with free Dos Equis beer from 8 to 9.

Best for Free Food
In addition to the party at the Park at 14th, Town Tavern has a free taco bar from 4 p.m. on, and Mister Days will have a taco bar to go along with the free salsa lessons and discounted Coronas and margaritas.

While it's not free, it's still a great deal: for $10, McFadden's is offering an all-you-can-eat taco bar and two drinks of your choice after 8 p.m.

Best for Live Music
A number of places are promising live mariachi music, from a street festival in Silver Spring to a late-night bash at Lima. But for authentic mariachis, you probably won't do better than the D.C. Mariachis, a group of native Mexicans who perform in and around Mount Pleasant. They're making a special fiesta out of a regular Tuesday night gig at Haydee's; the music begins at 9.

If you'd rather spend happy hour listening to a live salsa band, head for Cafe Citron, where Rudy y Su Locura performs from 6 to 9. You'll also find half-price food and drink specials.

Best for People Who Want to Listen to Something Other Than Salsa
DJ 2-Tone Jones and DJ RBI have been rocking the artist-versus-artist hip-hop night formula at Almaz for a hot minute, but at tonight's special Latin Quarters party, they're spinning hip-hop from artists like Fat Joe, Big Pun, Cypress Hill and the Beatnuts. Beer and tequila specials should help get the dance floor moving.

Down U Street, DJs Doc Delay and D-Mac are planning a night full of Latin funk and soul, hip-hop, disco and other booty-shaking beats at the Velvet Lounge.

Best for Random Weirdness
Town Tavern will have a live donkey on its patio today as part of Cinco de Mayo Mayhem. Yes, you read that correctly. A live donkey. I'm guessing el burro will be more of an attraction than the free taco bar or the midnight pinata-smashing contest, but you never know. Get your picture taken with the donkey, post the hopefully-not-too-embarrassing photo to Town Tavern's Facebook page, and you could win a free happy hour for yourself and 25 friends.

Best for Dressing Up
Cafe Citron is offering a pair of costume contests, which begin at 8 p.m. at midnight. (Advice from the organizers: "Be original! Be Cool! Women Be Sexy!") Winners take home $100 cash.

Everyone (in a costume) is a winner at Rosa Mexicano, where the first 200 people to show up in Mexican wrestling masks, sombreros or other costumes after 5 p.m. get a free shot of tequila in a souvenir glass and are eligible for prizes and giveaways all night.

McFadden's is looking for the most decorative sombreros in its annual Best Sombrero contest. Winners get bar tabs and other prizes.

(If you just want a sombrero of your very own, the parties at Mackey's, Town Tavern and Kitchen are all giving them away while supplies last.)

Best for Networking (since this is still D.C.)
Make sure you've got plenty of business cards when you arrive at the Park at 14th: the Hispanic Bar Association, the Hispanic Lobbyists Association and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs are among the groups hosting the annual Cinco de Mayo happy hour.

Best for Helping Others
Pinatas, food, music, and beer and tequila specials help to raise money for the Junior League of Washington's literacy programs at Kitchen in Glover Park. (A $5 donation is suggested at the door.) Meanwhile, at Chi-Cha Lounge, a happy hour with drink specials, dancing and a silent auction benefits Hope House, a charity that helps children whose parents are in jail. (A $15 donation is requested.)

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | May 5, 2009; 12:36 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Restaurants  
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