A little tequila, a little dance, a little party in your pants. — Kay Kudukis

It’s Cinco de Mayo again, happens every damn year — and we’re very happy about that. Before we get into where to go and what to do, let’s clarify a few misconceptions about the day.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That date is actually September 16 (someone needs to get on that right away, we always need another reason to drink tequila).

Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of one, count ’em, one battle. And that battle was the Battle of Puebla. The players in the battle: 6,000 French troops vs. 2,000 ragtag, poorly supplied but determined Mexicans. The battle raged from daybreak to early evening, and when the smoke cleared, the French had lost nearly 500 soldiers, while fewer than 100 Mexicans lost their lives. Viva la Puebla!

In 1863, the first Cinco de Mayo celebrations began in southern border states like California, and always ready for a reason to break out the tequila, in the United States it’s been a jammin’ party ever since. That bolded part is important because the only people in Mexico that celebrate the day are the Pueblans. No banks are closed, the mail still comes, no parades, and no parties.  

But thankfully we’re hedonists, and our own worst enemy (have you ever experienced a tequila hangover? Death seems preferable at the time). Here’s a list of all of the local spots for great Mexican food and getting your tequila on in moderation:

El Mirasol — there are two locations in Palm Springs (one at the Los Arboles Hotel), try the jalapeño margarita and the stuffed pepper 

Dinner is served at El Mirasol. Photo by Kim Munkres

Azucar — fancy, downtown, with a rooftop bar (at La Serena Villas)

Las Casuelas Terraza — expect a Mariachi Band, and much more

Las Cazuelas Original — the food is terrific

Felipe’s — great food and margaritas, family owned

JJ’s Mexican Oasis — family owned and delicious Cadillac margaritas

Loco Charlie’s — off of Sunrise near the Albertsons, it’s a “joint” but the food is fabulous (and the drinks are, too)

Tac/Quila — upscale Mexican seafood, and the design is super

La Bonita’s — haven’t been, but I hear it’s good

Maracas — great people watching

El Patio — run by Felipe’s

The poolside view of Azucar. Photo courtesy of La Serena Villas

La Perlita — way off the beaten path, but it’s got some great food and drinks

El Taco Asado — authentic Mexican food and full bar

Blue Coyote Bar and Grill — right downtown

Rio Azul — on Indian Canyon, and I hear it’s terrific

El Patron — best for people watching

Sancho’s — breakfast and lunch, brand spankin’ new

El Mirasol at night. Photo by Kim Munkres

And here are the only two places, right now, that are having full-blown, advertised Cinco de Mayo celebrations:

Cinco De Mayo at Hunters Nightclub

Margo Rey and an All-Star Latin Jazz Band at Jazzville (Cascade Lounge at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs)

If you don’t drink, you can alway eat, and all of the above have terrific food. Those who celebrate events with cannabis should jump on the Cannabus for one of their Express Tours. Dispensaries now have beverages for consumption, as well as powders to put in your soda water (never ever put it in an unsuspecting person’s drink or meal, or you might end up in jail like these ladies did. Rude!). Make sure to read the dosage labels, like I didn’t — I ended up riding a light beam into the deepest recesses of my mind. It was fun, but not for everyone.

As always, consume everything responsibly, and grabs some Beano before you go! 

During our last visit to Palm Springs, we enjoyed plenty of scrumptious food. Following some afternoon adventures, we returned to our room at Los Arboles Hotel and were ready for dinner. Since we were a bit tired from our excursions (traveling with a two-month-old can do that) it was ideal that dinner would be on-site thanks to El Mirasol.

So many Mexican restaurants claim to be “authentic” yet serve plates that leave much to be desired. Given that Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines, I’ve experienced this first hand. El Mirasol is the real deal, and it’s clear to see why they continually make “Best Of” lists.

Owned by Felipe and Lisbet Castañeda, El Mirasol has been a Palm Springs favorite since 1985. The inaugural location on Palm Canyon Drive is still a staple today, and in the early 2000’s they expanded to Los Arboles. At that time, the property had been abandoned and the Castañedas made it a labor of love to create the beautiful oasis guests flock to.

Decisions at El Mirasol


Although surrounded by the mountains and the beauty of the desert, El Mirasol takes you to many different places. As you sip your first margarita, take in the abundance of exotic plants and tropical fruit trees. The entire hotel grounds are brimming with a landscape that gives back. Observe closely and you’ll notice guava, lime, passion fruit, and even Jackfruit trees.  When your appetizers arrive, take note of the hammocks and Hacienda-like suites. You may just mistake your Palm Springs escape for a getaway to Mexico.

To adapt to health and safety precautions, El Mirasol has temporarily expanded its outdoor dining. In addition to their usual patio, they’ve expertly added tables and chairs around the hotel pool. This was ideal for us as we’ve stayed extra cautious, especially being out and about with a newborn. Our table was literally around the corner from our suite. This was perfect in case we had any fussy baby moments, which we surprisingly didn’t. Even Mabel loved the vibes!

Margarita time at El Mirasol


We began the evening as one should at El Mirasol: with a margarita. We decided to start with their Cadillac and it didn’t disappoint. Smooth, sweet, and sour, it hit the spot as the sun set on a warm day. Margarita enthusiasts can also enjoy their Skinny, Jalapeno, and House options. To enjoy yourself beyond margaritas, check out their red sangria for a refreshing treat.

Mouth watering, hand made guacamole El Mirasol in Palm Springs


As you peruse the appetizers, don’t skip over the guacamole. It’s truly some of the best we’ve ever had. Fresh and chunky with a hint of spice, it’s made daily by hand with Hass avocados. If you want to kick it up a notch, request jalapenos are added. Had I not had a dinner plate on the way, I could have feasted all night on it.

Delicious shrimp picado at El Mirasol in Palm Springs


Speaking of dinner plates, you cannot go wrong no matter what you decide on. After several debates, I decided on their shrimp picado while my husband went for the Pechugas Mirasol. The shrimp picado is a great example of California cuisine, and I loved its hint of heat thanks to the grilled chiles. I’ll admit that I did keep stealing bites of the Pechugas. Perfectly grilled chicken is topped with toasted purple tomatillo, dry Cora, and Puya chile sauce.

Savory Pechugas Mirasol in Palm Springs


I was also thrilled to learn several plates are gluten-free, even their enchiladas. While some menu items are marked with a “GF,” many can be prepared for dietary needs. They also mark which are vegan and vegetarian.

We were also impressed at how promptly each of our orders was brought to us. Despite it being a full house on both patios and indoors, no wait exceeded ten minutes. The staff, led by the Castañeda’s eldest daughter, Karina, were so hospitable. You truly feel like you’re among family. Whether you’re staying at Los Arboles or another Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel, don’t leave town until you dine with El Mirasol.