Seven fun ideas for things to eat and do on Cinco de Mayo in Vancouver
Whether you want to stay home with family and friends, cruise the town, or kick back and soak up some mezcal at a restaurant in town, we have some ideas you may not have thought of to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Vancouver. Such as — (1) If you’ve never glimpsed Vancouver’s colorful murals, we’ve got a taco and mural crawl mapped out; (2) we walk you through our favorite Mexican Meat Market where you can grab something to grill for Cinco de Mayo and head to the park to paddle and picnic; (3) how about taking some good hot pupusas home for Cinco de Mayo — kids and adults like them alike whether you make a meal of them or feature them in a spread; (4) why not try the easiest ever Instant Pot Carnitas recipe for Cinco de Mayo and make nachos, tacos, quesadillas or bowls; or, (5) if you are in the mood to go to a restaurant for Cinco de Mayo we have two ideas in that department too. Finally we’ve got a bonus suggestion for a Pre-Party on May 3 at the end :).
1. Taco Truck + Murals Crawl (Mapped)
Hit as many trucks from our handy Taco Truck Guide to Vancouver as you can. Our advice is to stick to the trucks near or on Fourth Plain and rest or restore your appetite at one of two nearby neighborhood parks. Grab a blanket, fill your cooler with drinks, take in the lively murals along Fourth Plain while you’re taco trekking and then end up at Swift Skate Park (also known as Water Works Park) or the larger Evergreen Park to enjoy your drinks, take a nap or watch the skaters. Also worth perusing is the rest of Vancouver’s wonderful murals, largely concentrated in the downtown area.
2. Grill Your Own, Picnic & Paddle (Mapped)
Hopefully by 2019 most of us know that Cinco de Mayo is not the day of Mexican Independence. So then, for a bit of ironic wordplay, why not celebrate Mexico’s victory over the French (1862 at the Battle of the Puebla against Napolean III) by picking up grillables like Cecina, ready-marinated Pastor, Carne Asada, Lengua, Chorizo, etc. at our favorite mexican meat market Becerra International Grocers and heading to Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park (below).
If this is your first time to Becerra Grocers, please note that even Google is not jived with this market even though it has been there eight years and you won’t know it’s there when you walk inside. The meat market is way, WAY in the back of the grocery store through a narrow doorway past the bakery and aisles of everything mexican and latino you could possibly want foodwise and obscured by pinatas and cases of beer. The owner told me “it’s the best littlest big secret in Vancouver” and he’s right. Yet for some weird reason if you brandish a cell phone for photos or video, they get a little weird. Not sure what’s going on here. Anyhow, Becerra has every kind of meat you could imagine including clear plastic tubs of ears and feet and skin on display, raw and cooked, a ton of cheese, and tortillas — even nopales tortillas.
Back to the adventure, though. When you’re done meat shopping, take your dog, play some sand volleyball or frisbee, take a dip in the Columbia River, then head across the road to Vancouver Lake Regional Park (below) to eat drink paddle and nap. It’s our favorite park to pass an entire day. 24 barbeques, 64 picnic tables, 2 picnic shelters, play equipment, restrooms, etc. plus miles of walking and safe and flat cycling trails. At Vancouver Lake Park you can check out my current non-workout workout of choice (meaning, just good old sport that is so fun you won’t realize or care it’s kicked your rear end until the next day) at the Vancouver Lake Rowing Club & Aquatic Center that has programs for youth of all ages and skill levels to beginner adults to Masters adults. Also available are SUP, Outrigger Canoe, Surf Ski and Kayak paddle opportunities.
3. Pick up Pupusas, Hit the Farmer’s Market & Chill
No the photo collage is not showing pupusas (except for bottom left photo) but rather the tortillas made by the place where you’ll get your pupusas on Cinco de Mayo. I was impressed that this sort of fast-food appearing restaurant makes their own tortillas. When I inquired they laughed and said “well, only our corn tortillas.” Still. El Antojo is a great place to pick up cheese, bean or mixed pupusas. They make them to order and they stay very hot for 20 – 25 minutes. Either go to the skatepark next door or take them home and relax. Round out your meal by picking up chips, salsa and the best guacamole next to homemade at Romero’s at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market (Saturday and Sunday) who are the booth that graciously helped me set up and take down my tent every week when I was working at Red Truck Farm at the market last year.
Other places to get pupusas in Vancouver:
4. Cook Carnitas at Home & Chill
Ah, yes, carnitas. Try this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe. It’s really easy and good. Round out with chips, salsa, guacamole; tortillas for tacos; and flour tortillas and cheese for quesadillas. Don’t have an Instant Pot? If you’ve got a crock pot or slow cooker, try this recipe from my local Vancouver friends who have the best home cook’s food resource website over at The Modern Proper.
Mexican Food on Main:
5. Sabor Mexicano
Sabor Mexicano is a nice little neighborhood Mexican restaurant on Main Street about a mile or so from downtown proper that is known for their giant burritos and combination plates featuring tamales, chile rellenos and enchiladas. They kept me fed during my summer of working at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market in Esther Short Park last year. So — they not only run the restaurant but also sling out food both Saturday and Sunday at the market. Normally they are closed on Sundays but THIS YEAR for Cinco de Mayo (which falls on a Sunday) they are open. Give them a visit for good food and friendly service if you’re up for a restaurant meal this Cinco.
Freshly Fried Chile Rellenos and Churro Sundaes at a Pizza Joint (what?):
6. Rally Pizza
View this post on Instagram
L👀k at that cheese go! We’re recipe testing Chiles Rellenos with Avocado Ranch for our Cinco de Mayo party, and OMG are they delicious! In addition to this handmade fried cheesy goodness, we’re also super excited for churro sundaes, $5 Palomas and Margaritas, $5 @matchlessbrewing Mexican Gold Lager, and Piña Colada Boozy Shakes, happening all day Sunday 5/5! Regular menu available, kids welcome as always. We’ll see you there! ->link to events in profile – – #cincodemayo #cincodemayoparty #chilesrellenos #friedgoodness #deepfriedgoodness #eeeeeats #feedfeed #chefsfeed #delicious #handmade #pdxeats #pdxfood #pdxevents #pdxnow #pdxfoodie #vanwa #vancouverusa #pdxnow #couveeats #foodcouverusa
If you are beginning to notice this favorite neighborhood pizza and frozen custard place popping up on our blog regularly — well, get used to it because they not only do everything well but they morph into Persian, Mexican and who knows what else form for limited items on special occasions and therefore they qualify to fit into a lot of where-to-eat guides in Vancouver. So, it’s Cinco de Mayo and Rally is having a party and serving up some really unique and delicious Chile Rellenos. They almost look like giant jalapeno poppers, in that they have a nice stand-firm structure instead of laying somewhat limply in a tired sprawl all over your plate like many rellenos do. Served with Avocado Ranch and paired with $5 Palomas and Margaritas or a $5 Matchless Brewing Mexican Gold Lager. Also consider pairing their fresh churros with a Pina Colada Boozy Shake.
Mezcal & Tacos Downtown:
7. Little Conejo
If you’re in the mood for mezcal on Cinco de Mayo, head to Little Conejo downtown where you can choose from 80 kinds as well as very good tacos made with fresh, handmade tortillas. Current favorites: the gringa made with that sublime suadero (“carmelized beef,” below) and anything with a “queso” attached to it which indicates that beautiful burnished mantel of griddled cheese surrounding the taco fixing of the day/week (broccoli rabe, further below).
Bonus: Learn All About Fourth Plain Forward at their Happy Hour Cinco Party May 3 at 4 Caminos
Fourth Plain Forward is a multi-year Vancouver city initiative to improve the part of East Fourth Plain Boulevard known as Vancouver’s ‘international business district’—which runs approximately between I-5 and 65th Ave in central Vancouver. The initiative is focused on strengthening and growing small business, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, improving the corridor’s safety and appearance, and promoting equitable and inclusive development. FPW founded the community-based organization also called Fourth Plain Forward, which is an independent nonprofit committed to making Fourth Plain Blvd a place where residents and businesses can thrive. This year their Cinco Happy Hour party is at 5 p.m. on May 3 at 4 Caminos, a great neighborhood Mexican restaurant that has, among other things, great birria. All welcome, please come by and celebrate.