In my fifteen years of living in San Francisco, Cinco de Mayo meant margaritas paired with fajitas, burritos and several shots of tequila at the nearest taqueria or closest Chevy's after work hours. This year, Cinco de Mayo fell on a Saturday and it was such a refreshing experience to spend the beautiful day in the Mission District and Dolores Park with live salsa beats and delicious traditonal Mexican food.
Years ago, someone told me this is a celebration of Mexico's Independence Day. We know this is not true though I still hear people say the same incorrect definition of Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican celebration to commemorate Mexico's victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla. It lost its meaning when it got translated to a common office worker especially here in the city. It is another reason for a good happy hour with friends after work with a Mexican twist. I think it is in the same league with St. Patrick's Day.
Anyway, Cinco de Mayo fell on a Saturday this year. Instead of spending that day inside a dark noisy bar, Mijo and I spent the wonderful afternoon outdoors in Dolores Park. Thousands of city folks thought of the same thing because the park was packed when we got there. There stood, in southern part of the park close to the tennis courts, a stage where several Latin bands played live salsa music. Yes, good salsa music. And then follow the scent of food to the side of the park where multitudes of booths and carts selling Latin food and drinks. It is like a true fiesta but in an American setting.
Mijo and I split a couple of plates of traditional Mayan food from a food stand called Chaac-Mool. One plate is called Sope which consisted of a thick but flat tortilla smothered with beans, pork, cheese, sauces and veggies. The other plate is called Gordita which includes almost the same ingredients as Sope but with a different meat and a different tortilla bread. Simple, delicious, cultural and modest Cinco de Mayo - how refreshing!
If you happen to be in San Francisco during Cinco de Mayo on a weekend, you may want to ditch the bars and head to Dolores Park instead.