Happy Cinco de Mayo, readers! If you're anything like me, you've probably never met a Mexican foodstuff you didn't like. To help you celebrate the day, I've compiled a list of restaurants in town offering Cinco de Mayo specials.
This isn't a complete list, of course, and if I'm missing any places, make sure to let me know. As you might've guessed, all the restaurants mentioned here are running some kind of special on margaritas or imported beers, but I thought I'd focus on what's truly important: the food.
Genovese, 941 Massachusetts St.
Genovese's annual Cinco de Mayo Tequila Dinner is slated for 6:30 p.m. Four different varieties from Mexico's Don Julio brand will be served, paired with dishes from the Yucatan Peninsula. The menu includes shrimp ceviche, a traditional thin chicken tamale wrapped in banana leaves and cochinita pibil, a pulled-pork dish marinated in sour orange, red onions, garlic, tomatoes and achiote.
The cost of the meal is $59 per person. Call 842-0300 for reservations.
Tortas Jalisco, 534 Frontier Road
The west Lawrence eatery is celebrating Cinco de Mayo with "all the traditional dishes from Mexico" throughout the month, says Tortas owner Angel Alvarez. Expect tasty south-of-the-border classics like tamales, pozole, chicken and mole sauce, and potato tacos. If you're in the mood for something super patriotic, try the "Mexican flag enchiladas." Green tomatillo sauce, melted white cheese and red salsa mimic the color's Mexico's flag, while a dollop of sour cream and pico de gallo symbolize the eagle in the center of the flag.
Mexquisito, 712 Massachusetts St.
Over at Mexquisito, Tortas' sister restaurant, specials also include bandera (Spanish for "flag") enchiladas, available in pork, chicken or beef.
El Potro, 3333 Iowa St.
Order up a "Cinco Burrito" in honor of the holiday. Along with meat (you can choose between chicken or steak), the burrito is stuffed with veggies and topped with chorizo.
La Parilla, 724 Massachusetts St.
Festive Mexican favorites abound today at La Parilla, such as the tri-color nachos (chicken, peppers and onions, topped with pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole), shrimp diablo and chicken mole.
La Familia, 733 New Hampshire St.
Perennial downtown Mexican cafe and cantina La Familia is serving mole with rice, beans and tortillas to pair with its margarita and Mexican beer specials.
Basil Leaf Cafe has barely launched out of its original home inside the Miller Mart at 3300 W. Sixth St., and plans for the gas station’s next restaurant are already underway.
Basil Leaf left Miller Mart in August and opened about two weeks ago in its first standalone home, the former Joe’s Bakery spot at 616 W. Ninth St. (More on that Thursday — watch for it here on Lawrence.com.)
Robert Douglas took over the lease for the entire convenience store and closed the building for renovations last week. The convenience store half should reopen this weekend, he said, and he hopes to open his planned restaurant in November.
The name will be D-Lux Southern Fried Chicken, and in addition to fried chicken (obviously) Douglas plans to cook up comfort food such as braised greens, pickled beets and baked macaroni and cheese. He’s moved the counter formerly home to the convenience store’s frozen drink machines to significantly increase the size of the dining room, and he plans to reopen the restaurant’s drive-thru window.
Douglas said he’s worked at hotels, restaurants and private clubs — including a golf and recreational property where one of the seven dining outlets was a pizzeria in a convenience store — in several other states. While living in California, he said he met Jeff Stehney, owner of Kansas City’s famous Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que (yep, their original location’s in a Kansas City, Kan., gas station), who suggested he check out our area.
Originally, Douglas said, he and his partner were looking at spaces in Kansas City. But the Sixth Street Miller Mart with it’s little restaurant on the side — where before Basil Leaf, Tortas Jalisco and Biemer’s BBQ also started before successfully moving into standalone properties — piqued his interest.
“That’s what drew us here, because we think it’s pretty cool,” Douglas said. “This thing’s a gold mine — we love this place.”
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.