1. El Meson
“All of us live too complicated (and) are too turned in,” said Bill Castro, co-owner of El Meson in West Carrollton. “Turn off your phone. Take the night off. Be in the moment. Enjoy life.”
Instead of just one day of celebration, El Meson dedicated an entire week to celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
Castro explained El Meson started its new weeklong concept with a New Year’s Eve week celebration followed by a Valentine’s week celebration. He said people enjoy having multiple options because it helps take the pressure off of finding a babysitter for a certain night or simply coordinating around other life events.
El Meson started the week off on Wednesday, May 3 with Margarita Mayhem featuring specialty margaritas and margarita flights followed by a Pollo Patio Party on Thursday, May 4 featuring half of its famous flame broiled chicken with Aji and patatas bravas.
Friday festivities will include live music by Velvet Crush Unplugged from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a full band from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will also be dancing, margaritas, tacos, food trucks and much more all under a big tent in the restaurant’s parking lot. General admission tickets are available for $10. Castro said standard dining will still be available in addition to a VIP experience.
Saturday, May 6 is Margarita Derby Day with more live music from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. from Classic Jam and Flash Top Secret from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to viewing the Kentucky Derby, guests can enjoy featured derby cocktails, margaritas and food trucks.
“We want El Meson to be the experience,” Castro said. “Especially this year being 45 years of family business, three generations, five great-grandchildren. My parents will be there, which is first generation. They’re 88 and 87 and they don’t miss the opportunity to participate. That’s life, that’s celebration.”
El Meson’s history dates back to 1966 when NCR decided to bring the Castro family to its headquarters in Dayton. Castro explained his father, Herman, had worked as a computer tech instructor in South and Central America, where he was transferred every three years to different countries. The family ultimately stayed in the Dayton area, and in the 1970s, Herman and his wife, Gloria, bought what was then The Pizza Queen in West Carrollton. A few years later, they branched out from pizza and subs to Hispanic food on the weekends.
What started as a three table, one employee restaurant grew into 450 seats, five dining rooms, six food trucks, a wine and culinary tour with customers, Spanish immersion high school programs and much more, Castro explained.
He said he is proud of El Meson’s history and the story the restaurant tells.
“You could always have a future, but it’s your past that you have to be proud of,” Castro said.
Cinco de Mayo not only commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, but it honors the entire Hispanic journey.
“We’re here to be part of the community, having the opportunity to grow and to prosper,” Castro said. “We’re citizens of the world. We are connected here.”
El Meson is located at 903 E. Dixie Drive. For more information, visit www.elmeson.net or www.facebook.com/ElMeson.
2. Dayton Taco Fest
The Yellow Cab Food Truck Rally is returning Friday, May 5 with Dayton Taco Fest 2023.
“For Taco Fest, we’ve put together another incredible lineup of local and regional food trucks all trying their hand at tacos,” said event organizer Brian Johnson. “Tacos are delicious and there are so many different and interesting ways to make them unique but it’s really about the people and community coming together over food.”
Food trucks at Dayton Taco Fest will include The Pizza Bandit, Kung Fu BBQ, Blind Dogs, I Heart Ice Cream, Claybourne Grill, Cruisin Cusine, Empanadas & More, Yummy Gyro, The Forking Pierogi, Macarons Galore, Spin City Cotton Candy, Diamond Daiquiri’s and Fifty5 Rivers.
Dayton Taco Fest will be held at The Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. Fourth St. in Dayton, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is free to attend an open to all ages.
The Yellow Cab Tavern is celebrating its 10th season of food truck rallies by hosting specialty food fests through October.
“Switching over to exclusively themed rallies this year gives the food trucks really interesting opportunities to step out of their comfort zones and try something that they may not have otherwise,” Johnson said. “We can’t wait to see what all these amazing chefs bring to Taco Fest!”
For more information, visit www.yellowcabfoodtrucks.com.
3., 4. La Fiesta Dayton and Viva La Fiesta
La Fiesta has Cinco de Mayo covered all day — and across two locations.
The La Fiesta location in Dayton at 8331 N Main St. is throwing a tent party outside the restaurant starting at noon. A DJ will set up in the tent until live band South Ridge takes over at 4 p.m.
Another tent party is going down in Troy at Viva La Fiesta, La Fiesta Dayton’s sister restaurant, located at 836 W Main St. A DJ will begin at noon followed by band Dave’d and Confused at 4 p.m.
While guests are dining and enjoying the music at both locations, patron representatives will provide tequila samples for those 21 and over.
A portion of the proceeds from La Fiesta Dayton’s tent party will go toward Shiloh Church of God, a Dayton-area church, and a portion of the proceeds from Viva La Fiesta’s party will go toward the Miami County Home Builders Foundation.
La Fiesta Dayton is open Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Viva La Fiesta is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information on La Fiesta Dayton and its Cinco de Mayo festivities, visit www.facebook.com/lafiestadayton. For more information on Viva La Fiesta and its Cinco de Mayo festivities, visit www.facebook.com/VivaLaFiestaTroy.
5. Toxic Brew Company
Cinco de Mayo marks the start of Toxic Brew Company’s summer seasonal offering of Uno Mas. The Mexican-style ale with lime puree comes out each year on May 5 to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and “toast our neighbors to the South.” The ale is inspired by the traditional Mexican cerveza.
This year’s brew launch will be accompanied by a pop-up from Koji Burger. The burger joint with a rotating menu typically holds pop-ups at Jollity in Dayton’s Fire Blocks District. However, on Friday, Koji Burgers will serve its smashburgers at Toxic Brew, located at 431 E Fifth St. in Dayton, starting at 6 p.m. until they sell out.
The Koji Burger menu for the celebration includes the Classic Koji Burger – Koji-aged patties, American cheese, shaved onions and sesame soy kewpie on a milk bun – and the Pimento Burger – smoked poblano pimento, Uno Mas-braised bacon and red onion jam on a milk bun.
For more information on Toxic Brew Company and its Cinco de Mayo festivities, visit www.toxicbrewcompany.com.
6. Jubie’s Creamery
Jubie’s Creamery is bringing back its homemade Choco Tacos for Cinco de Mayo.
Julie Domicone, who owns the ice cream shop with her father, Fred, and mother, Stacey, said they first introduced Choco Tacos on Cinco de Mayo in 2019. Due to such a huge success, Jubie’s brings them back each year while supplies last. The ice cream shop also offered them on National Taco Day last October.
The Choco Tacos are completely customizable. Customers can choose from chocolate, vanilla or twist soft serve and add as many or as little toppings they prefer.
Jubie’s Creamery is located at 471 W. Dayton Yellow Springs Road in Fairborn and 2749 W. Alex Bell Road in Moraine. For more information, visit www.jubiescreamery.com or www.facebook.com/jubiescreamery.
7. The Hidden Gem Music Club
Cinco de Mayo is the theme for this week’s Fusion Friday at Hidden Gem Music Club, located at 507 Miamisburg Centerville Road in Dayton. DJ Danny D will play reggaetón, salsa, cumbia, line dance, bachata and a mix of ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s music.
Guests 21 and up can take part in breaking open a piñata, getting low for a limbo contest and learning Latin American dances with lessons taught right at the club.
Doors open Friday at 7 p.m. Guests will be charged $5 at the door for entry. Drink specials and free parking will be available.
For more information on Hidden Gem Music Club and its Cinco de Mayo festivities, visit www.hiddengemdayton.com.
8. Club Evolution Dayton
DJ Danny D will head over to Club Evolution, located at 130 N Patterson Blvd. in downtown Dayton, for its Cinco de Mayo celebration Saturday, May 6.
Nicole’s Cuisine will provide Latin food during the Cinco do Mayo party. There are also several themed activities planned throughout the evening including a piñata smackdown, a reggaetón dance contest and a limbo contest.
Drink specials will run throughout the night. There is also a $5 entrance fee. The party starts at 9:30 p.m. and will close at 2:15 a.m. The dance party destination will host guests 21 and older for the night.
For more information on Club Evolution and its Cinco de Mayo festivities, visit www.facebook.com/bestpartydayton.
9. Buckeye Harley Davidson
The Cinco de Mayo celebrations continue at Buckeye Harley Davidson, deeming itself the “party after the party.”
The motorcycle shop located at 7220 North Dixie Drive in Dayton will celebrate “Cinco de Mayo Más Uno” on Saturday, May 6 from noon until 3 p.m.
Buckeye Harley Davidson will offer a food truck for the festivities. Margaritas will be served for guests 21 and older. People of all ages can take part in games, piñata busting and a raffle while helping determine the best salsa dip with a salsa taste-testing contest.
For more information on Buckeye Harley Davidson and its Cinco de Mayo festivities, visit www.buckeyehd.com.
This list is not a comprehensive reflection of all places in the Dayton area celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Several Mexican restaurants across the area will offer drink specials and more.