DAYTON EATS: Make the most of your Cinco de Mayo celebration

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

As of the beginning of this year, Mexican restaurants make up 11 percent of all restaurants in the U.S.

It’s a statistic from Pew Research Center that’s not hard to believe locally with a Mexican restaurant never far away no matter what road you find yourself on in the Miami Valley.

The popular cuisine takes the crown for another year, but no day is as popular or as packed as Cinco de Mayo. With no shortage of places to celebrate Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla, the most difficult decision is where to go.

In the last five years the Dayton region has seen its options expand when it comes to finding a good Mexican meal locally. The newer restaurants to the dining scene are diverse and interesting and are welcome additions to the options we had previously had available.

In July of 2021 Sueño (dream in Spanish), the region’s first truly upscale Mexican restaurant, opened in the Avant-Garde building in downtown Dayton next to its sister operation, Tender Mercy. The beautifully appointed upscale destination has a menu created by three-time James Beard nominee Chef Jorge Guzman that is prepared over a live fire hearth that draws flavor and inspiration from the Oaxaca region of Mexico.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

While Sueño is on the serious side, El Asadero Mexican Bar and Grill at Cross Pointe Shopping Center in Centerville is just the opposite. The food is flashy and colorful only to be outdone by the ridiculous over-the-top cocktails — some served with sparklers if that gives you an idea of what awaits.

Those who time things right may see a dancing flashing robot on the weekends in the evening, and sometimes two. The table side guacamole is fun to watch and even better to eat and you will find it hard to resist not taking photos of everything you eat and drink, especially if you show up during prime time weekend hours. It was rebranded after the El Asadero owners partnered with the owners of Rancheros Cocina Mexicana towards the end of 2023 and the result is a upgraded experience that is a party atmosphere. And if you love brunch they have a special one on the weekends worth trying out, pair it with a margarita flight for a Sunday Funday.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

One of the newest Mexican spots that opened just a few months ago is a new concept from the owners of El Toro that opened in Beavercreek across from the Greene Town Center. Vallarta Mexican Seafood is a menu inspired by the flavors found in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and the delicious treasure that can be found in the neighboring ocean. If you are a seafood fan this is the spot for you and it’s priced right considering the expense of seafood and the portions that come out of the kitchen. If you are traveling with company that doesn’t feel the same way about seafood there are plenty of other dishes to direct your attention to that feature steak, chicken and veggies.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Some deserving destinations are more hidden than others. Take the Taqueria Garcia Mobil taco truck at the corner of 3rd and Huffman that is worth seeking out. Still more hidden are the fantastic restaurants that are part of grocery stores like at Marisquería in La Guadalupana super market or the restaurants inside of the La Michoacana Mexican Markets.

And if you’re really going to go all out there’s a Springfield restaurant called Marisqueria Cinco de Mayo that actually bills the big day in its name. Never been, but I mention it because the name screams to be considered for a visit on May 5.

Here are some of the other fantastic spots in town to enjoy the best heat, spice and tequila that our fair city has to offer. This long list is actually a short list of some of my favorite places to head to when I am in need of satisfying my burrito and taco urges. The list seems long when there are so many options to choose from.

Whether you have plans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style or want a running list of options to refer to when you are having a craving, these are all great spots to consider.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

Agave and Rye

11 N. Main St., Centerville


2 N. Market St., Troy


7125 Fountain View Dr., Liberty Township


Why it rates: These one-of-a-kind locations are filled with art and decor that makes no Agave and Rye’s alike and offers a feast for the senses. The Tasty tequilas and rebellious ryes paired with epic tacos lke the “Crown Jewel” stuffed with butter and garlic lobster, shiitake mushrooms, mac ‘n cheese, truffle oil and shavings and green onions, mean the feast continues on.

Chiapas Mexican Grill

2733 W. Alex Bell Rd., Moraine


8971 Kingsridge Dr., Miamisburg


298 N. Main St, Centerville


Why it rates: This authentic destination has a whole lot to like on this menu, but the show stopper is the fajita de seafood featuring a large tilapia filet, grilled shrimp, small scallops and crab along with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes served alongside the traditional rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, tortillas and pico de gallo. This is a dish that could easily be shared along with an appetizer depending on how hungry you are.

Credit: Condado Tacos

Credit: Condado Tacos

Condado Tacos

4482 Glengarry Dr., Beavercreek


More info: Condado at the Greene Town Center has a bright eclectic vibe that seems particularly inviting for summer when the two large garage doors go up in the corner to create a comfortable cross breeze inside. Since opening its first restaurant in Columbus in 2014, the chain has exploded with locations in Columbus, Mason, Cincinnati, Toledo, Youngstown and restaurants in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and North Carolina. The menu features tacos that can be built to your liking or a menu of signature tacos they offer if you’re not interested in getting creative.

Credit: Czerwinski Allegra

Credit: Czerwinski Allegra


10445 Innovation Drive at Austin Landing in Miami Twp.


2717 Fairfield Commons, Beavercreek


Why it rates: The Tex-Mex food is decent, but the quirky, colorful decor, fresh cocktails and awesome patio make it worth the trip. The Austin, Texas-based chain has been expanding across the county. The food is reasonably priced, but they’ll get you on the drinks starting with the Perfect Margarita made with fresh lime juice.

El Asadero Mexican Bar and Grill

101 E. Alex Bell Rd., #134, Centerville


Why it rates: See story.

El Meson

903 E Dixie Dr., Dayton


Why it rates: With one of the best patios in Dayton this is the spot that will be throwing one of the best parties over several days leading up to Cinco de Mayo. It’s a fantastic option to zero in on for Cinco de Mayo celebrations and any others you have happening this year. They are known for a menu that draws inspiration from Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Spain and Mexico, offering flavors you won’t find at other restaurants in town.

Credit: Facebook Photo

Credit: Facebook Photo

El Toro

710 Gardner Road, Springboro

4421 Ohio 725, Bellbrook

894 S. Main St., Centerville

2335 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Miamisburg

9190 N. Main St., Englewood

1375 N. Fairfield Road, Beavercreek

2915 Harshman Road, Dayton

448 Indian Ripple Road, Beavercreek

2100 S. Limestone St., Springfield

8321 Old Troy Pike, Huber Heights

6770 Miller Lane, Dayton

794 Northwoods Blvd., Vandalia

2017 N. Bechtle Ave., Springfield

Why it rates: This wouldn’t be at the top of my list, but I have to include it because El Toro continues to rank at the top of the list with voters in the Best of Dayton polls. With a full menu to choose from and a number of locations that are nearly as plentiful as the dishes that are offered, there’s never an El Toro too far away. Consider trying the El Toro Molcajete featuring tender slices of steak, chicken, chorizo and shrimp grilled with green onions and Nopales (cactus). Drizzled with green sauce and covered with melted cheese, if you are looking to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in a big way, this is a solid option.


Elsa’s Kettering Sports Grill - 1216 E. Stroop Rd., Dayton


Elsa’s East- 3618 Linden Ave., Dayton


Elsa’s South - 6318 Far Hills Ave., Dayton


Elsa’s on the Border

1227 Wilmington Ave., Dayton


Why it rates: Two words — Bad Juan. An aptly named margarita that becomes exponentially badder with each one ordered. The restaurant’s famous margarita is the one menu item that makes worth the trip. The food’s fine, but this is a mean cocktail that will make those enchiladas or whatever you decide to order taste that much better.

Frida’s Mexican Kitchen and Bar

965 W. Main St., Tipp City


Why it rates: It’s an homage to Frida Kahlo and that’s enough for me. Well, that and a bacon-wrapped burrito.

Jorrge’s Restaurante Cantina

3800 Wilmington Pike, Kettering


Why it rates: Their description, not mine — festive, unfussy outpost since 1983 for Mexican meals made from family recipes, plus margaritas. It’s a winning recipe when you are looking for something a little different and a little divey.

La Michoacana #5 Mexican Market

748 Troy St., Dayton


La Michoacana #10 Mexican Market

6220 Chambersburg Rd., Dayton


Why it rates: This is one of my absolute favorites to head to for street tacos and follow up with a little shopping for my next taco Tuesday. If you haven’t been here, this is the spot on the list you should seek out. Their tacos, gorditas, tostadas and tamales are fantastic, but if you want to kick off Cinco de Mayo right, their breakfast is fantastic. Chilaquiles, hot cakes and huevos rancheros are a great way to wake up and start the day.

Las Margaritas Mexican Bar & Grill

5526 Airway Rd., Riverside


Why it rates: This Riverside spot specializes in margaritas and Tex-Mex fare. In addition to a long list of lunch and dinner combination platters, a bevy of house specialties like carne asada, pork chimichangas, tacos al pastor and shrimp diablo are offered as well. They have a number of margarita options should you find yourself in the mood. Ole!

La Monarca Tacos and Ice Cream

276 Linden Ave., Dayton


Why it rates: Go for the tacos, or better yet, the birria pizza and stay for the desserts. Go with a churro banana split or something else made with one of their 24 flavors of ice cream including tequila. This place doesn’t look like much and the web presence is lacking, but it has so much heart and is a perfect spot as the weather warms up for something savory and something sweet that will cool you off.

Local Cantina Water Street

503 E. 1st St., Dayton


Why it rates: This has been a welcome addition to downtown Dayton right across from the Dragon’s ballpark. It’s been a nice addition to the downtown landscape and the mustache ride margaritas are good anytime day or night. The Crunchweezy taco is their specialty made with soft flour and hard corn shells, queso and guacamole, roasted corn and black beans, salsa, meaty barbacoa, lettuce, queso fresco and a drizzle of chipotle cream. Get more than one because you won’t be able to stop.

Mi Cozumel

511 N. Broadway St., Lebanon


Why it rates: This restaurant chain’s three Cincinnati locations were just joined by a fourth location in Lebanon. Named “Best Mexican Restaurant of the North” for four consecutive years by Cincinnati Magazine, with a recognition of The State of Ohio for “Best Hispanic Business Fighting Spirit of the year” by Gov Mike DeWine and selected as one of the “Best bars and restaurants in Cincinnati” by CityBeat it’s been racking up recognition and awards since the first location opened in 2018. Boasting more than 40 flavors of margaritas and flaming fajitas as well as a burrito menu that will wrap you in more choices than you thought possible, this is definitely a destination worth seeking out.

Rusty Taco

1822 Brown St, Dayton

(937) 938-7384

Why it rates: Located near the University of Dayton, Rusty Taco has plenty of its namesake tacos to offer, the best by far being the breakfast tacos. The next time you are debating on where to go to brunch, give this some consideration. They can make you a bloody Mary, but their margaritas are so good it would be a shame to pass them up.

Sonora Grill Seafood Steak Bar & Grill

5438 Burkhardt Rd., Riverside


Why it rates: Located next to La Guadalupana Supermarket Sonora has a massive menu that is focused on seafood. Whether you want it cooked on a grill or one of their 10 ceviches cooked in acid, the dishes are flavorful, creative and made with fresh delicious ingredients. With a Mexican grocery right next door, look up some Tex-Mex recipes and get a little shopping in.


607 E. 3rd St., Dayton


Why it rates: See story above.

Taqueria Mixteca

1609 E. Third St., Dayton


Why it rates: Taqueria Mixteca is inexpensive and tasty. The large burrito is large enough to feed two with leftovers, the authentic tacos are absolutely delicious and the guacamole is some of the best in town and an incredibly generous helping for the price. Honestly, this is a go to with a packed menu that almost never lets me down.

Tres Amigos Bourbon and Tequila Bar

92 Edgebrooke Dr., Springboro


Why it rates: Cinco de Mayo also happens to be National Enchilada Day. Who doesn’t love a corn tortilla stuffed with different delicious mixtures and then slathered with sauce and a blanket of cheese? This spot has Jalisco enchiladas stuffed with chicken or beef and then coated with chorizo, grilled onion, cheese sauce and enchilada sauce. If you don’t like that they have eight other enchilada options and plenty more to choose from, plus bourbon AND tequila. It’s a win-win-win.

Vallarta Mexican & Seafood Restaurant

4448 Indian Ripple Rd., Beavercreek


Why it rates: See story above.

Dayton Eats

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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