With the Mexican celebration of freedom, fun and the Latin American way, Cinco de Mayo, falling on Monday, we take a look at some of the best spots to raise a margarita or two, down a tequila or three and let loose. Here's our pick of things to do for Cinco de Mayo.
Acland St Cantina in St Kilda is throwing a five-day fiesta, the Cinco de Mayo Festival, which will see its grand finale on Monday, with a little help from their friends at Corona. Take your pick from Corona or Pacifico beers at $5, as well as Tequila Blu Margaritas, tacos and other street eats all for only a fiver, or go big for a $45 feasting selection.
Further along Acland, turn left at Luna Park for Carlisle Street's funky Radio Mexico with its cute little caravan-style kitchen. Rockling, avocado and ruby grapefruit ceviche are awesome, as are pinchos like the oven roasted free range pork belly with pineapple salsa, or plump for a bevvy of tacos like the slow-cooked saltbush lamb with red cabbage or the grilled fish with back bean and corn salsa. They also do two for one margaritas every Monday eve.
Acland St Cantina
The Spanish Film Festival has three films to choose from at the Palace Cinema Como on Monday. Map, showing at 6.30pm, is a quirkily effervescent documentary from León Siminiani, exploring the balance of love and work when the filmmaker loses both his girlfriend and his TV job and throws himself headlong into an Indian adventure. Before too long, his deadpan commentary finds himself yearning for life back home in Madrid.
Or check out The Illiterate at 6.45pm, a Spanish/Chilean co-production by debut writer/director Moisés Sepúlveda that stars the magnificent Paulina García, who scooped the Best Actress award at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival for her fantastic central turn in Gloria. Here she plays a middle-aged, chain-smoking woman hiding the fact she can't read or write. Valentina Muhr plays young teacher Jackeline who tries to help.
Three-60, at the later time of 9pm, is an all-out thriller starring hot up-and-comers Sara Sálamo and Raúl Mérida as young lovers who stumble across a bunch of photographs that unwittingly sets them on a disastrous path.
Away from the silver screen, top CBD spots to unwind on Cinco de Mayo include the brand new Fonda on Flinders Lane, a vast, funky space that can accommodate over 180 and thrives on its bustling atmosphere and open central kitchen. They also have outposts on Chapel Street, Windsor and Swan Street, Richmond.
Prepare to queue, but Mamasita is always a good choice in the city, providing you're patient. A classy space, the best spot for our money is perched at the bar. That way the friendly guys behind it can walk you through the perfect flavour combinations, with the focus on trying lots of little things together. We love the braised lamb, queso criollo, mint and jalapeno herb sauce quesadillas.
If jet-black walls lit up with Ghostbusters neon is more your thing, there's a real party vibe at Touché Hombre's jumping bar cum street food revolution. Though it's generally a walk-ins joint, there's a big booth dubbed the cockpit that you and your posse can reserve. Cocktails, like the blood orange juice Madagascar with Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao and Cazadores Reposado, come in jam jars or buckets.
You can get into the spirit a little early by heading to Johnston Street's LuWow on Saturday night for crazy cocktails (often featuring plastic eyeballs and tentacles), Calypso Soca band Jaspora, the Go Go Goddesses and tropicool tunes from DJ Jumpin Josh, or see if you can convince Mesa Verde tequila bar and kitchen, in Swanston Street's Curtin House, to stay open at least until after midnight on Sunday so you can see in the first hour of Cinco de Mayo.
Main image credit: Simply Delicious