Any plans for Cinco de Mayo yet? If you live in Clifton, there are a lot of great options, but there are only a few more days to decide where to go.
Celebrated on the 5th of May, Cinco de Mayo, recognizes the date of the Mexican army’s May 5th, victory over France in the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican war of 1862. A fairly minor holiday in Mexico itself, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has morphed into a day of celebrating Mexican culture, heritage… and food!
Of course, a big part of Mexican culture is its food and its signature drink—tequila. Luckily, Clifton has a plethora of wonderful Mexican restaurants serving everything from tacos to fajitas, Corona to margaritas, and everything in between.
Give or take a few, Clifton boasts about a dozen or so Mexican restaurants within the City, and each has something different to offer. Every one of them are worth a visit, although on Cinco de Mayo they will probably all be filled to capacity.
Whether you are up for battling the crowds on the actual holiday, or want to wait a day or two to really enjoy a Mexican meal with your friends and family (minus the throngs of people), here are three of our favorites.
La Fortaleza – 590 Lexington Avenue, Clifton
Two things come to mind for La Fortaleza, authentic food and a really great atmosphere. After building a following at his original location in Passaic, Arturo Ortegas opened his third (and largest) La Fortaleza in Clifton in 2019. Delivering on his promise of providing authentic Mexican cuisine that's every bit as good as you can find in Mexico, La Fortaleza even offers “Cemitas” on their menu (a meat-filled sandwich popular at street fairs and festivals). La Fortaleza is vibrant and SO colorful, it practically makes you happy just to walk inside. They also make incredible Mexican cocktails, and they tend to get a younger, more boisterous crowd in the evenings (particularly on Cinco de Mayo), so keep that in mind.
Tio Taco & Tequila Bar – Route 3 West, Clifton (in The Promenade Shopping Center)
A newcomer on the Clifton dining scene, Tio Taco & Tequila Bar is already a “wait outside for a table on the weekends” kind of place. They have all the classics: homemade guacamole, enchilada, fajitas, tacos, and more, plus a wide assortment of margaritas form classic to inventive (hello, Spicy Cucumber Margarita). Prepare to wait (particularly on Cinco de Mayo), but well worth it.
Mexican Cantina – 709 Van Houten Avenue, Clifton
Empanadas, flautas, chimichangas, Mexican Cantina does them all and does them well, plus an assortment of American favorites for the little ones, from cheeseburgers or chicken fingers with fries, to creamy Mac and cheese. Bar or table seating is available for a quick happy hour drink with appetizers (the mojitos are terrific), plus plenty of tables in the dining room for family dinners.
Whichever restaurant you choose for Cinco de Mayo, you should be prepared to wait — after all it is a very popular holiday for Mexican-loving people, or you could wait until “Seis de Mayo” and have an easier time getting a table!