Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Mexico was deeply in debt to its European creditors and in response, Britain, France, and Spain sent troops to Mexico to demand repayment (probably to the soundtrack of a very popular Rihanna song). While the British and Spanish eventually withdrew, the French decided to stay and attempt to colonize Mexico.

Under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, a small, poorly equipped Mexican army was able to defeat the much larger and better-equipped French army at the Battle of Puebla. The victory became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination and is celebrated today as Cinco de Mayo.

While Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, it has become a popular celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in the United States, where it is often associated with parades, parties, and traditional Mexican food and drink.

Spicy Jalapeno Margarita

And where can you celebrate Mexican resistance to foreign domination in Santa Barbara? These nine Mexican restaurants with happy hours on Cinco de Mayo of course. Hopefully your boss will let you cut out early to hit these up. Disclaimer: There’s always a chance Cinco de Mayo might change some happy hours. I haven’t heard either way but just have to say it. 

Los Altos

This delightful place serves dishes that capture the authentic flavors of Mexico. Happy hour is from 3:00 – 7:00 and features $7 wine specialty drinks, $3.50 imported beer, $2.50 domestic beer, $6 margaritas, wine, mimosas, micheladas, and $9.50 taco combo.



This new restaurant uses high-quality and authentic ingredients to create beautiful and delicious food. Everyone I know who has been here loves it. Happy hour is a great opportunity to give it a try! It’s from 4:00 – 5:30.



Serving delicious authentic Mexican food since 2004, Palapa’s happy hour is from 3:00 – 6:00.


La Playa Azul

Always a fan favorite, La Playa Azul offers up a variety of flavored margaritas and food specials like rajas con queso, chilaquiles, quesadillas, and nachos. Happy hour is from 3:00 – 6:00.


Corazon Comedor

Corazon is authentic Mexican soul food in Santa Barbara. Happy hour is 3:00 – 5:00 and great deals like $3.50 beers, $8 margaritas, $4.50 chicken tacos, $5.50 beef tacos.


Yona Redz

This State St. restaurant claims to have the best birria, asada, pastor, and chicken dishes. Happy hour is 4:00 – 6:00 and features $5 beers, $8 sangrias, and $9 Micheladas.


Santo Mezcal

By the creators of Los Agaves Restaurants, Santo Mezcal cooks modern Mexican cuisine, rooted in traditional ingredients. Happy hour is 2:00 – 6:00 and features beer, wine, and cocktail specials, including $8 margaritas, tacos, nachos, chimichangas and taquitos.


El Paseo

This Santa Barbara staple is a very popular Cinco de Mayo celebration location. Happy hour is 4:00 – 6:00 pm. You can get 1/2 off house margaritas and all appetizers.


Los Agaves

Los Agaves is almost all about its margs. Large margaritas are $14 and small are $9 (or upgrade to premium for $18 and $10, respectively), they are all above the bar (pun intended). Happy hour is daily from 11:00 – 4:00 and features margaritas $4 bottled beer, $5 glasses of wine.

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