Festive Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas
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Festive Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas

If making a delicious meal for your household, or a group of family or friends is in the cards this year, I have just the Cinco de Mayo party ideas you are looking for! For these festivities, a lotta love will go into preparing the dinner. But, I do have a few other simple to execute Cinco de Mayo party ideas to kick up the fun!

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that’s well-known for its food and festivities, but not everyone knows its origins. It is often mistaken for Mexico’s Independence Day (which is on September 16th). The holiday actually commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Cinco de Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. It’s a day to enjoy delicious food, lively music, and colorful decorations. So next time you’re sipping on a margarita or chowing down on some tacos on May 5th, take a minute to appreciate the history and significance behind this festive holiday. Viva Cinco de Mayo!

First, lets talk about creating the festive atmosphere before we jump into how to prepare the arrachera taco dinner!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click through & make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Creating the Cinco de Mayo Experience

First things first, set the mood with some colorful decorations. Cinco de Mayo doesn’t require attacking the local party store for cheeky jalapeño shaped salt and pepper shakers and other one-use decorations. Instead, accumulate a few staple decorations throughout the years. Personally, I prefer to choose a piece that I would put out any time of year, such as an indoor-outdoor colorful vase or flower pot.

Next, grab some bright and cheerful flowers while you’re at the grocery store. Add to an authentic, brightly colored or terracotta vase and truthfully, that alone can plenty! Another cute addition could be these 3 stackable serving bowls that have air tight lids. Beautiful to serve in all year round and easy clean-up for leftovers, yay! Here are those few quick, add-to-cart festive Cinco de Mayo party ideas you may enjoy!

Next, lets get into the mood with more Cinco de Mayo party ideas!

For Your Entertainment

First, create a fun and lively atmosphere by playing some traditional Mexican music. Create your own playlist or search on Amazon Music for a Cinco de Mayo playlist. You may go a traditional mariachi or salsa music route, or a less traditional reggaeton vibe! It’s super easy. Just open your Amazon Music app, search for playlists by Genre “Latin Music” and there are plenty to choose from in an instant!

Cerveza, margaritas and tacos are plenty of fun for the adults. But, if you have some kiddos hanging around, stuffing a pretty 5-star pinata with Mexican candy is such an easy way to bring them so much joy and excitement! If you’ve never tried Mexican candy before, it is definitely different! A lot of them have spicy, exotic flavors that the adults will get a kick out of, too!

Third, have you ever heard of the game of Lotería? It’s a version of Mexican bingo The cool thing about Lotería is it’s equally a fun for kids as it is adults. Here is a bilingual version of the game that’s fun but also is a cool way to brush up on those oh so long ago High School Spanish class words while teaching the kids!

Lastly, preparing arrachera for dinner is meant to be enjoyed, not rushed. While you and your family and/or friends are busy in the kitchen, here are a few simple ways to entertain the kids! Using tissue paper, the kids can make some beautiful flowers to decorate the dinner table! Or, making some festive paper fan garland can be another one of your fun Cinco de Mayo party ideas!

Next, lets get to the star of the Cinco de Mayo party!!

Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas for Dinner

Pronounced Ah-rrah-cheh-rah, an arrachera taco dinner is truly a special meal that everyone is going to LOVVVVVVVVE! Trust me. Wear comfortable pants and prepare to over-eat!

Keep in mind, preparing this dinner is equally meant to be enjoyed by the host and party goers, as it is to eat. There are plenty of little jobs that everyone can help out with. Including, the guest’s important job of refilling your margarita when it’s running low, ha!

My family learned this recipe first hand from a co-worker of ours many years ago and have tried to make it at least once a year ever since! I’m sure we have lost a few of her authentic family touches along the way, but we do our best and my goodness it’s pretty hard to mess up! One rule of her family’s was that you aren’t allowed to use tongs when you put arrachera on the grill; bare hands only… she impressed me and did it herself because her dad would be ashamed of her, haha! I leave this job to my husband but he still honors her family tradition to this day.

Shopping Tips

First, the BEST tip I can give you is to go straight to a local Mexican grocery store. Your go-to grocery store may have what you need but I’m telling you it is making your job a lot harder, and it’s not quite going to be the same. If you’ve never stepped into a Mexican grocery store before, it will surely get you into the festive spirit on its own. Great tunes, friendly people (that will be curious if you speak Spanish; I do not!), and just unique stuff you do not see on the shelves normally. This last time, my 6 year old daughter came with me and she thought it was so cool!

The number one reason for going to the Mexican grocery store is to get the arrachera steak meat, if nothing else. However, see my suggested grocery list below. In English, arrachera means skirt steak and your typical butcher should have it. BUT the butcher won’t prepare it the same. Don’t get me wrong; it won’t be terrible. It’s just worth it. However, if you do find yourself at an American grocery store, here are some tips to ensure you ask for the most desirable cut.

Arrachera skirt steak prepared by butcher at Mexican grocery store
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According to the Amigo Foods blog, both inside and outside cuts of skirt steak can be used, but the outside skirt steak is more desirable due to it’s superior flavor and tenderness. The outside cut is also thicker, which allows for better portioning and presentation. Marbling, or the visible fat distribution within the muscle fibers is crucial to the flavor and juiciness. Choose a cut with even marbling and that is consistently thick throughout for best results. As you’ll be able to see in my Pinterest video below, the cut is pretty thin. It’s honestly pretty crazy watching the butcher slice the meat that already seems like a pretty slim piece into thinner slices. Definitely an art!

Groceries to make arrachera steak tacos for dinner on Cinco de Mayo
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The Groceries for Arrachera Dinner

Grocery List:

Getting in and out of the small Mexican grocery store should be a breeze. These are the things you’ll want to add to your grocery list and will be an all-in-one stop for everything!

  • Arrachera steak meat
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Knob onions
  • Onions
  • Queso fresco
  • Goya Adobo seasoning
  • Tortillas (flour or corn, medium size)
  • Limes
  • Black beans
  • Green chiles
  • Cumin seasoning
  • Avocados
  • Tortilla chips
  • Pre-made guacamole
  • Pre-made pico de gallo
  • Pre-made green chile salsa
  • Pre-cooked rice with corn and peas
  • Hot sauce of your choice (i.e. Valentine or Cholula)
  • Jaritos sodas
  • Corona Extra (some needed for marinade)
  • Additional cerveza of your choice or margaritas for drinking

Don’t get me wrong, you can ABSOLUTELY make your own Mexican rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, green chile salsa, or even street corn if you’re feeling up for it! To me, there’s already plenty going on and the way they make their authentic side dishes is just so dang good. The only side I did make is the black beans because it’s ridiculously quick and easy.

Next, lets go over the recipe, tips, toppings and side dishes for arrachera tacos.

Arrachera Recipe

Since this entire meal is centered around the arrachera steak meat, lets start there. Marinating is the KEY to the recipe. You can marinate and refrigerate the night before for the most tender results. You certainly can marinate the day of as well, but I’d recommend for a MINIMUM of 6 hours before. So, plan ahead, whichever is more convenient for you! If your family is like mine, coming by at noon and hanging through dinner time isn’t out of the ordinary, so we can prepare the arrachera together once they arrive if I have things all ready to go. Otherwise, do it before guests arrive!

Nothing about this recipe is “hard”, it’s just a bit more time consuming than a typical meal. But, ohhhh so worth it! Watch my Pinterest video to give yourself a quick look at how to prepare the arrachera. >>>

In my Pinterest Arrachera video you’ll see I use a lime squeezer like this. I know, I know, no one wants more gadgets cluttering their kitchen drawers, I’m with you! But, these two inexpensive kitchen gadgets really are the bomb. This lime squeezer really is a HUGE time saver and HAND saver. Arrachera marinade requires a lot of limes. Also, pay attention to which way you place the lime halves because it’s so much less messy and more effective. Took me way too long to realize that one, d’oh!

You’ll also see me using this Rub-A-Way stainless steel thing that’s like a bar of soap. I love this thing. When you’re handling smelly food like onions or jalapeños the smell just will never come off. I don’t know about you but I hate smelling that all day. After you wash your hands, rub this bar on your hands and in less than 10 seconds the smell is COMPLETELY gone. It’s magic I swear!

Now, for the best part…

Festive Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas Arrachera taco dinner plate
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Arrachera Tacos

Print Recipe
Corona Marinated Skirt Steak Tacos
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword avocado, cilantro, Corona Extra, grilled onions, limes, queso fresco, skirt steak, tacos, tortillas
Prep Time 6 hours 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Toppings Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 7 hours 5 minutes
Servings 8 people

Equipment

  • 1 Lime squeezer
  • 1 Grill
  • 1 Sheet pan
  • 1 Plastic wrap
  • 1 Bottle opener

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs Arrachera skirt steak
  • 2 bottles Corona Extra or other Mexican beer
  • 3 tbsp Goya Adobo all purpose seasoning with cumin
  • 12 Limes squeezed (1 cup), extra garnish for tacos and beer
  • 2 Onions white or yellow
  • 24 Tortillas medium sized, flour or corn
  • 1 wheel Queso Fresco cheese
  • 1 bundle Fresh cilantro
  • 2 Avocados
  • Hot sauce
  • Pico de gallo fresh salsa

Instructions

  • Spread the arrachera steak across the sheet pan.
    4 lbs Arrachera
  • Evenly sprinkle the seasoning across the meat.
    3 tbsp Goya Adobo
  • Pour bottles of beer over the seasoned meat.
    2 bottles Corona Extra
  • Slice limes in half and squeeze into 1 cup of juice. Save extra limes for garnishing tacos and beer.
    12 Limes
  • Slice onions into strips, separate and distribute evenly in the sheet pan.
    2 Onions
  • Cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Marinate over night, or for a minimum of 6 hours.
  • Remove from refrigerator and set the pan on the counter for a half hour before grilling the meat, to allow it to reach room temperature.
  • Pre-heat the grill on high heat setting.
  • Fold edges of foil to create a rectangular bowl. Remove the marinated onions from the sheet pan and wrap securely in foil, so it doesn't leak.
  • Place the foil onion pouch in the grill and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes for serving.
    1 wheel Queso Fresco, 1 bundle Fresh cilantro, 2 Avocados, Hot sauce, Pico de gallo
  • Spread the arrachera steak meat in a single layer across the grill. Cook for 1 to 3 minutes per side, depending on heat and temperature preference.
  • Warm the tortillas by placing on med-low heat setting directly on a stove burner. Keep a close eye to flip, warming each side. Do not walk away.
    24 Tortillas

Notes

Arrachera is the Spanish name for skirt steak. Arrachera steak meat needs to be properly cut and tenderized by the butcher. It is highly recommended you shop at a local Mexican grocery store to ensure the butcher prepares it for best results. See more notes within the blog post.
Figure about a half pound of arrachera steak per person, 2-3 tacos each. This recipe is for 4 lbs. which will feed about 8 adults, assuming you have other side dishes served with the arrachera tacos. Err on the side of leftovers, because these tacos are so delicious!
The marinading process is the key to making great arrachera. You can prepare the sheet pan and refrigerate over night. At a minimum, marinate for 6 hours.
Evenly spread out the arrachera meat across the sheet pan and evenly sprinkle on the Goya Adobo seasoning. Be sure to get the seasoning mix bottle with cumin in it. Otherwise, you’ll need to add about 1/2 tsp. of cumin to the mix. Pour 2 bottles of Corona Extra over the top of the arrachera.
Cut about 10 of your 12 limes in half. Use lime squeezer to juice them into a liquid measuring cup. Aim to squeeze 1 cup of lime juice. Pour over the top of the arrachera.
Slice 2 onions into strips, separate and distribute evenly throughout the sheet pan. Add in a few of the already squeezed lime halves.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove marinated arrachera from the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to cook time, to allow it to reach room temperature.
Preheat the grill on a high heat setting.
Remove the marinated onions from the sheet pan and place into aluminum foil. Fold up the edges of the foil to form the shape of a rectangular bowl. Once filled, wrap in another sheet of foil to protect it from leaking.
Place the onion pouch on the grill. Cook for 20 minutes. No need to flip, to avoid juices spilling, just shake it around a few times throughout.
Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes for serving.
  • Wash and chop the fresh cilantro. 
  • Slice the wheel of queso fresco cheese into triangles, alike a pizza.
  • Slice remaining limes.
  • Slice the avocado.
  • Set out the salsas and hot sauces
The arrachera steak will cook on the grill for 1 to 3 minutes per side, at high heat; time dependant on heat and your temperature preference. So, start adding to the meat, in a single layer across the grill, approximately 12 minutes after putting the onions on.
Warm the tortillas by placing on med-low heat setting directly on a stove burner. Keep a close eye to flip with tongs, warming each side. Use extreme caution and do not walk away.
Serve with these options: black beans, Mexican rice, tortilla chips and guacamole, Mexican beer, margaritas, Jarritos sodas, grilled knob onions, or corn. See blog post for more tips and grocery shopping list recommendations for these options.
Salud!

Arrachera Taco Dinner Sides and Garnishes

Between toppings, side dishes, drinks and desserts, I’ve got you covered. All are great, none are required. Now, let me break it down for you.

ONIONS

First, while the arrachera steak is seriously so good, the onions that go in the marinade are a damn close second! As you’ll notice in the recipe, the onions you cut up and marinate will then go into aluminum foil and placed on the grill, 10 minutes in advance of the arrachera. As you can see pictured below, I roll the foil edges up to make like a square bowl and then finish it off with another piece of foil to be sure all the juices don’t leak out.

bulb onions and onions folded in aluminum foil for arrachera dinner
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Preparing the Onions to Grill

Also pictured above are the “knob onions”, as they were labeled in the Mexican grocery store. Those I don’t usually see at the American grocery stores. And while they aren’t a must, they are a fun, “fancy” touch to your presentation. Remove the first layer around the bulb and wash the green onion portion. Put a small amount of oil in the foil and wrap the bulb/knob ends. Add on the grill and let the green portion char. When you put the arrachera meat on the grill, unwrap the foil on the knob onions to let the bulb part char a bit. That can be chopped and served with dinner.

Arrachera taco dinner spread of garnishes and side dishes as Cinco de Mayo party ideas
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The Arrachera Dinner Spread of Toppings and Side Dishes
TORTILLAS

Second, choose a quality, medium sized tortilla for your tacos. There are too many yummy toppings to go with a small corn tortilla. Corn or flour is really up to you; I happened to go with medium sized flour tortillas this time. Set the tortillas directly on the stove-burner on medium-low setting and flip to warm, before serving.

BLACK BEANS

Third, black beans are a nice compliment to the dinner and are super easy, at least the way I typically make them. Add a can of black beans and your choice of a half or one full, small (4 oz) can of green chiles to a pot, depending on how spicy you want it. Add a pinch of cumin and salt and let warm on med-low for about 10 minutes or so. Garnish with cilantro and/or queso fresco. Timing wise, pop it on the stove at the same time as the arrachera is going on the grill.

RICE

Fourth, as I mentioned above, I typically opt to buy pre-cooked Mexican rice from the counter at the Mexican grocery store if possible. It’s usually yellow in color, with corn and peas in it and so yummy!

TOPPINGS

Fifth, preparing a few options for toppings lets everyone customize to their liking. You can simplify or provide more variety. My go-to toppings include:

  • Queso fresco (wheel of cheese)
    • Cut the wheel into triangles, like you’d slice a pizza, crumble the cheese on your tacos
  • Slice fresh avocado
  • Drizzle with green chile salsa
  • Sprinkle on pico de gallo
  • Cut limes to squeeze
  • Chop fresh cilantro to sprinkle on top
    • Wash and place in a short cup of water, like flowers in a vase for keeping it fresh and for longer
  • Hot sauce (i.e. Cholula or Valentina)
tortilla chips

Sixth, the tortilla chips can be broken out at any point throughout the day. I like to have them before dinner with guacamole and pico de gallo. More room on my plate for arrachera that way!

beverages

Seventh, let’s talk about drinks! I love grabbing the kids some Mexican sodas called Jarritos. They come in a variety of colorful flavors, so I usually pick a few different kinds and let them all taste test them to choose their favorites. My kids top favorite is always Lime flavor.

Mexican cerveza is definitely a must. The marinade will work with Corona or Modelo, but I personally recommend Corona Extra. Don’t forget to get extra limes to slice and serve with your cerveza!

Margaritas are another excellent choice! Those Costco bottles are the easiest and so good. But every now and then we like to make our own fresh margaritas, like this fresh margarita recipe, below from @spfoodie.

dessert

Last, but not least, personally, by the time we’re done eating as many tacos as humanly possible, there is no room for dessert. Impossible, I know! There are many fun Mexican desserts that the kids would be thrilled with such as these air-fryer churros, above, with recipe by @recipesfromapantry. Serve with vanilla ice cream for bonus “cool mom points”! Or, if you did go the route of the piñata, the Mexican candy in there can double as dessert, too!

Mouth Watering Over These Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas?

You should be, es múy délicioso!!

I’d LOVE to hear your feedback on the party and if your guests have already asked you to host this seafood boil party again!

Please add to the comments below or tag me on a picture of your arrachera dinner spread on Facebook @meminthemaking or Instagram @meminthemaking!

Looking for more amazing party ideas? Don’t miss subscribing to the Memory in the Making blog! Here are a few more you might like to get your eyes on, to bring on the fun this year!

Without a doubt, save this Festive Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas Pin on your board!

…Or text a link to your partner in crime!

Salud!!

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