Cinco de Mayo brings customers personalized, authentic Mexican food and environment


Tucked in between Groskopf’s Luggage and Gifts and Superior Watch Repair is a quaint, cheerful cantina that is overlooked by the constant bustle of Monroe Street. Situated in downtown Grand Rapids, its outside reflects modern city design: simple.

However, the inside of Cinco de Mayo consists of colorfully-painted tables, chairs, and walls. Like a teleportation machine, Cinco de Mayo brings Grand Rapids a friendly atmosphere to enjoy authentic, delicious Mexican cuisine.

First, Cinco de Mayo’s atmosphere can be defined as friendly due to its hard-working, diligent staff. Never will a table’s inhabitants find themselves with an empty drink, bowl of chips, or salsa.

Although furniture crowds the main floor, I have never witnessed the restaurant space even halfway occupied—and I have dined at Cinco de Mayo twice. However, with hushed Mexican music accompanying a calm, leisurely environment, Cinco de Mayo is an excellent place to enjoy an easygoing meal.

Fortunately, the enticing food present on Cinco de Mayo’s extensive menu is not costly; the entree of three tacos that I ordered cost $7.99. Accompanying me at dinner were my mom, dad, and sister; the combined total of their meals, which consisted of three enchiladas, camarones a la diabla, and a small burrito was $31.27.

With such delectable entrees available at such inexpensive prices, it is challenging to believe that Cinco de Mayo does not receive a considerable amount of business.

Not to mention, the entrees provided by Cinco de Mayo are not modest in the least. Tacos come loaded with cheese, lettuce, and meat; “small” burritos are accompanied with a steaming-hot plate of Mexican rice and beans. Likewise, a free bowl of chips and salsa are presented to customers, and refills are constantly available.

My second visit to Cinco de Mayo occurred the day before I turned sixteen, and the waitress was more than pleased to present me with a whopping portion of fried ice cream—completely free. Overall, the generous portions at Cinco de Mayo ensure that guests receive what they pay for.  

For people like myself, a broad menu such as Cinco de Mayo’s is extremely overwhelming. Since I found a plate I enjoyed during my first visit there, I was more than content with sticking with it upon my second visit.

However, a myriad of options are spread across the six-paged menu: burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, quesadillas, tacos, soups, nachos, salads, taquitos, chimichangas, and shrimp plates—each with various fillings, toppings, and add-ons available.  

As mentioned before, the most distinctive quality of Cinco de Mayo, besides its garnished atmosphere, is its amicable staff; the staff prides itself on its respectful, active service. The staff is able to navigate throughout the tidy restaurant effortlessly, and there is frequently a staff member nearby if any questions or requests need to be answered.

The speed of Cinco de Mayo’s service is also unmatched compared to the only other excellent Mexican restaurant I have been to in Grand Rapids: On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina. Since On the Border is a national chain, Cinco de Mayo’s entrees provide customers with a more personal, home-cooked feel.

Likewise, each time I have chosen to eat at an On the Border restaurant, my time felt rushed; I felt as if the staff was trained to get guests in and out of the restaurant as quickly as possible. However, that particular situation has not occurred during either of the meals I have eaten at Cinco de Mayo.

Overall, the fourteen-minute drive to Cinco de Mayo is worth the unique, personalized food it has to offer; no other restaurant in Grand Rapids provides a creative, enjoyable experience around Mexican food like Cinco de Mayo does.