More than justa fiesta

It’s Cinco de Mayo — which, in Mexico, commemorates, not national independence like you think, but a rousing come-from-behind victory over France in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.

Today, May 5 is celebrated more in the United States than in any other country — including Mexico.

After 1960s Latin-American activists raised cultural awareness for the underappreciated holiday, it wasn’t long before Modelo and Corona jumped on the cerveza wagon to promote Cinco de Mayo big-time.

Ever since, despite honorable historic roots, it’s become a big American excuse to party.

Nielsen reported that in 2013 Americans bought more than $600 million worth of beer for Cinco de Mayo — more than on Super Bowl Sunday or St. Patrick’s Day. In 2017, Corona somehow got clearance to turn the iconic Times Square New Year’s Eve ball into a gigantic lime to drop on May 5.

So, if you need to recover from Derby Day mint juleps, there are more independent local Mexican-owned cantinas than ever, all eager to cure you with cerveza, margaritas and tacos.

Azul Tequila, 1121 E. Oak St., Arcadia, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Blue Tequila, 14525 Tamiami Trail, North Port, noon to 8 p.m.

• Cesar’s Tacos, Marathon station at Hancock Avenue and U.S. 41, Port Charlotte, 11:30 to 7 p.m. Cash only.

• Chicano’s, 1185 U.S. 41 Bypass, Venice, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Comadre’s, 498 W. Dearborn St., Englewood, normally closed on Sunday, will be open from 3 to 9 p.m.

• El Charro, 520 N. Brevard Ave., Arcadia, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• El Dorado Maya, 2244 SE Highway 70, Arcadia, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Hidalgo’s Crazy Tacos, 3769 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 Isabel and Annabel’s, 201 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda, also normally closed Sunday, will be open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

• Las Margaritas de Camilas, 2665 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Los Mariachis, 3575 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Mi Pueblo, 530 U.S. 41 Bypass, Venice, noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.

• Paraiso Mexican Grille and Bar, 2639 Placida Road, Grove City, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Pink Tequila, 1163 N. Toledo Blade Blvd., North Port, noon to 8 p.m.

• Plaza Mexico, 2390 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, and 405 Tamiami Trail, Venice.

• Tacos al Flaca, 1262 Jacaranda Blvd., Venice.

Alas, another great choice — Nando’s Taqueria in Englewood — is closed today, as it is every Sunday. Next year, amigo.

Sadly, it’s a wrap

Just when she’d got us all hooked on organic tamales with flavors like tikka masala and smoked pork chili verde, what did Valerie Emery do?

She announced the sale of her 3031 Placida Road Tamale Mundo location in Grove City.


But Emery isn’t completely throwing in the tamale wrappers. She plans to move her magical factory to a new location that she’ll announce on Facebook, will have tamales on sale as she clears out her stock, and hopes to ship to local grocery stores in the future.

On a happier note, a new owner plans to open a full restaurant there and in the adjacent unit. More on that later.

Sting Rays opens for dinner

They took their time to make sure everything was running like a well-tuned engine.

Now, nearly two months after opening, Sting Rays Bar & Grill at Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City will start up dinner, on Tuesday, May 7. Included on the menu are appetizers, seafood, steak, pastas and chops.

Sting Rays ($-$$), 10175 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, serves breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Full bar, now likely open until 10 p.m.

Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at

Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage.


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