This Friday, May 5, you'll be tempted to follow the colorful flags and wafting smells emanating from sweet margaritas and baskets of chips and salsa.
Resist the temptation. Avoid Americanized versions of Mexican eateries and instead direct yourself to one of these restaurants, food trucks or bakeries to get a more authentic experience.
Los Guachos, Multiple locations
If you still haven't tried Los Guachos, you're missing out. The Food Network was spot-on when rating its al pastor tacos some of the best in the country. You can savor the marinated and spit-roasted pork at the West Side taco truck or at brick-and-mortars in Gahanna and on the Northwest Side. While there, try any of the tacos, the signature gringas or a torta. Then head back on Mondays for two-for-one al pastor taco night, or Wednesdays for two dollar gringas night.
Panaderia Guadalupana, Northeast Side
Panaderia Guadalupana is one of many Mexican bakeries around the city. The beautiful displays are a delight to see, and an even greater delight to dig into. Simply grab a tray, pick up a pair of tongs and start selecting the goods. You can ask the bakery staff for suggestions if you're not sure what's what. The shop's specialty is the conchas — lightly sweet, shell-shaped pastries — but it's hard to go wrong with any of the sweet or savory options.
Los Potosinos, King-Lincoln
Pollo al carbon. That's what you need to know as you make your way to Los Potosinos. You'll find the recently remodeled truck parked on Long Street next to the Lincoln Theatre. Just follow the smell of grilling chicken. The tender and smoky chicken is reason enough to visit, although the warm welcome from the owners will quickly make you a regular.
La Plaza Tapatia, West Side
La Plaza Tapatia doubles as a grocery store and a full-service restaurant. You can head to the market for baked goods, meats, dairy, produce and all the grocery staples — perfect if you're cooking at home and want to test out some Mexican staples. The restaurant space, which you'll find on the right once you walk through the doors, serves both a la carte fare and a buffet during the week. It also recently added an ice cream shop to the lineup.
Diamonds Ice Cream, Northwest Side
Diamonds Ice Cream offers up savory dishes, sorbets and ice creams, but the real feature are the paletas: frozen treats similar to popsicles that are filled with fresh fruit and other delightful concoctions. Head to the chest freezers and browse the colorful selection of 70-plus flavors. Try everything from chocolate marshmallow to Oreo to butter pecan, or more creative flavors like sweet corn, Nutella and banana, papaya and even pico de gallo.