Photo courtesy of Armando's

It's time for Houstonians to celebrate the historic day on May 5, 1862. That date marks the Mexican army's pivotal defeat of the French army at the Battle of Puebla, during the Franco-Mexican War. Contrary to popular perception, May 5 is not Mexican Independence Day, but Cinco de Mayo is a time-honored calendar date in the U.S.

And it's a time to party. Here in Houston, that means local bars, clubs, and restaurants will serve up Mexican fare, beer, and mucho margaritas. Here are some favorite spots for a serious Cinco de Mayo celebration. Fiesta safely, Houston.

Legendary River Oaks hot spot/see-and-be-scene hang Armandoskicks things off on Thursday, May 4 with the restaurant's now-legendary, anything-goes, late-night dance party.

The fiesta continues on Cinco de Mayo proper, with one more late-night bash a DJ spinning danceable tunes. Indulge in classic sips or the extravagant River Oaks Rita ($46), made with Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila, Patron Citronge, fresh lime juice, agave, a house-made “green” salt rim, and a 24-carat gold lime slice.

Tacos A Go Go is spicing things up with irresistible specials and a party on the patio at its Greenway Plaza location. Taco lovers can head to any of the four locations to enjoy $5 elote street corn, $2 Mexican sandy shots, $5 Ranch Water or a bucket of 6 for $25. 7 am.

The five Los Tios bustling locations will serve an all-day happy hour, featuring the famous $5 house margaritas, $6 gold margaritas, plus $1 off beers, plus merch giveaways. Those near the flagship San Felipe location can enjoy a Cinco de Mayo Parking Lot Party from 2 pm to close. Those festivities include a DJ, mariachi, a live donkey for photo opps, food, and more.

Over at Home Run Dugout, enjoy $4 Mexican Beers, $4 Mexican candy shots and $12 margarita flights. Stick around for live music by Los Cool Arrows, starting at 7 pm, and surprise contests with your chance to win a Home Run Dugout gift card. 11 am.

Hilton Americas-Houston will offer a Tacos and Tequila pairing. Enjoy two Blackened Gulf Snapper tacos with avocado crema and charred jalapeño lime slaw and a Classic Margarita with House Tequila for $25. Available at Lobby Bar and 1600 Bar + Grille.

All the Molina’s Cantina locations will have $6.50 Molina’s margaritas during happy hour and mariachis from 6 to 8 pm. To eat, choose from grilled fajitas with beef, chicken, or combo. 11 am.

The Rustic will have live music, drink specials, food features and more! This free event will also feature $5 margaritas (frozen or rocks), $5 Dos Esquis drafts, and $20 Dos Esquis beer buckets. 11 am.

Over at The Union Kitchen's Memorial location, indulge in a mouth-watering three-course dinner for $60, and savor the flavors of Mexico. 11 am.

Chic Montrose Italian steakhouse Marmo will serve up the Margherite ($18), a special, off-menu cocktail featuring Corazón Blanco tequila, cantaloupe, honey, and smoked salt. 11 am.

Axelrad will feature two drinks with Gimmie Gomas, a locally made chamoy. Customers can also enjoy $1 off margaritas all day and enjoy live music starting at 7pm from Mariachi Imperial de America and Andrea Mariachi. Noon.

Houston, Axelrad, April 2016, patioThe party is always brewing at Axelrad. Photo by Jamaal Vince Photography

Authentic Mexican eatery Arnaldo Richards’ Picos— or Picos, as it's commonly known — will celebrate outside in the parking lot underneath a 50-foot tent from noon to 11 pm. Look for a cash bar full of Cinco de Mayo drinks and margaritas, a food station offering street tacos, ballpark nachos, and guacamole and chips for purchase, and more. Tunes come courtesy of two DJs and a mariachi band from 6-7 pm. Be sure to grab the goodies and swag. Noon.

Heights Thai favorite Kin Deewill shake it up with two, award-winning margaritas — with a buy two, get one free special from 5 pm to 6:30 pm. Try a sweet and spicy Tom Kha Margarita ($18), featuring Don Julio Blanco, lime juice, Thai herb-infused syrup inspired by the famous Tom Khaki soup, and a kick of galangal. The Butterfly Pea Margarita ($18) is made with Don Julio Silver, Cointreau, fresh lime, and butterfly tea infused with lemongrass syrup.

La Grange will open early, with DJ Blue Heron Yacht Club providing tunes from 7 pm to midnight. The Montrose hotspot will also serve up a special cocktail, called Millionaire Margarita, for $25. Noon.

Downtown favorite El Big Bad's 13th annual blowout will feature liquid nitrogen frozen margaritas — touted as “the coldest frozen margaritas on the planet” — along with $5 house margaritas all night long. In addition, the night will offer a holiday market, face painting, and DJs. The party continues on May 6 with a charity pub crawl (3-7 pm) that benefits MuXerHTX. 1 pm.

Kirby Ice House will celebrate the festive holiday in style with tequila, margaritas, and Mexican beer buckets all day and night. Partygoers who stop by the Memorial or Eastside locations can also enjoy the mariachi bands that will be onsite. Happy hour specials run from 2-7 pm.

The Heights Social will have festive Cinco de Mayo-themed drinks, a special kitchen menu and featured deals on bottles of tequila. A DJ will join the festivities in the evening. 3 pm.

Warehouse 72 will have chef Jaime Salazar’s special, four-course Tres Generaciones Tequila dinner for $99 a person. Enjoy dishes like aguachile de atun, sopes de pollo ahumado, wagyu carne asada, and tres leches cake for dessert. 3 pm.

Bar Louie is offering $7 Dos Sauza margaritas, plus guests can also enjoy the brand-new Rock & Rita on this special holiday. Pair these refreshing drinks with 50% off bar bites such as the trio dips & chips, chicken quesadillas, and other flavorful options. 4 pm.

Cadillac Bar will have a party DJ, along with a mariachi band so you can enjoy live music all night long and dance the night away. There will also be a taco stand with street tacos, cantina nachos, chips & queso, and chips & salsa. 4 pm.

East End Backyard will have a fiesta with music, food, and drinks. Enjoy tacos, tortas, gorditas, quesadillas, and more from La Esquina Food Truck. Mariachi Houston will also stop by to play some of your favorite classic songs. 4 pm.

Hilton Americas-Houston will have a tacos and tequila pairing at the lobby bar and 1600 Bar + Grille. Enjoy two blackened Gulf snapper tacos with avocado crema and charred jalapeno lime slaw and a classic margarita with house tequila for $25. 4 pm.

Houston Cinema Arts Societyis teaming up with The Storyhive for "Cinco de Hive-o" bash. Join them for an evening of entertainment featuring Folklorico dance by Ballet Folklorico Herencia Mexicana de Houston, a photo booth, and some fantastic raffle prizes. 5 pm.

Urban South HTX will have a celebration, with a DJ, a taco truck, beer releases, a michelada vendor, a Mexican candy vendor, and more. Also, sign up to paint your very own canterito to take home. 5 pm.

Down on Allen Parkway, Flora will celebrate with festive decor, $8 Flora margaritas, and free pours of Santanera Tequila. In addition, its private dining room will become the Frida Patio Bar. 6-10 pm.

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Houston's oldest craft brewery wins top spot at Great American Beer Festival

a major award

Houston’s oldest craft brewery received a major award over the weekend. Saint Arnold Brewing Company won the Brewer’s Association 2023 Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Saint Arnold Great American Beer Festival

Courtesy of Saint Arnold

A group of employees represented Saint Arnold at the awards.

It’s the first time Saint Arnold has won the Brewery of the Year award since 2017. The local favorite also earned Gold Medals in two categories — English Ale for its Elissa IPA and Golden or Blonde Ale for Fancy Lawnmower. In total, Saint Arnold has won 29 medals at the event, according to a statement.

Considered the most prestigious awards in the beer world, the Great American Beer Festival features 250 beer experts judging entries in 99 beer categories that cover 175 styles of beer. Overall, the judging panels consider more than 9,000 entries from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

“Winning Brewery of the Year is pretty gosh darn gratifying,” Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner said in a statement. “Winning a second one is unexpected because it’s so rare. It’s a reflection on the quality of our entire team as well as the beers we brew.”

The timing couldn’t have been more auspicious. Saint Arnold will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2024.

Two other Houston breweries also took home hardware. EaDo’s True Anomaly Brewing took home a Gold in the Contemporary American-Style Lager for Scout and a Silver in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer for Sea of Waves. Karbach Brewing won a Gold in the Non-Alcohol Beer category for its Free & Easy Belgian-Style White.

See a full list of winners at AmericanCraftBeer.com.

Beyoncé reigns supreme with Megan Thee Stallion cameo in jaw-dropping Houston Renaissance Tour opening night

bey run the world

How much does Beyoncé love Houston? Enough to turn the first of her two-night H-Town concert tour stop into an all-out and unforgettable celebration of her fans, friends, and her beloved hometown.

Late Saturday September 24 at NRG Stadium, Queen Bey proved once again that she rules all in a night boasting a Megan Thee Stallion cameo, fellow native Houstonians Lizzo and original, founding Destiny’s Child members in the crowd, and a three-hour, jaw-dropping, sometimes breathtaking journey.

Houston’s love for their queen was so palpable on Saturday, September 24 at NRG Stadium that even the usually grouchy traffic cops became hype men. “I can’t hear you: who’s ready to see Beyoncé!?” bellowed a middle-aged traffic Metro officer.

The crowd entering NRG formed a sea of sparkling sequins, silver cowboy hats, and silver boots, per Beyoncé’s request for silver or shiny looks for her worldwide Renaissance Tour stops. It was as much a fashion show as a concert: sequin dresses, denim skirts, mesh tanks, fringe masks, bootie-revealing shirts, and high heels on Beyhive members of every gender and age. Beyoncé didn’t need an opening act: the spontaneous singalongs made for the perfect pre-party.

After a giddy wait, Beyoncé rose from under the stage, positively resplendent in a black polka-dot dress, pearls, and white gloves as wind blew through her blonde locks. Opening with the dramatic “Dangerously in Love 2” from the album that launched her career, she held long, drawn-out notes as the band went silent, reminding all that she’s more than an icon, she’s a supremely talented vocalist.

“H-Town, it's goin’ down...”

Flashing her million-dollar grin, the queen decreed, “Oh tonight, H-Town, it's goin’ down,” for the homecoming. “Thank you for your love and loyalty. This is my gratitude tour. I’m so grateful to be on this stage, back home in Houston, Texas.”

“I can travel to any country around the world, but you ain’t ever gonna take the country out of this girl. I represent y’all everywhere I go, and I wanna make you proud.”

She breathlessly went through “1+1” while kicking up a leg and sitting atop a piano. She rose and strutted across the long catwalk into the packed floor for “I Care,” and channeled Tina Turner in “River Deep - Mountain High,” which she dedicated to Turner, her “idol.”

A dazzling video interlude took viewers into a Sci-Fi journey of chrome mazes and robots riding rockets. When “RENAISSANCE” popped on the scream, the crowd shrieked as Beyoncé remerged, standing with her fist up in a shimmering silver catsuit, sunglasses, and tall boots, going into “I’m That Girl,” “Cozy” and the spacey “Alien Superstar” from the Renaissance album.

This wasn’t a typical show where fans sang back to classics and stayed silent during new material: fans sang back every lyric to every song, regardless of era. No surprise that NRG rocked when she broke in “Crazy in Love,” her 2003 hook-filled announcement to the world with (now) husband Jay-Z, and the ultimate girl powered “Run the World (Girls).”

It should cost a billion for these fits

And the costumes, oh, the costumes. In each sonic journey, Beyoncé emerged in radiant shine, camouflage, and even a flame-adorned cowboy hat. Nowhere is her “PURE/HONEY” lyric, “It should cost a billion to look this good,” more fitting than with these show-stopping fits.

Our Behyive was also treated to a “Thique,” “All Up In Your Mind,” and “Drunk in Love,” — fans and critics have tracked that Beyoncé has only performed those three songs four times on this tour.

Like a Method actress working through various roles, Beyoncé channeled a forlorn lover, a fierce empress (especially in “Break My Soul”), a sexy siren, an android goddess — she emerged from a robotic costume “case” that mechanically opened for her — and even a towering, metallic queen bee (see what she did there) TV anchor in “America Has A Problem.”

When she bellowed “I told you I’m a f*cking problem,” in “All Up in Your Mind,” she evoked screams of affirmation. When the gifted singer screamed into the mic — a throat killer for vocalists on tour — and went back into her flawless tones and surging, almost operatic vibrato, Beyoncé reminded that she’s a multi-faceted, complex, self-actualized woman and not just a mere brand.

Megan Thee Stallion and Blue Ivy, y'all

And she’s a proud mother who couldn’t hold back her glee when her daughter Blue Ivy came onstage, seeming almost shocked by the crowd roar. Blue Ivy flashed a heart-hands symbol and popped into dance moves as her mom cheered her on.

The proud mom also cheered on a fellow Houston native and pop superstar Megan Thee Stallion, who bounced onstage for a savage cameo in “Savage Remix.” Spitting rhymes, strutting, and flexing her signature dance moves, Megan waved to fans and paid homage to the queen, squealing “I love you, Beyoncé!” and spinning on the catwalk.

Breathtaking sounds and sights

Rarely has three hours passed so quickly, thanks to bumping video and music interludes, which turned NRG into a club. Cinematic imagery rivaled any movie, and the band’s solo chops — especially on guitar, bass, and drum — made for its own show. Her backup singers alone, who dropped a song in a break, could also be their own act

Dance has always been an integral part of a Beyoncé performance, led by Beyoncé herself, who’s as limber as a gymnast, and her awe-inspiring dancers like Les Twins — who mixed dance with Cirque du Soleil acrobatics — and the vamping, voguing diva Honey Balenciaga.

Owning the stage with the swagger of a champion, Beyoncé displayed the theatricality and edginess of Lady GaGa, the irresistible charm of Taylor Swift, and the ageless physical prowess of Jennifer Lopez. It’s mind-boggling that at 42, Beyoncé looks, moves, and sounds nearly half her age — but with grown-woman mastery.

All hail Queen Bey

In a blink, it was 12:30 am, and the the queen mounted the silvery disco horse — fans call it Reneigh — and soared over the crowd for “Summer Renaissance.”

“No matter where I go, I always keep Houston with me,” she told the screaming, weeping crowd,” like a fairy godmother floating away. “I will always rep for Houston.”

With one NRG Stadium show left on Sunday, September 24, fans from around the country have scored tickets. “I just knew Houston would be different,” a fan told us afterwards, who flew in from Washington, D.C. “I just knew it would be special.”

What better proof that pop’s reigning and undisputed queen will always rep for Houston.

Beyonc\u00e9 Renaissance Tour Houston NRG Stadium 2023

Photo courtesy of LiveNation/Beyoncé

Return of the Queen: Beyoncé was back in fierce form.

Favorite Montrose brunch restaurant's major setback leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Favorite Montrose brunch restaurant's highly anticipated return hits setback. The restaurant's reopening has been pushed back to 2024.

2. Houston's newest soup dumpling house sets opening date in familiar Midtown space. We're looking forward to future dumpling crawls to decide on our favorite.

3. Houston pizza maestro retools his wildly successful new Heights restaurant after overwhelming response. The chef says he'd be a "supervillain" if he figured out how to meet so much demand in such a short amount of time.

4. New York Times names 2 must-try Houston eateries to coveted 50 most exciting restaurants list. A new Southern restaurant and a classic Mexican establishment made the list.

5. Ken Hoffman applauds new Texas law that fines service animal impersonators $1K. "As much as I love my dog, I don’t impose her on others," our columnist writes.