Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas from Frank Scibelli

Cinco de Mayo is only three weeks away! It’s time to start planning…

If there is anyone is Charlotte who knows how to throw a great Cinco de Mayo party, it’s Frank Scibelli, the owner of Cantina 1511 and Paco’s Tacos & Tequila. I asked Scibelli, who frequently travels to Mexico and seriously knows his authentic ingredients, for tips on hosting your own May 5th fiesta.

First things first, Scibelli set me straight: Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican Independence Day. In fact, it’s really only celebrated in the state of Puebla in Mexico and, of course, in the United States. It’s meant to commemorate Mexico’s win over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. That said, this is still a great excuse to indulge in fantastic Mexican dishes and drinks. "Puebla is actually where mole is from," says Scibelli. "So, if you want to be authentic, serve mole." He suggests buying the sauce at one of Charlotte’s local Mexican markets.

Below Scibelli has shared several recipes for salsas and a Mexican chopped salad—all perfect for serving up on Cinco de Mayo. His two top tips though are even more useful: "You gotta have great margaritas" and "Make sure you set a rain date" (apparently it’s rained in Charlotte more times than not for the last decade of May 5ths). For your margaritas, Scibelli suggests using a blanco tequila for a brighter flavor in the drink. Not all of your guests are tequila drinkers? Pick up some Victoria beer. It’s new to the Charlotte market, but it’s been popular in Mexico for years for a good reason.

So enjoy your flavorful food and authentic drinks—and toast to, um, the Mexican army’s unlike victory in Puebla. (Oh, and if you’re not in the mood to host your own soiree, both Cantina 1511 and Paco’s Tacos & Tequila, can satiate any of your Mexican fare cravings.)

Charred Tomato Salsa

Yield: 4 Servings


8          Roma Tomatoes

4          Cloves Garlic, in paper

½         White Onion, skin on

2          Serrano Peppers

½         Bunch Cilantro

Salt to taste

Juice of 1 Lime



On a griddle, roast tomatoes, serrano peppers, garlic, and onion until softened and lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes.  Remove stems and seeds from peppers.  Remove skins from garlic and onion.

Add all ingredients to a blender.  Reserve one serrano.  Puree until smooth.  Scrape the salsa into a bowl and taste for seasoning.  Adjust with salt and reserved serrano.


 Oaxacan Pico de Gallo

Yield: 2 Servings


1 large ripe avocado, (Cut avocado in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel)

6 radishes, small dice

Juice from 1-2 limes, as needed

5-6 roma tomatoes, small dice

1 tsp. salt

1-2cups chopped cilantro

½ white onion, small dice



In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Avocados should mash a little when mixing.  Adjust seasoning and add lime juice and cilantro as needed.


Mexican Chopped Salad

Yield: 2 Servings


2oz                   chickpea beans

2oz                   corn kernels

1oz                   green onions sliced

1oz                   roasted red pepper-small diced

1oz                   red onion-small diced

2oz                   roma tomatoes-small diced

2oz                   cucumber, peeled, seeded, small diced

2oz                   cotija cheese

3cups               romaine lettuce, clean and shredded

1oz                   chipotle ranch

1tsp                  kosher salt



Reserve half of the cotija cheese and set aside

Place the remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss the salad

Season salad with salt & pepper

Dress salad with your favorite dressing and garnish with remaining cotija cheese


Categories: Dine & Dish, Food + Drink