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Cheap Eats -- Cinco de Mayo

Fresh flavors and zippy ingredients separate Cinco de Mayo from the rest of the pack


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What makes Cinco de Mayo in downtown Walnut Creek stand out from the crowd? “The flavor,” says owner Victor Barajas, and he’s right.
It’s not the seaside villas painted on the walls, the bamboo-thatched awning, or the faux-adobe walls that take you straight to Jalisco; it’s the authentic ingredients—soft corn tortillas, lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, and chipotle mayo in the fish tacos; chocolate, chili, almond, and sesame seeds in the mole sauce.

And you can take this culinary trip for under $5: Choose from tacos $2 ($3.50 with fish or shrimp), enchiladas ($2.50), chiles rellenos ($3.50), or chimichangas ($4). Help yourself to free chips and salsa at the bar to make it a meal. Or for slightly larger appetites (and budgets), try the chilaquiles ($6.75) or the chicken mole poblano ($7). You can even create your own combo, pairing any two items on the menu. Top it off with dessert: Flan, mini churros, and buñuelos (fried tortillas dusted with cinnamon sugar) ring up at $2 each.

Family-infused: Barajas runs Cinco de Mayo with his wife, Maria, and two brothers, who manage locations in Clayton, Concord, and Martinez. Flavor combinations are inspired by Barajas’ having grown up on a family farm near Guadalajara.
Veggie-friendly: With a style of food that often includes tongue and beef cheeks, it’s tough to be a vegetarian. Luckily, Cinco de Mayo will replace any meat dish with tofu.
Una cerveza, por favor?: The restaurant is in the process of getting its alcohol license, which will soon allow diners to sip Coronas on the patio, daydreaming about that next trip to Puerto Vallarta.

Cinco de Mayo, 1372 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 954-1050. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

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