In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a popular holiday ostensibly celebrating Mexican culture and the experiences of Americans with Mexican ancestry. It is now the holiday on which Americans consume the second highest amount of beer in a single day (the first being St. Patrick's Day). That Cinco de Mayo has grown into such a distinctly American, beer-soaked day is particularly interesting since it isn't widely celebrated in Mexico. Many people mistakenly believe that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day (that's actually September 16), when, in reality, it marks a Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla, when a highly outnumbered Mexican army defeated French occupying forces. Outside of Puebla, where there are colorful parades and mock battles, Cinco de Mayo in Mexico is a pretty low-key affair.
A lovely, low-key affair is what I had last Monday night at newly opened the Saint, which, according to the menu, promises "Tequila Salvation." More than tequila (of which there is plenty—over 80 different bottles of blanco, reposado, and añejo), the Saint offers warmth (white lights and walls, wood, a tiny, cozy bar) and an earnest, if highly polished, appreciation for the flavors and traditions of Mexico. I've yet to try anything beyond chips and salsa (all house-made), but the menu—a small, focused selection of dishes that take time to prepare—looks promising. Rather than chugging Corona with the masses, a quiet night at the bar at the Saint, sipping your way through potent tequila (I recommend starting with the Flight of Tequila, a rotating selection of three one-ounce pours for $21) is the more sensible way to get wasted and say viva Mexico.
The Saint, 1416 E Olive Way, 323-9922.