The Ultimate Not-Taco Cinco de Mayo Menu

El Original Queso

© Kalei Talwar

By Julia Heffelfinger Posted May 04, 2016

Separate yourself from the taco-obsessed masses and make this gorgeous (and insanely delicious) Mexican party spread.

Want to make an impressive Cinco de Mayo feast that your friends will remember even after a few rounds of tequila shots? Then separate yourself from the taco-obsessed, El Paso-seasoned masses and make this gorgeous (and insanely delicious) spread—complete with gooey queso, a super-easy chicken chile verde, and a fluffy Mexican chocolate cake that you’ll want to make year round.

Spiced Mango Michelada
The perfect drink for your not-taco party? A not-margarita! Skip juicing limes for days and make this fruity take on a Michelada (a Mexican beer cocktail) with tequila, mango puree and sambal oelek. If you can’t find mango puree, mango nectar is a good stand-in.

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El Original Queso
Start your dinner party off on the right foot by putting out a big bowl of this killer TexMex queso. There’s nothing froofy or refined about this cheese dip. I mean, come on—the key ingredient is Velveeta. But before you turn up your nose, know that the velveeta is what creates that silky, irresistible texture and makes the dish easy to reheat (and therefore a great make-ahead appetizer). Serve this spicy, over-the-top dip with sturdy corn tortilla chips and this fresh, crunchy Mexican Crudités platter.

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Grilled Corn with Queso Fresco and Lime-Tarragon Butter
After all of that queso, you’ll want to have something a little lighter on hand for your guests. This grilled corn takes everything that we love about Mexican street corn – the sprinkling of queso fresco, fresh lime juice and smoky chile powder – and swaps the thick smear of mayo for a lighter lime-tarragon butter. Pull back the charred husks after grilling for an easy-to-hold handle.

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Chicken Chile Verde
This flavorful and insanely easy chicken chile verde recipe is great for a dinner party—or, for that matter, for a weeknight meal. Make the cilantro-tomatillo puree the night before and then just simmer with the chicken before serving. Don’t want to do any cooking while your guests are over? Make the whole dish the night before and reheat slowly on the stove while everyone is rolling in. Set out steamed white rice, some chopped avocado, and fresh cilantro sprigs and let your guests serve themselves.

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Black Beans
You can’t have a Mexican feast without beans (this must be written in stone somewhere). These straight-forward black beans —simmered with fresh herbs and aromatics—are super flavorful and, bonus, they can be made 3 days in advance. Serve them on rice alongside the chicken chile verde with extra lime wedges and sour cream.

Food & Wine: Black Beans

© Madeleine Hill

Mexican Chocolate Chip-Pumpkin Seed Cake
Inspired by an almond cake, Rick Bayless uses salted roasted pumpkin seeds as the base for this salty-sweet dessert. The exterior has a barely-there thin crust and the interior is tender and moist, with a subtle richness from the cinnamon-scented Mexican chocolate. Seriously, make this cake. Man, make two. It’s that good.

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