Create Your Own Mexican Dinner Night Out
With most of us staying close to home these days, it’s important to find ways to elevate our everyday to something at least a little bit special. To that end, how about hosting a Mexican-inspired night for friends, in your backyard or on your patio or balcony (or with a few adjustments, even in the park)?
You can invite just a few best buddies or turn it into a fiesta with a larger gang. Either way, an authentic Mexican night can be super-easy and budget-friendly—with all the fun but none of the expense of going to Mazatlán or Mexico City!
Create the sights, sounds and awesome tastes to turn your outdoor summer evening into a casual-but-special Mexican-moment-to-remember.
5 Tips on creating your authentic Mexican-inspired summer soiree
Set the scene
Setting the scene for your soiree doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be colourful!
To start, choose a colour scheme: Traditional Mexican colours encompass different shades of reds, blues, fuchsia and gold (think of a traditional poncho). But, especially for summer, bright pastels like yellow, hot pink, turquoise and orange will relay that sizzling Latin vibe!
It’s easy to create a colourful palette going with a red/blue/fuchsia tablecloth, table runner or placemats highlighted with yellow napkins. Plastic or paper cups and plates are always best for outside, and luckily they come in an array of colours. Mix and match different hues for a casual, festive atmosphere.
Create a centrepiece with a trio of cactuses or a bouquet of red, orange and yellow (real or paper) flowers, and you’re done decorating if you want to keep it simple.
If you want to take it up a notch. . .
Blow up balloons in different sizes and colours. Group them together on a table, tape them to a railing or even hang them from some low tree branches.
Or hang round coloured paper lanterns in different sizes and colours from tree branches or the overhang of your deck.
Amp up the atmosphere by putting small strings of battery-operated white or coloured lights inside empty Corona or wine bottles. Place them on your tables or bar, and voilà (or in Spanish Y Listo!)—instant romantic Latin vibe.
Set up a nacho bar
Let guests create their own little plates of nachos as an appetizer. The star of the show? Guacamole, of course! Pick up some gauc and chips . . . or maybe you want to impress your guests with your homemade recipe for tortilla chips? Try Casa Mendosa™ Baked Tortilla Chips and Guacamole. It takes just a few simple ingredients to add up to big flavour. To make tortilla chips, take Casa Mendosa™ triple-baked tortillas, cut them into chip-size pieces, drizzle with olive oil and salt, bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Get the full recipe for tortilla chips and guacamole here.
To create the nacho bar: Set out the nachos and chips each in their own colourful serving bowl (or two bowls each) with smaller bowls around them. Set out some serving spoons. Fill the smaller bowls with different types of toppings: cheddar, cotija, queso fresco cheeses, chopped fresh tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, radishes, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, mango chunks, pepitas, olives and chopped green onions.
Lastly, put out individual plates or bowls for each guest to create their personalized nachos dish. Which friend will be a purist and go for just chips and guac? Which will pile their plate high with every last topping?
Want to serve up more veggies filled options to your crowd? Try some flavourful Black Bean Tostados.
For dessert, set out some tropical fruit like mango, pineapple, guava and kiwi. Then, take your flour tortillas to a whole new level with these Ice Cream Churro Tacos.
Check out these other Mexican-inspired meals.
Set up a bar
What’s an authentic Mexican-inspired evening without some frosty beverages? Keep it simple with light beer in a cooler or ice-filled bucket, make-ahead margaritas and some fruity and refreshing non-alcoholic sangria.
The sangria is completely customizable, depending what you have on hand and what your favourite flavours are. It’s festive and fruity and looks pretty! It’s also make-ahead.
Easy non-alcoholic sangria recipe
- In a large clear-glass pitcher, mix:
- About one cup each of apple and orange juice
- About two cups of grape juice
- A tbsp. of lime or lemon juice
- Slice up a lemon, a lime, an orange and an apple (optional)
- Add fruit to the fruit juices and refrigerate for 4-6 hours for the flavours to mix.
- Before serving, add 2-3 cups of sparkling water, or for a sweeter taste, use some Sprite or 7-Up.
Next, mix up a pitcher of margaritas! Sure we like homemade margaritas, but if you want to save time and fuss, use your favourite mix, and just add tequila and ice cubes. For frozen margaritas, 24 hours or so before your Mexican night, place the margarita mixture into a freezer-proof container with a lid. Cover and store in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve it, you want it to have a slush-like consistency. Pour into a clear glass pitcher and place on the bar.
Also on your bar, have a glass of lime slices and tongs or a fork for guests to add to their margaritas, sangria or beer.
Nice but not necessary: Pick up colourful paper umbrellas at the dollar store to add to drinks.
Make a game of it: Want to create a little low-key fun ice-breaker? Count out some pinto or dry black beans and put them in a jar. Set it on the bar and set out some colourful note paper and a pen. As everyone pours themselves a drink, get them to write down their guess as to how many beans are in the jar. Give a prize for the closest guess (or two prizes for the best two guesses.)
Don’t forget to dress the part
Consider asking your guests to dress for the fiesta! As host of Mexican night, you may not want to go all-out cliché and kitschy as a sombrero and poncho, but a multicoloured shirt or embroidered dress will keep you in the spirit.
Get in tune
Last but not least, don’t forget the music! Check out Spotify for some Mexican Fiesta soundtracks, or create your own playlist. Some Latin-flavour songs to get you started:
- Mexico by James Taylor
- Tequila by The Champs
- La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
- Oye Como Va by Santana
- Despacito by Luis Fonsi / Justin Bieber
- Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo
- South of the Border by Frank Sinatra
- Tijuana Taxi by Herb Alpert
- Mexico by Bob Moore & His Orchestra
- Cielto Lindo by Count Basie
- Mexican Hat Dance by various artists
- Vaya Con Dios by Les Paul and Mary Ford
- La Cucaracha by various artists
- Cuando Calienta el Sol by Luis Miguel
Keep in mind, the more upbeat songs are best for before dinner, and quieter ones during dinner.