How to Have a Perfect Cinco de Mayo Despite the Lime Shortage

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Photo by Sharon Mollerus via Flickr

The story of the drug war has become the story of limes.

A staggering 97% of limes Americans consume are imported from Mexico, and a combination of disease and a massive storm in Mexico has sharply driven up the price of the citrus. The price hike has spurned opportunism from Mexican drug cartels who have been seizing trucks with limes en route to the U.S., further driving up the cost. Limes previously averaged $50 a case, but now a case goes for as high as $140.

All of this in time for Cinco de Mayo, a holiday where Americans love nothing more than to sip on margaritas and garnish tacos with fresh squeezes of lime.

Take Yelper Brad N. of Venice, for instance, who had an unpleasant experience at Kay ‘N Dave‘s in Culver City as a result of the lime shortage:

“WORST margarita i’ve ever had! I asked for fresh lime and the server told me a story about the drug cartels in Mexico cornering the market on them so they we’re out. I had mentioned to him that i was at Ralph’s supermarket earlier in the day and they had plenty of limes. His response? “they weren’t cost effective for the restaurant” So i asked for lemons (which i had to ask for 2 more times during my visit). WTF? When did we stop caring about the customers.”

And Ali R. of Los Angeles bemoaned her vodka soda sans lime:

“I went there the other night with a friend and her young son. First, I ordered a vodka soda with limes – they told me they do not have limes. Seriously? No limes to be found yet you serve margaritas and an entree called ‘LIME’ chicken.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Try some of these recipes (below) of tried and true Mexican dishes and margaritas that don’t require any lime at all. Even if you spot them at Ralphs.


Matthew Biancaniello’s Limeless Margarita

Pati Jinich’s Favorite Tamal of All Time

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Brick Layer Tacos

Mexican Rice

Let us know how you’re going limeless and if you’ve found any winning citrus experiments.