The annual Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos – which runs from Halloween evening through Thursday, November 2 this year – honors lost family and friends. Altars are built and bedecked with photos of the dead, along with their favorite foods and drinks to help sustain them in the afterlife. These restaurants are running specials or holding their own celebrations to help Americans to get in the spirit.
Oyamel, Washington, D.C.
Take down tacos — one cradles shredded rabbit amped with pequin chili peppers, the other features turkey braised in a broth of sour oranges and ancho chilies. Then, dig into queso fundido packed with wild mushrooms, and knock back specialty cocktails, such as the Manzi (Peloton de la Muerte mezcal, manzanilla sherry, chamomile, lemon, and cardamom bitters). Make a reservation at Oyamel.
La Palapa, New York, New York
Three beautifully bedecked altars pay homage to the annual festival, which gets an extended run through Sunday, November 5. There are a pair of celebratory cocktails, including the lime-forward Trotsky Margarita with passion fruit and blood orange accents. Limited-time dishes include pumpkin soup with toasted almonds and crema, construct-your-own barbecue braised brisket tacos, and Oaxacan black mole with roast turkey. Make a reservation at La Palapa.
The Blind Burro, San Diego, California
The two-for-one Dia de Los Burros Halloween celebration begins at 4PM on Tuesday, October 31. Indulge in $17 bottomless margaritas, taco specials, and the tequila-powered Potion De Los Muertos cocktail with an eerie beet juice float that looks like a bloodstain. There’s even a magic show from 8-10PM featuring Ben Silver. Make a reservation at the Blind Burro.
Red O, San Diego, California
It’s happy hour all day on Tuesday, October 31 so you can start the celebration early. Enjoy street tacos, live music, and discounted drinks. There are two specialty sips for the evening, including the Casa Blanca with silver tequila, clarified lime, and triple sec. Make a reservation at Red O.
Cantina La Veinte, Miami, Florida
The Brickell hotspot becomes the Haunted Hotel for the night of Saturday, October 28. Expect creepy décor and a costume contest and a DJ, who will undoubtedly spin “Thriller” at least once. Power your dance moves with the special Love Potion cocktail made with mezcal, lime juice, crème de violette, and housemade butterfly pea flower syrup (available through Wednesday, November 1). Make a reservation at Cantina La Veinte.
China Poblano, Las Vegas, Nevada
Enjoy Mexican favorites, including carne apache with beef tenderloin, nopales (cactus pads), onion, avocado, pasilla de Oaxaca, lime, and radish. Pair it with the color-changing Sagrado Corazon cocktail with white tequila, lime, and a hibiscus ice sphere. The celebrations continue through Thursday, November 2. Make a reservation at China Poblano.
I|O Godfrey, Chicago, Illinois
Get lit with this jet-black cocktail. The Dia de los Muertos margarita is accented with sage and huckleberries. It gets its haunting hue from the inclusion of activated charcoal. Make a reservation at I|O Godfrey.
Casa Pública, Brooklyn, New York
We have a new favorite phrase: large format jello shot. The meant-to-be-shared Ghouls Night Out was inspired by a Coca-Cola Slurpee, but features a kick thanks to plenty of tequila and amaro. Best of all, no brain freeze. Make a reservation at Casa Pública.
Where are you headed for Day of the Dead Celebrations 2017? Let us know here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credit: Kailley Lindman (The Godfrey).