by Steven Doyle
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Though related, the two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Sure, the theme is death, but the point is to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don funky makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.
Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. For these pre-Hispanic cultures, death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum. The dead were still members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit—and during Día de los Muertos, they temporarily returned to Earth. Today’s Día de los Muertos celebration is a mash-up of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Christian feasts. It takes place on November 1 and 2—All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on the Catholic calendar—around the time of the fall maize harvest.
You work up a hunger and thirst traveling from the spirit world back to the realm of the living. At least that’s the traditional belief in Mexico. Some families place their dead loved one’s favorite meal on the altar. Other common offerings:
Pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, is a typical sweet bread (pan dulce), often featuring anise seeds and decorated with bones and skulls made from dough. The bones might be arranged in a circle, as in the circle of life. Tiny dough teardrops symbolize sorrow.
Sugar skulls are part of a sugar art tradition brought by 17th-century Italian missionaries. Pressed in molds and decorated with crystalline colors, they come in all sizes and levels of complexity.
Drinks, including pulque, a sweet fermented beverage made from the agave sap; atole, a thin warm porridge made from corn flour, with unrefined cane sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla added; and hot chocolate.
Las Almas Rotas is celebrating Día de los Muertos November 2 from 6 pm to 2am and will include a night of music, mole and mezcal. Last year was amazing and this year will be even better. They are bringing in Los Nahuatlatos from San Antonio for a live show with Dallas’ Devil Tracks playing after. Vaqueros Texas BBQ will be doing an early evening pop up and Revolver Taco Lounge will be doing a late night pop up out front. Photo Wagon will be there for recuerdos of your night and we’ll have drink specials featuring Ilegal Mezcal and Espolòn Tequila and mole specials all night long. We’ll have delicious chocolate calaveras filled with mole mousse from CocoAndré Chocolatier. There will be a face painter doing calavera makeup out front and a tattooer in back for a more permanent reminder. We will also have a traditional ofrenda set up so feel free to bring photos and offerings for your departed loved ones you wish to honor. Best of all this event is free to the public.
Wild Salsa: brings regional Mexican flavors to a menu ranging from à la carte street tacos to platos fuertes like the Lamb Shank Barbacoa for dinner. All of their food is made from scratch each day, using locally sourced fresh ingredients, providing an experience unlike any other. Have a seat at the bar, and try a Wild Rita with roasted pineapple and jalapeño infused tequila – or try a tequila flight, selecting from the more than 100 tequilas on their shelves.
Taqueria La Ventana: On Friday, Nov. 2, all four Taqueria La Ventana locations will be hosting an unforgettable Day of the Dead event. From 6-9 p.m., revelers of all ages are invited to purchase delicious Mexico City street food while dancing to music spun by DJs at the taqueria’s Addison, Cedar Springs and Downtown locations. Modelo Especial cans will be available during the event for just $3.50 and guests can also get Modelo swag from the Modelo girls who will be stopping by locations throughout the night.
In honor of El Dia de los Muertos tradition, the Addison and Downtown locations will also be serving complimentary Mexican Hot Chocolate paired with Pan de Muertos – a traditional sweet roll traditionally baked for the holiday.
An expert face painter will be on-site at all four locations, helping attendees get into the spirit of the day. And for the sacred occasion, special ofrendas (altars) will be built at each of the restaurants to honor the deceased, featuring traditional sugar skulls, marigolds, food and beverages.
Throughout the evening, guests will be transported to the bustling, vibrant streets of modern Mexico while choosing from nine meat and veggie options to fill their taco, burrito, bowl or salad. There’s simply no better place this side of the border to celebrate El Dia de los Muertos.
The Day of the Dead festival is only taking place on Nov. 2. So round up your amigos and head to one of the four Taqueria La Ventana locations to eat, drink, celebrate and raise a toast to loved ones who have passed on.
On Thursday, November 1 Mexican Sugar will host its Dia de los Muertos Clase Azul Pairing Dinner featuring five meticulously crafted courses uniquely paired with Clase Azul cocktails. The menu will feature the following:
Course 1: Red Snapper Crudo
Gulf red snapper, aji ricotto, shaved fennel, heirloom tomato, radish, avocado and citrus juices paired with Villa Ritta – Clase Azul Plata, Grand Marnier, lime and agave
Course 2: Calado de Camaron
Traditional shrimp broth soup paired with Villa Ritta – Clase Azul Plata, Grand Marnier, lime and agave
Course 3: Orange & Achiote Pork Tamale
Orange achiote braised pork belly, corn masa, black bean purée, pickled mango salad, cotija cheese paired with La Maravilla (marigold) – Clase Azul Mezcal, Maraschino Liquer Amaro Nonino, blood orange and lime
Course 4: Jalisco Beef Tenderloin
Spice seared beef tenderloin, jumbo lump crabmeat, añejo and guajillo butter sauce
Course 5: Chocolate Tequila Mousse
Citrus calavera, candied marigold paired with Ofrenda – Clase Azul Plata, Godiva white chocolate liquer and la pinta
To reserve a spot for the Clase Azul Pairing Dinner call 972-943-0984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cantina Laredo is celebrating Dia de los Muertos with several cocktails in a giveaway glass available now through the first weekend of November. Each week will feature a different hand-crafted cocktail in a commemorative Cantarita clay cup with an augmented reality image. The drinks are available at all Cantina Laredo locations nationwide.