Save for the conspicuous consumption of candy, Halloween isn’t exactly known as a food holiday. Which is why we tend to be more partial to the Day of the Dead; a multi-day Mexican festivity — generally observed from October 31st-November 2nd — that honors deceased friends and family members with sugar skulls and other sweets (such as pan de muerto, an eggy, frosted bread), as well as tequila, mezcal, or the masa-based beverage known as atole, and all manner of time consuming specialty foods, including mole or tamales. So once you’ve got trick-or-treating out of your system (and can’t stomach the sight of another fun-sized Snickers bar), prepare for Dia de los Muertos, by scheduling a visit to the following Mexican restaurants.
Casa Neta: Boasting a downstairs lounge called the Sugar Skull Room, this Flatiron mezcaleria and tequileria is the perfect place to toast your ancestors, with one of over 60 agave-based spirits (you can also go for a cocktail, like the fruit-forward “Lo Siento,” featuring sherry, campari, rhubarb bitters and Giffard Banane du Bresil). You can even construct your own mini “altar” of small plates; such as Nopales Salad with queso fresco, Calabacitas Quesadillas, and Al Pastor Tacos, flavored with pineapple and chile de arbol.
40 E 20th St, (212) 529-7870
Guadalupe Inn: Recently opened in Bushwick by Mesa Coyoacan and Zona Rosa chef, Ivan Garcia, and named after the bohemian neighborhood of Guadalupe, the Mexican supper club/performance space offers chic, contemporary eats. So you can celebrate the Day of the Dead in style with modern takes on traditional street foods (a family-style Trompito al Pastor), sweet foods (Churros filled with goat milk caramel), and special occasion foods (Pozole Rojo, Grilled Octopus with dark plum mole, Tamales with black beans and bone marrow).
1 Knickerbocker Ave, (718) 366-0500
Tacuba/Toloache: Chef Julian Medina is commemorating the Day of the Dead from October 31st-November 2nd, with special drink and food menus at all Toloache and Tacuba locations. Since the holiday celebrates the passing of loved ones (often by cooking their favorite dishes), Medina is honoring his grandfather with Tacos de Cabeza and Barbacoa, as well as offering other fun twists on Mexican classics such as a Pumpkin Margarita for Two, Suckling Pig Tamales with dulce de leche mole, and Butternut Squash Cheesecake paired with grasshopper macaroons.
251 W 50th St, (212) 581-1818
Fonda: Celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 2nd with a four-course dinner at Roberto Santibanez’ Fonda; featuring delicacies from the central state of Tlaxcala, one of the historic food meccas of Mexico. Think Sweet Pickled Pasilla Peppers with sharp cotija cheese and Mole Verde with braised beef feet and pork, accompanied by cocktail, wine and mezcal pairings, hot chocolate and of course, the all-important Pan de Muerto.
40 Avenue B, (212) 677-4096
La Newyorkina: Fany Gerson finally opened her first brick-and-mortar branch of the Mexican popsicle purveyor, La Newyorkina; perfect timing for assembling a slew of Day of the Dead sweets. Try brand new paleta flavors like Flan, Strawberry-Cookie and Avocado-Passion fruit, a series of ice creams such as Tropical Margarita, Tres Leches and Oaxacan Chocolate, and traditional Nieve de Garrafa, a water-based Mexican sorbet.
240 Sullivan St, (646) 861-0727
El Atoradero: For all intents and purposes, a trip to El Atoradero is akin to being transported to some Mexican mamá’s tiny kitchen in Puebla, totally given over to industrious, Day of the Dead preparations of Puerco Tamales, Lengua Quesadillas, Albondigas Enchipotladas, Rabito en Adobo Rojo, and Mole Poblano de Pollo; cloaked in a sauce culled from more than 20 ingredients over the course of several days.
708 Washington Ave, (718) 399-8226