No spooking here- Dia de los Muertos at Oyamel is not to miss!

Chinatown's Oyamel

If, like me, you also had ten years of Spanish classes growing up, then you surely remember learning about Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that honors the dead and invites their souls to return for a celebration of food, drink, and festivities. After checking out Oyamel’s Dia de los Muertos celebration last night, I can assure you that this is NOT the festival of your youth.  Oyamel’s Day of the Dead festival, running October 17th – November 2nd, is the ideal way to celebrate the holiday you never knew you needed in your life!  This year at Oyamel, the celebration is taking its cue from the migration of the Monarch butterflies to the Oyamel fir forest in Michoacan, Mexico.  The Mexican people believe the butterflies are the souls of their dearly departed returning home.  Michoacan is Mexico’s land of the lakes and boasts an abundance of corn, frijoles, and tropical fruits.  Sounds like the perfect ingredients for a great meal!

Dia de los Muertos Altar honoring the souls of the deceased

History and geography lessons aside, the absolutely incredible food that the head chef has concocted for this festival is the reason that you MUST head to Oyamel sometime over the next two weeks.  Chef’s incredible dishes include Sopa de Calabasa con Chicharron, a butternut squash soup spiced by habanero chile and served with crunchy pumpkin seeds and crispy pork skin.  The Tortitas de papa con Hoja Santa,  fried potato fritters with cheese and epazote, have a crunchy exterior and oozing cheesy center that blends perfectly with the spicy green salsa.  But my favorite dish, by far, was the Taco de Chicharron con Naranja- or in other words, Pork Belly Taco.   YUM!  The crispy pork belly, perfectly seared, was served in a grilled corn tortilla along with an orange-jalapeno salsa.  The contrast of textures and flavor was just to die for- I think I could have easily eaten a dozen of them.

Another amazing dish- carnitas tostadas

But a true Dia de los Muertos meal wouldn’t be complete without an accompanying cocktail, and wow does Oyamel knock them out of the park!  The same spicy heat that permeates all their dishes plays a role in the cocktails as well, particularly the Jarritos- a blend of Mexcal Vida, house-made Squirt, chile pequin, and topped with sous-vide pineapple and jicama.   The Harvest Moon is truly spectacular- Mexcal, Pineapple, a Mayan liqueur, and grilled corn.  Getting my daily dose of vegetables in a cocktail?  Yes please!

Harvest Moon Cocktails with grilled corn

Oyamel’s special Dia de los Muertos menu is only available for two weeks, so don’t delay in making your reservation to check it out!  Based on the great turnout at the press dinner last night, these reservations are going to go fast.  Dia de los Muertos: a holiday rich in tradition, and a meal not to miss!

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