While Halloween is just about over, this weekend warms up with the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Beginning on October 31 and running through Sunday November 2, Día de los Muertos may sound morbid, but is actually a celebration of life. Mexicans prepare and remember their beloved departed with special foods and decorations which are placed on ofrendas, or altars, in their homes. They also attend festive all-night vigils in cemeteries, decorating graves with flowers, candles and sugar skulls, playing music and dancing. Mexicans infuse death and mourning with happiness and joy and it is life-affirming.
Since a visit to Mexico, in particular to Oaxaca or Janitzio, is not happening this year (one day…), I have discovered a few local places where I can get my dead on. Chichimecas in Farmingdale goes all-out this weekend with an elaborate ofrenda, authentic Mexican specials, cocktails, live music and face-painted staff. Chichimeca’s sibling restaurants in Huntington, Oaxaca and Quetzacoatl, also embrace the holiday with a similar carnivalesque atmosphere.
Besito, with locations in Huntington and Roslyn celebrates with ofrendas, face-painted waitstaff, traditional Mexican dishes, the finest tequilas, including tastings of Patron XO Cafe Incendio and samplings of artisanal Día de los Muertos chocolates made by Mayan chocolatier, Casa de Chocolates.
On the south shore, stop in at the newest Mexican eatery on the Island — Magic Taco Corp. in Islip Terrace. The brainchild of Steven Scallese, of Tullulah’s in Bay Shore and Devin Delgado, who cooked with Scalesse, this funky little roadside (on Sunrise Highway’s north service road) cantina serves Mexican-fusion fare and is fully imbued with a south-of-the-border vitality.
The weather forecast for this weekend is chilly and blustery. If you have little niños in tow, consider taking them to the Long Island Children’s Museum on Saturday from 2-4pm where they will learn all about the origins and traditions of Día de los Muertos. In addition, children will have an opportunity to make and decorate their own sugar skull. This event is free with paid admission to the museum. How about a Día de los Muertos movie for kids? The Book of Life is a Day-of-the-Dead-centric 3D computer-animated musical comedy film which was released nationwide last weekend. A tacos and movie date night for the entire family. ¡Divertirse!