It’s that spooky season again. Where to live it up on or around the Day of the Dead? It’s not just about candy anymore — although it is still about blood, bones and Batman masks.
Fear the food trucks. Friday, October 26 is the last time Off the Grid will appear at Fort Mason Center until next March. They’re turning their farewell gig into a Halloween haunt with decorations, live music from Rolling Stones cover band Black Angel, a costume contest (extra points for Stones-related guises) and Halloween specials at 34 food vendors and two full bars. (Hint: beef-heart tacos and pumpkin-cuchinta ice cream.)
Off the Grid is also celebrating Halloween at its North Berkeley market on Halloween night. The theme is slow food and scary meats, with special dishes including sauteed veal kidneys, pig-ear salad, and oxtails with roasted squash.
Good gore. San Francisco’s luella restaurant is serving “Blood, Bones and Flesh” on Halloween. The notable price of $16.66 (OK, it’s not $6.66, but still) buys a glass of Steel Wines Zinfandel paired with savory, saucy riblettes. (See before-and-after photographs above and below, both supplied by luella but highly suspect.) Guests are encouraged to dine in costume.
Sharpen your knives. From Thursday, October 25 through Wednesday, October 31, Yankee Pier Larkspur invites children to its annual pumpkin-carving contest. YPL provides the pumpkins; kids can take their carved jack-o’-lanterns home with them or leave them on display at the restaurant. Prizes will be awarded after winners are announced via Facebook on Halloween.
Back to the future. San Francisco’s luxurious Clift Hotel is hosting a 6th Element Halloween Party on Halloween night with the help of local fav DJs Miguel Migs and Frank Boissy spinning house and dubstep with overtones of jazz, blues, classic rock, funk and soul. Costumes are required for this “retro-futuristic” do which will rage until 2 a.m. in the secluded Redwood Room. Reservations are suggested; email cliftredwoodroom@MHGC.com.
Dead gorgeous. The first Thursday of every month is time for “Rick’s Supper Club” — special dinners designed by chef/co-owner Rick Hackett at Oakland’s Bocanova. November 1’s Supper Club features Day of the Dead-inspired dishes (such as and mushroom-chipotle soup and wilted spinach with tequilla-soaked raisins and pumpkin seeds) and cocktails (think serrano peppers, cucumbers and tomatillos), along with wines from Heintz Vineyards and Winery. Winemaker Charles Heintz will be there to discuss his wares.
Freaky fiesta. Copita in Sausalito — founded by legendary restaurateur Larry Mindel and TV celebrity chef Joanne Weir (host of Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence, author of Tequila: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites), and featuring a mostly gluten-free menu — celebrates El Día de los Muertos on Thursday, November 1 with decorations, special dishes (spit-roasted turkey, spicy prune-tequila punch, posole with chicken, tangerine arroz con leche, and more), decorations and other dancing-with-death delights. Traditional pan de muerto and marigolds adorn a Day of the Dead altar.
Tour de freaks. The Espolón Day of the Dead Pub Crawl is a spirit-driven procession through the streets of Oakland’s historic Uptown District on November 1 from 7pm – 11pm. The pub crawl starts at Make Westing, then marches on to Dogwood, down south to Picán, and ends at Luka’s Taproom & Lounge. At every stop, Espolón Tequila will feature a special cocktail created by the mixologists at the establishment in question; fun activities will augment the freaky fun along the way. Bocce-ball temple Make Westing will serve the deadly and delicious Duende (Espolón Tequila Blanco, mango, lime, serrano chile, Grand Marnier, Mexican-spiced rim). Dogwood will serve the Widow’s Kiss (Espolón Tequila Reposado, Vida Mezcal, local honey, lime, house-made hibiscus syrup, with a half black salt rim. Picán will serve Sam Babalola’s VooDoo Punch (Espolón Tequila Reposado, spiced rum, pomegranate juice, orange juice, blood orange bitters). Luka’s, the last stop in the procession, will be serving a Pomegranate Margarita (Espolón Tequila Blanco, agave syrup, pomegranate syrup, salt & sugar rim, fresh pomegranate-seed garnish).
La Mar Masquerade. Also in San Francisco on Halloween night, La Mar Cebichería Peruana celebrates a different holiday, Peru’s national Day of the Creole Song, aka Día de la Canción Criolla. Costumes are encouraged (and their wearers will be rewarded with prizes) and the celebration includes festive decor, seasonal cocktails, music for dancing by a live criolla band, and special dishes augmenting the regular menu created by La Mar’s owner, internationally renowned chef Gastón Acurio.
— Anneli Rufus