Adults may have ruined Halloween by turning it into a two-week frenzy of booze and boobs (where every costume is a "sexy" something-or-other), but so far, Día de Muertos, the more traditional, culturally resonant holiday that spans several days and celebrates friends and family who have died, has remained relatively unsullied by commercialism. Rather than turning the event into another reason to swig mass-produced beers and tequila, a few establishments around town are offering something a little more family-oriented and relevant. Of course, drinks will be available, but you won't be dodging elbows from costumed drunks at the bar.
From Thursday, October 31, through Sunday, November 3, Kachina Cantina, at 1890 Wazee Street, will celebrate Día de Muertos with dinner specials of pork tamal ranchero with mulato chili sauce, pozole rojo with pork shoulder, and churros with dulce de leche. You'll be able to design your own pillar candle and leave mementos at the ofrenda (display of offerings for the dead). Call 720-460-2728 or visit the restaurant's website for details and reservations.
The atmosphere at Centro Mexican Kitchen is always festive, but on Friday, November 1, the Boulder eatery, at 950 Pearl Street, is rolling out an all-day Día de Muertos Family-Style Feast with "an abundance of delicious food and drink, including carne asada fajitas and a parrillada platter with carnitas, camarones and media pollo." Come back from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, for Centro's Resurrection Brunch; make reservations and get other details by calling 303-442-7771.
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On Saturday, November 2, at Comida (inside the Stanley Marketplace at 2501 Dallas Street, Aurora), the staff will all have their faces painted, and you can, too, for a small fee. Artist Emiko Martinez will be on hand from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. for face painting, and there will also be an ofrenda to honor the dead with their favorite things. Kids are welcome; there will be temporary tattoos, stickers and other activities for los niños. Meanwhile, grownups can enjoy a special margarita and happy-hour pricing all day (from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Go to eatcomida.com or call 303-484-1632 for more information.
Dos Luces pays tribute to traditional Mexican and Peruvian brewing techniques with its modern versions of pulque (made from fermented agave sap) and chicha (which uses corn instead of barley as the primary grain). From noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, the brewery, at 1236 South Broadway, will offer Día de Muertos festivities in its charming taproom. Along with the release of Azteca Pulque, made with maguey sap, malted blue corn, cinnamon, cacao nibs, cocoa, chocolate and a hint of cayenne, there will be sugar-skull painting, with traditional sugar skulls provided by Potter’s Touch from 3 to 6 p.m.; live entertainment by Trevor Toms; and a food truck, along with candy for the kids. Entry is free, but Dos Luces requests that you RSVP at facebook.com/doslucesbrewery, and you'll need to purchase $30 tickets in advance at eventbrite.com for sugar-skull painting. Call 720-379-7763 for details.
The former Olinger Mortuary, 1575 Boulder Street, is an appropriate place to honor the dead. Lola Coastal Mexican calls part of the building home, and will help guests toast family past and present beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 2. There will be music from Los Bohemios at 8 p.m., food and drink specials, a traditional Día de Muertos ofrenda where you can place your offerings, Mexican pan de muerto, a complimentary cup of hot chocolate, sugar-skull face painting for kids from noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m., and cookie decorating for kids during brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Special dishes for the celebration include wild mushroom quesadillas, carne asada sopes, ancho chiles rellenos stuffed with orange cream cheese and topped with nogada (walnut) sauce, and a Devil's Blood margarita. Visit Lola's website or call 720-570-8686 for more information.