We’ve seen a lot of death this year. If that sounds overly macabre then Día de los Muertos might not be your kind of holiday. But for centuries, many have celebrated the Day of the Dead, a holiday that melds Mexico’s indigenous roots and, later, Catholic traditions. If there were ever a time to remember loved ones lost, to honor the memories of friends and family who’ve passed away, it’s now. Of course with COVID, festivities will look differently this year—mask up and keep physical distance as much as possible!—but Día de los Muertos can never die.
Whether you want to score some Mexican sweet bread or place a photo at an ofrenda, or altar, we have some ideas for you below.
Where to Find Treats Now
The Jefferson Boulevard newcomer doesn’t have any holiday-specific events or specials. Instead, Gerardo Barrera’s coffee shop is a love letter to Mexico every single day. You’ll always be able to order Mexican coffee or espresso drinks served in traditional clay cantaritos. Right now, the pasty case is full of colorful conchas and pan de muerto. The latter is a Día de Los Muertos sweet bread, here with either regular sugar or a black sugar made by burning corn husks into a dark ash (don’t fret; it’s all look, no burnt flavor).
La Casita Bakeshop
As the first sign of fall, this Richardson bakery has been cranking out seasonally inspired treats: pumpkin tres leches, butternut squash bread, spooky Halloween baked goods aplenty. Baker Maricsa Trejo’s ode to the holiday is her red velvet skull cakes—a nod to the sugar skulls often set at ofrendas—decorated with a cream cheese frosting. Preorders open on Wednesday (pick up on Saturday); the bakery is open with limited capacity, but preordering guarantees your goods.
Every year, this Bishop Arts chocolate boutique does something special for Día de los Muertos. This year, there is no usual festival, but you can get their special Ofrenda Box. It includes two chocolate calaveras (skulls), one dancing skeleton, three paper Cempasuchitl flowers, a Dia de Los muertos nicho (folk art), one mini calavera or muertos papel picado, paper-mache skeleton, and a box of mezcal and tequila truffles. Do note: There’s only a limited amount of these boxes, but other a la carte items are available in store.
Where to Celebrate
Saturday, October 31
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents a Día de los Muertos concert celebrating Mexican heritage with a vibrant program featuring the music of Mexican composers and dances from Anita M. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. The family-friendly concert is at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 31 at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Tickets are available for season subscribers, and there are a limited number of single tickets available for $9. A recording of the concert will later be available to view online as part of the DSO Next Stage online concert series.
Cara Mia Theatre and the League of United Latin American Citizens are holding a Día de los Muertos remembrance protest caravan on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in honor of the Latinos who have died because of COVID-19. The socially distanced car caravan is a “cultural celebration of the lives lost to the pandemic while also challenging the political events surrounding their deaths.” There will be three giant, 12-foot-tall calaveras on view, which were handmade for the event. The skeleton caricatures include La Abuelita, to honor the Latino maternal spirit; La Calavera Covida, a symbol of the deadly virus; and La Calavera Trompuda, which will display the words, “Not My Fault.” The caravan is taking place downtown at the Cathedral Guadalupe. To join the caravan, email [email protected].
Sunday, November 1
Día de los Muertos Festival at Maroches Bakery means the Oak Cliff bakery will host live music from local cumbia artist Papi Chulo, lots of artisan crafts, and eats from places like Frida’s Tacolandia—yes, they should have their famous tacos de birria in tow. And it’s not a Maroches party without sculptural skulls and plenty of pan.
CocoAndré in Bishop Arts’ annual Day of the Dead Festival that has run for over a decade is canceled this year. But the chocolate shop still wanted to connect with community. So for two nights, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on November 1 and 2, visit their Día de los Muertos Walk-Thru Art Show. They will convert the storefront into a larger-than-life community ofrenda. Bring flowers, treats, trinkets, or a photo copy (you won’t get these back because of COVID so leave the original at home) of loved ones for the big altar. Masks are required.
Monday, November 2
Downtown taqueria Taco La Ventana will have live music, drink specials, and, of course, tacos. The party runs from 5 until 9 p.m. Per the event page: COVID safety protocols will be adhered to with social distancing and mask requirements while not eating and drinking.
Head to Crown Hill Memorial Park between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. for its Sixth Annual Día de los Muertos Celebración hosted by family-owned funeral home Hughes Family Tribute Center. This cemetery near Bachman Lake is traditionally visited by families on Día de los Muertos and is also the site of Bonnie Parker’s grave. Because of COVID-19 safety precautions, the performers (which include Tharpo the Clown, a Mayan dancer of Grupo Pakal, and Mariachi Michocan) will be strolling through at a distance. Face coverings are required.
The city of Garland canceled in-person Día de los Muertos celebrations and opted to hold a virtual gathering on Monday, November 2 at 7 p.m. “Día de los Muertos: A Garland Story” is a play celebrating the history and intention of the holiday in Garland. The event will be streamed on YouTube and Facebook.
At the 30-year-old Old East Dallas staple La Acapulqueña, enjoy the Third Annual La Ofrenda Dinner. This year, the cocktail masterminds behind Los Tlacuaches, who have worked behind the bars of some of Dallas’ favorite drinking dens, have teamed up with pastry chef Diana Zamora. You may know Zamora for her work founding Project La Familia, now a part of the Harvest Food Rescue Project, or her Best of Big D: Heroes feature this year. Together, they’ll serve a three-course dinner paired ($45, includes a sugar skull to decorate and take home and a lottery card) with three cocktails (additional $30). You can buy tickets starting at $45 for a seating on November 2 or on November 3, both from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. If you miss both nights, doors open to the public at 10. Optional: Bring a photo copy of a loved one for the altar.