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Words by Candice Gasper
Photos by
Armando Gallardo

It’s Halloween time and with that comes trick-or-treating and pumpkins but for us, D.C. residents, it’s that time of the year when Oyamel throws one of the best events of the culinary year here in the district: Oyamel’s Day of the Dead festival.

Oyamel has become one of D.C.’s restaurants that make us locals proud. Not only are the food and cocktails a unique and flavorful experience that truly bring you back to its Mexican roots, but we love the great parties, bar scene, and our very own modern day superhero, owner José Andrés.

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While Andrés was off saving the world in Puerto Rico, we kicked off Oyamel’s Day of the Dead Festival with an abundance of boozy punches created with a variety of different spirits from Mexico, including a Mexican rum. Eight Mexican spirits were featured in tastings and in punches, including Mezcales de Leyenda, Siembra Spirits, Del Maguey Mezcal, Ilegal Mezcal, and Organic 123 Spirits Tequila Ocho. The evening showcased three specialty cocktails, our favorite being the Tisana de Juana, a mesquite-infused Siembra Azul blanco with Giffard Vanilla liqueur, piloncillo and lemon juice.

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The menu is inspired by Cesar Chavez, Oyamel’s first Mexican American to be honored at this annual festival. Chavez is best known for fighting for migrant farm workers’ rights and inspiring a new appreciation for the origins of food. This year’s menu was inspired by Chavez’s childhood in the north of Mexico. Bites we died for were the taco de conejo pastor norteno (shredded rabbit doused in chile pequin and garlic topped with salsa verde and crema), caldo de oso (not bear soup, but a Chihuahua style soup with ancho chile, Texas red fish, and pickled jalapeno), and chile relleno con picadillo de Calabaza (a vegetarian take on traditional chile relleno, to honor Chavez’s vegetarian inclinations).

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Hungry yet? Don’t worry, the festival continues into next week, and don’t miss The Ultimate Halloween Night on Tuesday October 31st for where you can try some of these tricks and treats for yourself. No costume? No problem. You can have your face painted as a sugar skull while you wait patiently for the pork tacos to be served at the carving station.

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