Bring Out the Dead: Dia de Los Muertos in Los Angeles

Have a celebration at home with these regional dishes.

Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pre-hispanic civilizations in what is now Mexico. What a lot of people don’t know is that it’s also celebrated throughout Latin America, Europe, the Phillipines, and in Oceania. The Roman Catholic Church has adopted this cultural tradition, preserving it for generations to come. Dia de Los Muertos takes place over three days: October 31 (All Hallows’ Eve), November 1 (All Saints’ Day), and November 2 (All Souls’ Day) in which families set up an alter and an ofrenda, or offering to their deceased relatives. 

Many L.A. restaurants and bars offer Dia de Los Muertos-themed food and drink, and Olvera Street is a great option for an introduction to celebrations like this. But if you want to be authentic, clear a small space in your home for your dearly departed’s memories. Make an altar for them, and fill it with their favorite foods, drinks, and other indulgences.

Want to spice up the festivities with authentic eats? Order food from these L.A.-based Latin American restaurants and share the dishes and memories with friends, family, and those who’ve crossed over.

El Salvador

L.A.’s best regional Salvadoran restaurant, Mis Raices, offers several types of tamales—an essential Day of the Dead food. Pick from stewed chicken or pork wrapped in a banana leaf, or order some tamales pisques, a drier, but more savory tamal filled with beans. Raices, 7539 Reseda Bl., Reseda, 818-708-1205.


Many versions of fiambre, a salad of cold cuts, cheese, vegetables, pacaya blossoms, and a vinegar-based dressing called caldillo are prepared to honor the dead in Guatemala. Just for the holiday season, you can order a fantastic version of this spread to take home from Rinconcito Guatemalteco in Hollywood. Guatemalteco, 501 N. Western Ave., Hollywood, 323-463-6602.    


Dia de Los Muertos wouldn’t be complete without mole and atole (a hot masa-based beverage), so why not call up 7 Regiones de Oaxaca, our Best Mole Negro Oaxaqueño winner for 2013, and order this award winning dish with some atole blanco? Regiones de Oaxaca, 2648 W Pico Bl., Pico-Union, 213-385-7458.

The dead never had it so good.