|Sugar skulls for your Day of the Dead altars|
Border Grill Santa Monica
New exec chef Alex Moreno and the BG team created a special tequila dinner menu for tonight, including dishes like poached shrimp with tomato broth sphere, braised goat, roasted farro ragout, a slew of side dishes, and Mexican chocolate cake for dessert. Each course comes with a tequila cocktail pairing. $65 per person; call for reservations (1445 4th St.; 310-451-1655).
Over the next two days and throughout the weekend there's mask making for kids, pinatas, strolling mariachis, Aztec dancers and more for entertainment at the Birthplace of Los Angeles. On Friday (Nov. 2, 7 PM), a candlelight procession winds through the marketplace, with free pan de muerto and champburrado (a Mexican hot beverage) are served after. And you might as well pick up some taquitos, churros and tortillas after checking out the altars on display in the Plaza.
La Cuevita Highland Park's newer den of tequila wants you to paint your own sugar skull and add it to the communal altar (prizes for best skulls!), and sip on Licor Del Demonio (tequila, fresh pineapple and cayenne spices). The demonic drink and Dos Equis are only $3 through November 2. And, hey, there's face painting, kids! (5922 N. Figueroa St.; 323-255-6871).
La Tiendita Mexicana
If you don't want to paint your own sugar skulls, pick those and all your altar-building needs at the shop adjacent to the popular Bell restaurant, La Casita Mexicana. Definitely stop for a few tacos, some Azteca cheese fondue and mole while you're at it (4034 E. Gage Ave.).
Pan de Muerto
Speaking of home-spun altars: Rounds of pan de muerto, the slightly sweet traditional holiday bread, are often used to guide spirits home. Sometimes it's shaped like bones, skulls, angels or animals and often dusted in sugar or sesame seeds. Whatever the shape, it's delicious to eat (try it in bread pudding or a Mexican panzanella salad). You can find pan de muerto and most neighborhood panaderias all over LA, including El Gallo Bakery, and any of the La Monarca and La Favorita locations.