How Hoboken + Jersey City Celebrate Day of the Dead

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It might seem like every stoop and storefront in Hudson County is decked out for Halloween this month, but some are dressing up for a completely different occasion: Day of the Dead {Día de Muertos}. The multi-day Mexican festival {October 31st-November 1st} centers on remembering and celebrating deceased loved ones rather than mourning them. Families welcome the souls of relatives back to Earth with colorful altars featuring sugar skulls, favorite foods, and other offerings. Areas of Mexico and the United States celebrate with bright parades, face painting, and music. Read on for a look at how some local businesses and organizations are recognizing Day of the Dead.

Orale Mexican Kitchen {341 Grove Street, Jersey City + 1426 Willow Avenue, Hoboken}

orale day of the dead

It feels a bit like Day of the Dead year-round at Órale Mexican Kitchen. Painted skulls line the walls, and the main dining room and cocktail lounge are called the Live Room and the Dead Room, respectively. The original Jersey City location will celebrate with a brunch and a DJ on October 27th.

But the new Hoboken outpost will host a different kind of celebration for its first Day of the Dead: an indoor block party. Instead of competing with Hoboken’s many evening bar parties around Halloween, the restaurant will transform into a daytime market with guacamole and quesadilla stations, a mariachi band, face painting, and plenty of margaritas and Mexican beer. The goal, says manager Carlos Montoya, is to appeal to Hoboken’s growing community, including groups of friends and families with kids. 

Órale will take its Day of the Dead decor to the next level during the block party. Both the entrance and the Dead Room will have ofrendas {altars} with offerings such as pan de muertos, cigars, and liquor. The restaurant will also bring in traditional sugar skulls from Mexico. Diners are encouraged to ask staff members about Day of the Dead traditions.  

The block party will be held on October 27th from 12:00PM-4:00PM. Tickets cost $45 per person {+ tax and gratuity} and can be reserved at oralemk.com or by emailing events@oralemk.com

See More: Mezcal Kitchen: Mexican Fare in Journal Square 

Charrito’s {518 Washington Street, Hoboken}

charritos day of the dead

More Day of the Dead traditions come to life at Charrito’s in Hoboken {518 Washington Street}. This month the restaurant looks like a scene out of the vibrant Disney and Pixar movie Coco {the movie follows an aspiring musician’s journey to the Land of the Dead}. The entire staff helps with the transformation, stringing rows and rows of paper cempasúchil {marigold flowers} into a canopy over the dining room. Outside, diners are greeted by life-size female skeletons called Catrinas dressed in fancy hats and dresses. Smaller decorative skeletons hang from the walls and line the staircase. All of the figures and decorations are handmade by artisans in Mexico.

Read More: Halloween 2019: Family Parties + Events in Hoboken + Jersey City

Riverview-Fisk Park {Jersey City}

day of the dead

Farms in the Heights and the Riverview Neighborhood Association are teaming up for their annual Day of the Dead celebration in Riverview-Fisk Park on Sunday, November 3rd} from 11:00AM-2:30PM. Food vendors will sell Mexican hot chocolate and pan de muertos. Festivities include free face-painting for kids, live music from a mariachi band, a dog costume contest, and a puppet parade featuring giant Day of the Dead-themed puppets made by local artists and residents. 

Mexican-American artist Santiago Cohen, who lives in Jersey City, came up with the idea to create an inclusive, art-themed Day of the Dead celebration for the community back in 2014 and has since served as the puppet parade’s artistic director. Santiago will also speak about the meaning of Day of the Dead at the event. The park will have an ofrenda, and attendees are welcome to bring photos of deceased loved ones. 

Volunteers are needed to help carry and guide the puppets. Check out riverviewfarmersmarket.org for a full schedule and a volunteer form.

Mezcal Kitchen {665 Newark Avenue, Jersey City}

mezcal kitchen inside

This JC spot is known for its authentic Mexican dishes over in Journal Square. This year, locals and tourists alike can indulge in some Day of the Dead festivities here, too. On November 1st, this JC eatery will be hosting a Mariachi band live in-house to perform for diners. While enjoying the tunes, be sure to snack on some of Mezcal Kitchen’s delicious bites.

Gringo’s {12 Coles Street, Jersey City}

gringos tacos

Known for its tacos, Gringo’s in JC will also be celebrating the Day of the Dead on Tuesday, October 29th. Swing by this Coles Street joint for $20 of endless tacos and $5 Cuervo and Sexton cocktails. Although not a traditional Día de Muertos celebration, Gringo’s will be keeping spirits up {pun intended} with a DJ and giveaways.

How will you be celebrating the Day of the Dead this year? Let us know in the comments! 

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Francesca is an editor in the features department of a national food magazine, where she writes about everything from the latest grocery and restaurant trends to the strange history of ketchup. She grew up on the Jersey Shore and couldn’t bear to leave her home state when she got her dream job in the Big Apple. After eating an unforgettable bagel sandwich in Hoboken, she decided to make the Mile Square her new home. She enjoys new books, Villanova basketball, and long walks through Trader Joe’s.


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