As Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations go, no one does it up bigger (in Portland, anyway) than Southeast Division’s upscale Mexican spot Xico. Far from a somber funeral procession, the Day of the Dead dwells in that enchanting middle ground between sentimental elegy and all-out party.
For those looking to toast theirr dearly departed—or sample really good mezcal and sinister face paint—consider letting the folks at Xico chaperone you through their distinctly decadent land of the dead. While Xico will be open regular hours and offering the usual dinner menu, there are some Day of the Dead surprises.
The marigold altar: As tradition dictates, Xico will once again set up a tissue paper shrine of remembrance. Guests are encouraged to bring photographs of their loved ones and place them on the altar so that they may dine with them in spirit.
Painted skulls: Hung magnificently throughout the restaurant, a smattering of colorful, crafty, life-size skulls will take vigil over the night's proceedings.
Painted faces: Expect to be seated by an especially spirited hostess. All staff members will be made up with intricate skull faces, as is customary.
Goat barbacoa Oaxaquena: Shimanek Bridge Farm goat, slow-roasted with sesame, thyme, and chiles, and served with fresh tortillas.
Ribeye steak with celery mash: a 30-day dry-aged steak served off-the bone with garlic-lime butter and Mexico City-style angry chiles.
Carnitas dinner: pork shoulder, Xico salsas, fresh green salad, house-made chicharron, avocado, and grilled onion.
Fresh, wild seafood ceviche
Owner Liz Davis encourages guests to drink mezcal traditionally (neat, with worm salt and oranges), with rare flights sourced from Oaxaca and elsewhere.
Special cocktails. One mixes mezcal, Absinthe, Crème de Cassis and fresh rosemary; the other stars Reposado tequila blended with ginger liquor, Mexican Fernet and brown sugar. And, our personal favorite (get ready—the recipe will appear in our December issue), Xico’s hot chocolate: a three-chocolate melt (including Woodblock’s Madagascar chocolate), blended with habanero, rich house caramel, whipped cream, and most importantly, Amaras Cupreata Mezcal.
Xico’s Day of the Dead
When: Wednesday, Nov 2, 5–10 p.m.
Where: 3715 SE Division St