Tamales and Tequila for Day of the Dead

Medina is getting cooler by the day, from the annual Farm to Table Dinner to the renovations and other goings on at Mustang City. One of my favorite Medina staples is the annual Day of the Dead celebration at Mariachi de Oro. Over the last few years, the restaurant brought traditional Oaxacan food, drink and music, along with a marigold-topped ofrenda, to a small crowd gathered at the restaurant. This year, Mariachi de Oro recruited the help of multiple other Medina businesses to bring the celebration to the entire town.

The party started with crafts, snacks and stories at Main Street businesses. Cody and I weren’t able to make it to Medina for this part of the celebration. We arrived on Main Street late enough to find a parking spot but still in time for hot tamales. A party tent protected the second half of the festivities from the rain. We walked into the tent and were immediately greeted by a lively celebration.

The tent housed a huge ofrenda, community alter, sand painting by artist Antonio Cruz Zavaleta, delicious food and dance-worthy mariachi music. As per usual, the tamales lived up to our incredibly high expectations. To be honest, they were one of the biggest reasons we drove an hour in the pouring rain to celebrate Día de los Muertos.

Mariachi Band Zelaya at Day of the Dead, Medina, NY

Sand Painting at Day of the Dead, Medina, NY

After taking in mariachi band Zelaya and colorful, swirling skirts of dancing family members, we headed to Shirt Factory Cafe to sample their Day of the Dead menu. I’m not a huge tequila fan, but I am up for almost anything in the name of a cultural experience. My cucumber-tequila concoction and a flight of 123 Organic Tequila gave me a new appreciation for the liquor.

Day of the Dead at Shirt Factory Cafe

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We ended our night out with huge slices of pizza at Avanti, which is definitely not Mexican but is incredibly Medinian.

The Cutest Eateries on Anna Maria Island

Last week, I traveled to beautiful Anna Maria Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast for a long weekend of lazy days on the beach. Along with a few friends, I laid on the beach, bodysurfed in the waves, drank mimosas with breakfast every morning and ate a LOT of food.

We made good use of our rental home’s kitchen, but it’s not vacation without a few meals out. We didn’t have a chance to try everywhere we wanted to. Our bigger group kept us from trying smaller restaurants, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

Of the food we did try, we had a few favorites!

For After Dinner Drinks: The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Local beers on draft, tropical mixed drinks and frozen cocktails kept everyone happy at The Ugly Grouper. The bar gets its cool vibe from the completely open-air setting and a giant mixed media grouper statue. We had fun playing the Bimini ring game, cornhole and giant Jenga.

The Ugly Grouper has a full menu and tons of live music, but we didn’t have the chance to experience either.

For Ice Cream: Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

In typical Florida fashion, we spent one afternoon waiting for pouring rain to pass. We bundled up and headed for Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery. The gelato was amazing and so was the decor. I had a scoop of cookies and cream and a scoop of Irish cream in a waffle cone, which I highly recommend. Their coffee was delicious as well!

For Tacos and Margs: Wicked Cantina

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Wicked Cantina

No warm-weather vacation is complete without tacos and fresh margaritas. Lucky for us, Wicked Cantina‘s tacos are amazing and the margaritas come in goblet-sized glasses. The chips and salsa were truly bottomless, and both the salsa and queso were a satisfying amount of spicy.

For Fresh-Caught Grouper: Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

While not technically on the island, this seafood shack is definitely worth mentioning. After a foggy morning on the boat, we headed toward Star Fish Company‘s dock as the sun began to shine. This market/restaurant combination is located on one of the last working fishing docks in Florida. The fish is fresh, the fries are crispy and everyone there is as happy to be there as I was.