Dining on Dia de los Muertos con Nana

Lamb Tostada | Nana

Braised lamb tostada served with 5 Rabbits vida y muerte

When Karen, all-around good egg and occasional contributor to Chicago Bites, suggested we go out for dinner on November 1, I was all for it. I like having plans for the Day of the Dead and Nana in Bridgeport is a favorite spot.

However, in the hub-bub of weather shifts, political attack ads, and holiday-avoidance, I completely spaced the part where dinner was in costume. Sigh. Karen looked smashing as a bruja version of Slash, whereas I snuck by with a combination of fancy mask and bad intent.

Smokey Pumpkin Soup | Nana

Smokey pumpkin soup with a spicy apple-rita.

Turns out dinner really was worth dressing up for. Nana’s owner, staff, and chef put on a four course spread with drink pairings that was easily worth twice the $40 per person price tag.

The meal started with a pumpkin soup topped with a salsa and dotted with cacao. Most pumpkin soup renditions I’ve had are thick, creamy, and a little too sweet. Not this one. The savory-smokey layer infused every bite and bloomed with sips of the peppered apple-rita.

Orange Rice Pudding | Nana

A mug of pumpkin atole is the perfect foil for orange rice pudding.

Since the entire restaurant was served at the same time, there was a bit of a delay between courses. I didn’t mind because we had a great view of the owner as he concocted the drinks. The next course was paired with a caramel-infused brew from 5 Rabbit, Vida y Muerte that he rimmed with cinnamon and sugar.

It was a successful pairing with a delicious tostada of braised lamb topped with feta. The roasted peppers came into sharper focus and were accented, not overpowered, by the sweetened hops. It was my favorite dish and I only hope it stays on the menu.

Flautas | Nana

Flautas paired with a fruit-y tepache.

Tepache, a fermented beverage made of pineapple rinds and flesh, got dressed up for the next course. Dotted with hibiscus-laced chia seeds and a spritz of mescal, this evil-looking drink was light and fruity.

Once again, it was a perfect extension of its pairing — flautas stuffed with duck confit atop a creamy avocado poblano sauce. The duck was amazing, not at all greasy and packed with flavors I’m still analyzing the next day. I honestly don’t know what witchery was at work in the kitchen, but it was amazing.

Tepache | Nana

Bloody-looking chia seeds float in the candlelight.

After three successful course, I was prepared to be disappointed by dessert, rice pudding — not my favorite. Nuh-uh. Bewitchment was the aim.

Steaming mugs of pumpkin atole, a recipe of *the* Nana, were served first. Nutmeg, cardamon, and a touch of cloves accented the drink, which held the heat and flavor all the way to the bottom. It was served with orange-flavored rice that took on more sweetness and flavor with a date-paste concoction that made me magically love rice pudding. Every last bite.

Day of the Dead

Ya’ll come back next year.

This was one of the best meals I’ve had for $40. My next trick will be to get on Nana’s mailing list so I can snag a reservation for the next restaurant-wide event.

Nana is great for brunch and lunch as well as dinner and special events. Visit them at 3267 S. Halsted.

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