1. Enjoy chef-driven takes on childhood treats. As a kid, Halloween was a blank check for sugar highs. As adults, we're a bit more conscientious about our consumption, but there are several spots where you'll find chefs putting finer spins on favorite childhood treats. Dip your hand in Kate Holowchik's cookie jar at Wink & Nod. As the pastry guru for Bread & Salt Hospitality, the pop-up that recently took up residence in that South End speakeasy, Holowchik has concocted Green Chartreuse "Oreo" cookies: floury chocolate cookies sandwiches sweet frosting made from the liqueur. (Also available: her already famous Fernet bonbons.) Cookie monsters will also clamor for Sweet Cheeks Q, where Top Chef alum Tiffani Faison rounds out her barbecue dinners with a giant "Nutter Butter" dessert. And relive your "Munchkins"-munching years with donut holes and chocolate sauce at Lulu's Allston, where junk food finds new life in savory dishes too, like a chili pie of wild game with Fritos snack chips.
2. Try out Transylvanian cuisine. No, it doesn't involve bats and blood. (At least, we hope not.) But Charlestown's chic, seaside Pier 6 has cleverly chosen to spotlight fare from the (real) rural Romanian region that was home to Bram Stoker's (fictitious?) Count Dracula. Only during dinner hours on Halloween (Friday, October 31), chef Adriano Silva will serve traditional Transylvanian dishes like clãtite, savory seafood crêpes featuring lobster and scallops in a white wine cream, and goulash with slow-braised beef, smoked paprika and sour cream. Less authentic, but still delicious: Dracula’s Kiss, a cocktail of vodka, Cointreau, pineapple juice and raspberry purée.
3. Dine and dance at a "Zombie Prom." During an early Halloween celebration on Thursday, October 30, South End restaurant The Beehive will host a Zombie Prom. Dinner will be served from 5:30 PM-1 AM by "undead" waitstaff, and diners who come costumed could win the spot's "best-dressed" contest. A prom requires dancing, of course, so expect a night full of live music capped by a 9:30 PM tribute to the schlock-y '80s: cover band SAFETY will revive immortal classics from David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper and more.
4. Eat, play and party at Somerville's newest hot spot. With its big stock of board games, Pac-Man, shuffleboard and more, restaurant-slash-game-lounge Brass Union is already a perfect place to have a Halloween party. (Here's a refresher of all the fun inside.) But on October 31 from 8 PM-2 AM, the eatery will take things up another notch with Nightmare in Union Square, a spooky bash with dancing to DJ beats of hip-hop and '80s music, costume contests, and food and drink specials like the Sticky Icky Spiders, pumpkin shortbread cookies with apple buttercream frosting and candy corn, and the Sideshow: a Sidecar-style cocktail with pumpkin-infused apple brandy and a rim of brown sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin seeds.
5. Discover the spellbinding Salem dining scene. This time of year the "Witch City" is overrun with tourists, but it's worth braving the traffic (or better yet, hopping on the commuter rail) to discover some excellent restaurants that merit a visit any time of year. Where to start? Fear not. We've already pulled together this guide to America's Halloween capital, spotlighting magical favorites like 62 Restaurant.
6. Grab dinner at a "haunted" local restaurant. We've gathered this list of area restaurants that are reputedly haunted, like Parker's Restaurant inside the very old, very storied and, supposedly, very spirit-filled Omni Parker House Hotel.
7. Trick or treat on a Seaport food crawl. "Halloween on the Harbor," a benefit for Friends of the Fort Point Channel. On October 31 from 7-10 PM, $5 tickets (available here) will get you Duck Tour rides between about a dozen participating restaurants offering individual drink and food specials, costume contests and more. Guests meet at TAMO Bistro & Bar to pick up their maps and goodie bags, then hit area eateries like Ming Tsai's Blue Dragon, Temazcal Cantina and Barking Crab.
8. Bite into Cafe Fleuri's big "Chocolate Bar." Every Saturday the Langham Boston hotel hosts its famous "Chocolate Bar" at Cafe Fleuri, where over 100 sweet and savory selections come together to satisfy sweet teeth. (And ruin diets.) But on November 1, expect an extra selection of Halloween-inspired treats like pumpkin mousse atop sugar sable dough, garnished with dark chocolate and French buttercream; and the Caramel Lady Apple, bite-sized apples rolled in warm caramel and dark chocolate shavings. The all-you-can-eat experience is $42 per adult, $29 for kids ages five-12.
9. Dive in to a killer seafood dinner. Ever see those antique maps where cartographers scrawled "there be monsters!" on uncharted waters? Well you only need to cross the Charles River to Cambridge's recently reopened, reimagined Bambara Kitchen & Bar to enjoy a special "Monsters of the Sea" dinner on Thursday, October 30. For a modest $30, you'll get a prix fixe, beverage-paired meal that includes crab salad with a basil-vodka cocktail, grilled octopus with a seasonal beer and lobster pumpkin risotto with an autumnal scotch libation. Set your coordinates.
10. Try on a food-focused costume contest. It could earn you a prize during the Halloween bash at Grafton Street in Harvard Square. On October 31 from 10 PM-2 AM, the restaurant will feature dancing to DJ sounds and thematic bites like "bamboo-impaled" chicken hearts and "Bloody Mary linguine," served with clams in a spicy tomato-vodka sauce. But foodies will have especial fun with a costume contest that requests guests to arrive dressed as a "favorite app, entree or cocktail."
11. Celebrate Dias Des Los Muertos. If the week wears you out, skip Friday's Halloween parties and save yourself for Saturday's slew of Dias Des Los Muertos events. Mexico's "Day of the Dead," celebrated on November 1, yields a few local options. Among them: locavore biz Cuisine en Locale is partying with ONCE Muertos, the latest in its series of "One Night Culinary Events." Tickets are $40 here for a Mexican dinner buffet using locally sourced ingredients, like mole made with Somerville-produced Taza Chocolate and pulled pork from Lunenberg's Stillman Farm. Plus there's entertainment from a mariachi band, performance artists and "SteamCrunk" band Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys. (Tighter budgets can opt for a Sunday, November 2 "Taco brunch" at 12 PM.) Meanwhile the area's first location of upscale Mexican brand Besito will have its own Day of the Dead fun for the family: expect sugar-skull face painting, traditional altars honoring late ancestors and special dishes like Ceviche de Jaiba, marinated jumbo lump crab mixed with jalapeño and garnished with tortillas and plantain chips. Finally, Rosa Mexicano will offer a festive dinner menu from October 31-November 2 that includes guacamole de otoño with pomegranate and toasted pumpkin seeds, and buñuelos rellenos: deep-fried vanilla ice cream coated in cinnamon buñuelo crust, served with a guajillo-raspberry sauce.