The earlier sunsets can mean only one thing: It's time to turn over the fun to all the things that go bump in the night. Halloween is right around the corner, and this year several restaurants, bars and businesses are getting in on the fun. Whether you're looking for a place to showcase your best costume, a chance to cosplay your best Dr. Venkman and study the paranormal or just a stiff drink of something spooky at home, here are the best ways to celebrate this season.
Let Hot Hands give you a hand
It's right there in the name: Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit is baking up pie with creepy hands coming right out of the dish. The Graveyard Pie ($38) serves six to eight people and is made with a cookie crumble crust and torched marshmallow top. In the middle, craggly sugar cookie fingers claw their way out — with almonds serving as fingernails. Preorder for Halloween pickup through the website.
272 S. Snelling Av., Suite 100, St. Paul, hothandspie.com
Dip into the Black Lagoon
Meteor Bar in Minneapolis is part of the national Black Lagoon pop-up happening during the month of October. The cocktail menu has all the good brews and cocktails in a "tropigoth" style — many available with booze or N/A. Plus, there's special Black Legume hot dog that's being served: a beef dog smothered in ghost pepper black bean chili, and crumbled Zapp's Evil Eye chips. On Oct. 21, there's a Steamy Hams (hamburgers) pop-up and tarot card readings.
2027 N. 2nd St., Mpls., meteormpls.com
How haunted is the Lex?
It's impossible to enter the storied halls of St. Paul's Lexington restaurant without feeling the historical significance. But it's also possible there's another reason for those hairs standing up on the back of your neck: Some say the Lex is haunted.
On Oct. 27-28, curious food fans can mix and mingle with the Twin Cities Paranormal Society — and, hopefully — honored guests from the great beyond. No matter who shows up, there will be passed appetizers and drinks served alongside a presentation on the investigators' overnight findings. Tickets are $90; reservations are available on Open Table.
On Oct. 30, Dave Schrader, host of podcast "The Paranormal 60," reveals his findings from an overnight investigation of the Lexington. Tickets are $105 and include Schrader's presentation, a cocktail reception with themed passed appetizers plus two drink tickets. Reservations are available on Open Table.
1096 Grand Av., St. Paul, thelexmn.com
Ghost Stories with a medium inside a food hall
Join the Twin Cities Paranormal Society and medium Christine Schroeder inside Prospect Park's Malcolm Yards market for an evening of spooky stories. Tales will be told about what the local ghosts have been up to on October 29 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include one glass of wine/beer or soda to sip while the captivating tales are spun.
501 30th Av. SE, Mpls., malcolmyards.market
Watch out for creepy bunny people at Bull's Horn
Six years ago, Amy Greeley and Doug Flicker opened their Bull's Horn Food & Drink in Minneapolis. And even on that first end-of-October night, costumes were encouraged. For this bash on Oct. 28, there will be a costume contest, spooky trivia and a "Donnie Darko" screening. Fun kicks off when the bar opens at 4 p.m., with plans for the movie to likely screen around 8:15 p.m. on the patio, weather-permitting.
4563 34th Av. S., Mpls., bullshornfoodanddrink.com
Get into this holiday spirit with a literal Monster Mash
The distiller/tinkerers at Tattersall have come up with a special Monster Mash whiskey that's being sold exclusively at the River Falls, Wis., distillery through October. A five-year aged blend, it's described as having "notes of smoke, caramel apple and cacao."
1777 Paulson Road, River Falls, Wis., tattersalldistilling.com/river-falls
Spooky tiki drinks with souvenir glassware
Downtown St. Paul's Apostle Supper Club is hosting Tiki Terror, a "Pirates of the Caribbean"-type theme on top of the tiki theme in the massive bar and restaurant space. There are special cocktails and plenty of well-placed skeletons to set the mood. Also, look for seasonally appropriate movies to be paired with special menus; check the restaurant's social media for the lineup.
253 W. Kellogg Blvd., apostlesupperclub.com
It's no trick: candy corn for supper
There are jalapeño brats, Buffalo brats — even gummy bear brats. But if you're a butcher shop in the Halloween Capital of the World (Anoka), it's only right that brats take on more seasonal flavor notes. Enter candy corn sausage from Teena Anderson's Anoka Meat & Sausage. Part sweet, part savory and all fun, the brats, available through Halloween, will thrill candy corn lovers and might even convert the candy corn skeptics. (We highly recommend subbing these for breakfast sausage.) If that flavor is a hard pass, Anderson's other seasonal flavor is cranberry wild rice. Both are available in five-packs for $7.99 a pound.
478 W. Main St., Anoka, anokameats.com
A burger Halloween tradition
It's become something of an annual tradition: Animales Barbecue becomes McJonald's for one special night — complete with special sauce. Named for chef/owner Jon Wipfli and a certain beloved fast-food joint, the food truck serves burgers (Big Macks) under its own yellow "M." McJonald's will be open Oct. 28, from noon to 7 p.m.
1315 NE. Tyler St., Mpls., animalesbarbeque.com
Kids eat free on Halloween
Getting ready to go trick-or-treating can be a scramble on a good night. If dinner slipped your mind between costumes and candy, Applebee's has your back. On Oct. 31, kids 12 and under eat free off the kids' menu (with the purchase of an adult meal). There's a limit of two kids, and it's dine-in only. Be sure to mention the offer.
Several participating Minnesota locations.