Mardi Gras Flavors from Coast to Coast
Enjoy a taste of Creole cuisine — even if you're miles from the Crescent City.
Photo By: David Rangel ©Copyright 2014 David Rangel
Photo By: Jacob Andrzejczak ©Jacob Andrzejczak 2013
King Cake & Beyond
This Mardi Gras, even if you're miles from the Crescent City, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be far from the revelry — or a taste of Creole cuisine. We've honed in on spots to kick up your heels with signature cocktails, fabulous flavors and that N’awlins spirit right in your very own backyard. As they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler: Let the good times roll!
In addition to down-home cuisine, Roux aims to bring Southern hospitality to the folks of Seattle. Fat Tuesday revelers will feel the warm welcome with an authentic boiled crawfish feast with “all the fixins,” classic shrimp and grits, hurricane cocktails, and the iconic symbol of the holiday: green, yellow and purple iced king cake. Chef-owner Matt Lewis explains: “This is a time when families get together and break bread with each other, so Mardi Gras food is made to be shared. You find a lot of gumbos, jambalaya and crawfish boils, all of which you will find at Roux!” No New Orleans celebration would be complete without music. “Tuba Luba, a local brass band, will roll through for that authentic, shake your booty Mardi Gras feeling,” Lewis says.
Photo by Matt Mornick
More About: Roux
San Antonio: Lüke
Acclaimed New Orleans Chef John Besh opened his first restaurant outside of his home state when he opened Lüke, where authentic German and French cooking is served with a Creole touch. With Chef John Russ at the helm, the casual eatery hosts Downtown Tuesday happy hour each week, but for Mardi Gras the celebration will go well beyond 8:30 p.m. NOLA-style jazz band The San Antonio Spiders will bring the boogie while fare like crawfish, meat pies, Gulf oysters, fried chicken and shrimp etouffee will be served beside the regular menu. Katrina’s Folly, Russ’ twist on the hurricane cocktail, features three kinds of rum with fresh-squeezed passion fruit, orange, lemon and lime juices to loosen things up.
Photo courtesy of Besh Restaurant Group
More About: Lüke
Los Gatos, Calif.: The Bywater
At The Bywater, his new casual complement to his Michelin-starred restaurant Manresa, Chef David Kinch pays tribute to his childhood in New Orleans and the city where he first honed his culinary chops. Louisiana and Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes, freshly shucked oysters and reimagined po’ boys featuring Northern California’s bounty are not the only items on the menu to savor. San Francisco’s Tin Roof Drink Community’s cocktail program is a serious ode to The Big Easy’s beverages. Sazerac, gin fizz and milk punch are on the list, in addition to tropical cocktails and a quintessential New Orleans frozen daiquiri machine. Finish with affogato and beignets, a butterscotch pot de creme, or chocolate bread pudding.
Photo by Joyce Oudkerk Pool
More About: The Bywater
Washington, D.C.: Acadiana
At Acadiana, co-owner and Executive Chef Jeff Tunks calls on his years working in the Crescent City to create a blowout bash. Signature appetizers like mini muffulettas and deviled eggs set to the tunes of a live New Orleans-style jazz band will commemorate Fat Tuesday. Or settle into the main dining room for an a la carte menu, but be sure to stop in the bar first for typical Mardi Gras drink specials. Grab a krewe and parade on over!
Photo courtesy of Acadiana
More About: Acadiana
Washington, D.C.: Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery
Mardi Gras is a two-week party that happens all over the streets of New Orleans and, thanks to Chef David Guas, at Bayou Bakery in the Nation’s capital. Hosted in a tent outside the historic carriage house, the Annual Bayou Gras Block Party lets guests devour traditional muffulettas (sandwiches of mortadella, ham, salami, cheese and marinated olives) of epic proportions, andouille shrimp gumbo and a little lagniappe offering of sweet pralines. For your own celebration, get one of Bayou’s modern king cakes: handcrafted brioche filled with Creole cream cheese and, following tradition, a hidden baby. Whoever finds it will be required to host next year’s king cake party.
Photo courtesy of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery
More About: Bayou Bakery
Las Vegas: Emeril's New Orleans Fish House
When you think of the “new” New Orleans cuisine, Emeril Lagasse is the founding father. The beloved chef launched his first modern Creole restaurant nearly 30 years ago; today his empire extends from The Big Easy to Orlando Fla., and Las Vegas to Bethlehem, Pa. While that leaves plenty of options to enjoy an Emeril-style Mardi Gras, there’s none better than his New Orleans Fish House in the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Diners can feast on the regular menu, as well as Blue Crab Stuffed Gulf Shrimp and Louisiana-Style Broiled Oysters featuring freshly shucked and broiled Six Point oysters with Creole-spiked herb butter and toasted French bread. Of course it wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without beads, which the restaurant will have on hand.
Photo by Christopher DeVargas
More About: Emeril's New Orleans Fish House
Chicago: Pearl's Southern Comfort
Bourbon Street won’t feel too far away if you can get your hands on Pearl’s Bourbon Street Pork Sandwich: a blackened pork chop topped with caramelized onions, poblano peppers, American cheese, and a sweet and spicy mustard. For those who need their veggies, there's a grilled romaine salad with fried oysters, roasted beets, preserved lemon, pickled red onions and a spicy tartar dressing that will deliver all the flavors of a po’ boy without the bread.
Photo courtesy of Pearl's Southern Comfort
New York City: Bo's
Surrounded by water, New Orleans’ restaurants serve an abundance of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and everything in between. At Bo’s, they capture the flavors of New Orleans and marry it with the daily catch from Montauk’s Gosman’s Dock and the Peconic Harbor. On Fat Tuesday, Bo’s prepares seafaring dishes like snapper po' boys to snack on at the bar. Also on the menu for the non-seafood eaters is a thinly pounded Cajun pork chop smothered in Gruyère cheese and spicy habanero sauce, fried chicken braised in a lemon buttermilk, savory beignets and live music from Dr. Zsa’s Powdered Zydeco Band.
Photo courtesy of Bo's
More About: Bo's
Los Angeles: Royal Hollywood and Preux & Proper
Step right up to The Beignet Truck, which is parked in front of Royal, Hollywood’s NOLA-inspired bar, where plenty of sugary fried dough will go well with those French 75s and hurricane cocktails. On the savory side, there's a crawfish boil with all the fixins — roasted potatoes and corn — for just $15 per pound. Or you can get serious with the bottomless crawfish for double the price! Over at sister restaurant Preux & Proper, they’re pumping out frozen daiquiris — pina coladas, mint juleps and more — as well as a twist on classic Cajun gumbo, crawfish mac 'n' cheese, and upscale pate a choux (think profiteroles) beignets.
Photo courtesy of Royal Hollywood
More About: Preux & Proper