Mardi Gras Flavors from Coast to Coast

Enjoy a taste of Creole cuisine — even if you're miles from the Crescent City.

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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! 

Healdsburg, Calif.: Parish Cafe

Parish Cafe is about as close as you can get to New Orleans without actually stepping foot in the Crescent City. Chef Rob Lippincott turns out NOLA staples like gumbo, boudin balls and jambalaya, following recipes handed down from his mother and his grandmother. His light and airy beignets are rolled by hand before they're fried, then liberally dusted with powdered sugar.

More About: Parish Cafe

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

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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, just across the river from the nation’s capital. The annual Mardi Gras party combines the food, cocktails and music of New Orleans. 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

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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

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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

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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

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