Mardi Gras Beyond the Big Easy: Where to Celebrate Outside of New Orleans

You don’t need to head to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras when there are plenty of big and easy ways – and places – to bring your crew out to celebrate food, fun, and revelry. Here’s where to dine like a king on Fat Tuesday and beyond.

Preux & Proper, Los Angeles, California
Nola meets SoCal at Preaux & Proper, where Louisiana staples are served up in the heart of Los Angeles. For a more genteel side of things, check out Proper dining, with pickings like chicken liver pate made with Knob Creek whiskey, housemade piccalilli relish, and Creole mustard seeds with a French baguette that are a little more bistro than bayou. Or, celebrate in the more low-key neighborhood barroom, where it’s okay to put your elbows on the table for a fried shrimp or oyster po’boy with California red hot and Creole mayo. Shared — like most desserts should be — between the two concepts are sweets, such as pate a choux beignets with “bananas foster” dulce de leche. Make a reservation at Preux & Proper.

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Mokomandy, Sterling, Virginia
What do you get when you marry Korean-American and Cajun? One happy union on the plate and at home when it comes to Mokomandy, a fusion eatery owned by a husband and wife duo. Shrimp etouffée, Cajun cassoulet, and shaved catfish and peppers are listed next to the house signature kimchi and Korean pot roast sliders for a blast of flavors and textures that knows no borders. Make a reservation at Mokomandy.


Fifolet Cajun, Chicago, Illinois
Let the good times roll at Fifolet, where jazz music and other New Orleans favorites will get the party started — with beads, too — on both February 10 and Fat Tuesday, February 13. Pair a Louisiana-brewed Abita beer with crawfish lasagne, rabbit daube stew, or shrimp n’ grits. Make a reservation at Fifolet Cajun.

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Café Boulud, New York, New York
New York goes New Orleans at Café Boulud, where Mardi Gras is celebrated every night for the week prior to Mardi Gras with a special three-course feast from executive chef Aaron Bludorn. The elegant presentations of traditional Nola fare include first-course choices like oysters Rockefeller or shrimp gumbo and second-course selections of bronzed redfish or spiced pork chop, with a dessert of café brûlot. The spectacle in and of itself: an orange peel is cut into one long spiral with a lemon peel in strips, with sugar, cloves, and cinnamon with cognac or brandy and strong coffee — all set on fire. Make a reservation at Café Boulud.

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City Works, Minneapolis, Minnesota
They just celebrated hosting the Super Bowl, now the Twin Cities can check another party off the to-do list with a five-day fiesta at City Works. Diners who order the king cake — cinnamon brown ale cake, nut crumble, and cream cheese frosting — have a chance to find the tiny plastic hidden baby inside their slice, which comes with a $250 gift card prize. Other menu items for the purple, green, and yellow holiday: alligator gumbo, shrimp po’boys, and shrimp n’ grits in a Sriracha-lime butter sauce. (Other City Works locations including Pittsburgh and Doral, Florida, are getting in on the same menu action, too.) Make a reservation at City Works.

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Southern Rail, Phoenix, Arizona
Fat Tuesday is an all-day affair at Southern Rail, where the party kicks off at 11AM, including costumes and beads. You’ll have to take the masks off to enjoy a menu of jambalaya, king cake, beignets, and cocktails including Sazerac and monsoons. The regular menu of Southern classics — liked smoked chicken and grilled andouille gumbo ya ya—will also be served. Make a reservation at Southern Rail.

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What are your favorite spots for celebrating Mardi Gras? Tell us about them here or over on FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter. And, don’t forget that Valentine’s Day is Wednesday, so book your tables and be sure to enter our #ValenDinesDay giveaway for a chance to win Valentine’s Day dinner for two.

Carley Thornell is a travel writer whose experiences eating street food in Japan, English peas in the UK, free-range steak in Argentina, and Brussels sprouts at Estragon tapas in her hometown of Boston have provided unforgettable culinary inspiration. Shout out at

Photo credits: C. DeFilippo (Cafe Boulud).