With warmer weather than ever blanketing the area this time of year, pretending the Nation’s Capital is the Big Easy is easier than ever (especially after a few mind-altering Hurricanes).
While the annual holiday remains a week away (Feb. 28), some bars and restaurants are already in full-on Mardi Gras mode, rolling out the same king cakes, brass bands, and Creole fare found in the French Quarter.
Read on to find out where to play hooky, earn beads, and indulge in Mardi Gras-themed bites and booze — both on and before Fat Tuesday.
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901 New York Ave. NW
On Fat Tuesday, chef Jeff Tunks' Louisiana fish-house inspired restaurant will come alive with live jazz and a special Mardi Gras menu. The $39 prix-fixe selection will feature a range of authentic dishes, including crawfish jambalaya to charbroiled oysters. They will also offer a special $5 Mardi Gras street food menu at the bar with parade route staples like alligator fritters and muffulettas.
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
Mardi Gras king cake doughnuts (no baby included) will be available Feb. 28 for $3.10 at both locations; pre-ordering is also an option.
Bayou’s 7th Annual Mardi Gras 2017
2519 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
D.C.’s New Orleans-style restaurant will start the party Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. and continue into the night. Chef Rusty Holman is serving up jambalaya, assorted po’ boys, Hurricanes, and more. Live music kicks off on the restaurant’s enclosed and heated front patio with the Capitol Hillbillies, performing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Bayou will offer an all-you-can-eat buffet for $25 per person.
6th Annual Pre-Parade Party at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery
1515 N Courthouse Rd., Arlington
Across the bridge, Bayou’s Arlington location will have its own party going just a block from the kick-off of the Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade route. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., enjoy $5 New Orleans cocktails, $5 Abita beer drafts, and $5 NoLa dishes. (Chef David Guas has serious Creole street cred, being a New Orleans native.) Bring a non-perishable food item to the pre-party to help recent tornado victims in Louisiana.
Black Jack/Tilt Sidebar
1612 14th St. NW
These 14th Street bars are partying from Feb. 25 to Feb 28, with all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunch for day-drinkers, masquerade parties, and Hurricane slushies. This year Black Jack and Tilt Sidebar is literally rolling out the red carpet — complete with a step and repeat — welcoming guests with drink specials, authentic Creole fare, and fresh renditions of time-honored NoLa cocktails.
1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Find an array of Mardi Gras dishes at this upscale French eatery on Feb. 28, including fish cake, crawfish bisque, frog legs, jambalaya, and bourbon-raisin bread pudding ($10-$25).
The Grilled Oyster Company
Get a taste of N’awlins at The Grilled Oyster Company, where one can pair po’boys packed with fried oysters, cucumber relish and spicy Buffalo sauce with an Abita Purple Haze draft or the restaurant’s Bourbon Street Fizz cocktail (tequila, blackberry puree, agave, and Brut champagne). The combo ($20) is available from Feb. 21 until Feb. 28.
2031 Florida Ave. NW
On Feb. 28, McClellan’s Retreat is expected to serve free slices of king cake (with purchase), plus $8 Hurricane punch and Sazeracs.
Mardi Gras Happy Hour at Round Robin
1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
From Feb. 20 to Feb. 28 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Round Robin will bring a taste of Bourbon Street to Pennsylvania Avenue with authentic Cajun cuisine (think: mini shrimp po’boys, grilled oysters, and roasted alligator “wings”) along with NoLa-inspired cocktails ($10). Guests are also invited to stop by Feb. 28 to enjoy live music.
Mardi Gras Extravaganza at Dock 5
1309 5th St. NE
One of the biggest bashes planned in D.C. for Feb. 28 is the block party at Union Market. From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. expect Southern-influenced street fare and cocktails from 20 local top mixologists and chefs, including celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn and Bayou Bakery founder David Guas. DC Brau and Abita beers will be flowing all night, along with live tunes (Brass Band Connection is coming in from North Carolina), costume contests, and a Hurricane cocktail competition. All-inclusive tickets are $65, with proceeds benefiting DC Central Kitchen, Louisiana-based St. Bernard Project.
A Very N'awlins Experience at Service Bar
926-928 U St NW
The hip cocktail bar will launch its first regional menu on Feb. 28, with a focus on New Orleans fare and booze. Strategically launching on Fat Tuesday, expect spicy vegetarian gumbo, dirty rice, and beignets, and cocktails like Clarified Creole Punch, Vieux Carre’s, and Ramos Gin Fizzes. The menu will last two months until another region takes over.
1413 K St. NW
With a name that literally translates to "French Quarter", Vieux Carre is going all in for Mardi Gras. Starting at 6 p.m., expect live music by The Kevin Jefferson Quintet (performing big band and Louisiana style jazz), a bevy of Big Easy-themed cocktails and fare, as well as party favors, masks, beads, and a raffle to benefit UNITY of Greater New Orleans.and lots of NoLa-themed cocktails. Vieux Carre will unveil for the first time its new Po' boy Lobster Roll, below.