New Orleans knows how to eat and drink. Mardi Gras is one of the most indulgent days of the year, a pre-Lenten melee that has transcended New Orleans to become a national celebration of gluttony and decadence. In Chicago, here's a roundup of Mardi Gras specials and events taking place this year on or around Mardi Gras, aka Fat Tuesday, February 9.
Analogue: With a kitchen led by New Orleans native Alfredo Nogueira, responsible for some of the best Cajun and Creole cooking in Chicago, you'd be smart to pay Analogue a visit on Fat Tuesday. The chef will be cooking up some authentic specials for the holiday, including crawfish étouffée and a King Cake doughnut. Anyone who gets a piece of doughnut with a plastic baby in it, gets a free shot from the bar. Reservations for Analogue can be made on the bar's website.
Fish Bar: Lakeview's preeminent seafood haunt has conveniently "dressed up" as a New Orleans fish shack for the winter, boasting a menu filled with crawfish, frog legs, and Louisiana-style pecan pie. All of which are part of a special five-course Fat Tuesday menu, inspired by chef Michael Kornick's time in New Orleans. The prix fixe costs $35 per person and reservations can be made by calling Fish Bar.
Coconutz: Considering Fat Tuesday's knack for booze and debauchery, it makes sense that a tropical cocktail bar would be hosting a holiday event for the occasion. Head to Coconutz, the Gold Coast's newest island-inspired oasis, for Fat Tuesday to enjoy live trumpet music, passed appetizers, and New Orleans-style cocktail specials like Sazeracs, Vieux Carres, and Hurricanes. The shindig goes down from 7:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.
Shaw's Crab House: Another apt destination is Shaw's Crab House, which is getting into the merry spirit with a slew of Mardi Gras specials available now through February 9. These include oyster po'boys, shrimp po'boys, blackened redfish, crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, seafood gumbo, and a crawfish boil. Hurricanes and Sazeracs are on hand for thirsty patrons. On Mardi Gras proper, Shaw's will host two bands, the first being Big Dog Mercer from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., and the second being Dave Spector from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Bohemian House: This modern Eastern European restaurant may not be close to Cajun, but Bohemian House sure has a way with pąckzis, the traditional doughnuts eaten on Fat Tuesday. The River North restaurant puts its stamp on the Polish pastry during lunch and dinner service on February 9, made with a Bavarian cream filling, powdered sugar, and dried fig ice cream.