Like us on Facebook!

David Lissner
for restaurants

16 picks for Chicago Mardi Gras 2012

Mardi Gras public domain


Laissez les bon temps rouler! It’s Mardi Gras tomorrow, the last hurrah before Lent. Revel Chicageaux-style on Fat Tuesday at these bars and restaurants.

  1. Heaven on Seven features all its usual Cajun and Creole specialties, plus live music: Steve Rohbock & Band in Naperville, Professor John on Rush Street and the Chicago Jazz Collective on Wabash

  2. The Oyster Bar at Shaw’s Crab House in Schaumburg serves a new hurricane martini ($7) with live blues music by the Cash Box Kings from 6 to 9 p.m. Each table will receive a piece of king cake. Half-priced oysters feature from 3 to 9 p.m. Similar specials occur in River North with music by the Fabulous Fish Heads at 7 p.m.

  3. Retro Bistro in Mount Prospect offers a three-course Cajun menu, live music and beads.

  4. Big Jones in Andersonville serves a menu of Louisiana specialties including a family-style meal, “A Cajun Country Ramble,” served 5 to 9 p.m. through Feb. 26, featuring crawfish and pork boudin balls, cracklin’s and cornbread, file gumbo (chicken, sausage, ham, catfish, crawfish, crab), potato salad, alligator and andouille sauce piquante, Arkansas Delta rice with butter, king cake and tac-tac, $25 per person, total table participation requested. Also on tomorrow’s menu: barbecued shrimp ($12), crawfish etouffee ($24), “Peacemaker po’ boys” ($15), chicken Clemenceau ($24), a jamabalaya kettle for the table ($18) and calas, a sweet rice fritter hawked by street vendors in the French Quarter during the 19th century.

  5. The Southern in Wicker Park will be tapping Abita Beer, including special edition Oyster Stout and dry-hopped Restoration Ale, for $3. Low Country boil ($10), a Dixieland band, burlesque, beads and $3 Old Forester shots also feature, beginning at 8 p.m.

  6. Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Westmont piles on the boiled crawfish accompanied by “Swampthing” cocktails in souvenir glasses.

  7. Uncle Fatty’s Rum Resort in Lakeview offers music by Wedding Banned starting at 9 p.m. and a Dance Off for $250 cash prize. Beads and masks will be plentiful and drink specials include $15 Bacardi Fishbowls, $5 Bacardi Hurricanes and $3 Bud Lights.

  8. Sweet Baby Ray’s in Elk Grove Village parties all day with giveaways, Mardi Gras specialties and live music and dancing all evening from The Chicago Red Hots.

  9. Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club in Northalsted offers Chef Mark Kasper’s gumbo (tiger shrimp and Amish chicken with okra, rice and buttermilk biscuit, $17), half-price, Cruzan rum cocktails ($5), diva Tracy Ross performing starting at 7:30 p.m. and beaded necklaces, hats and other giveaways.

  10. Frontier in West Town’s Mardi Gras specials include $12 dozen oysters, $8 fried oyster or crawfish po’ boys, $10 duck and seafood gumbo, $4 Abita beers and $35 hurricane punch bowls.

  11. The Pony in Lakeview serves $5 hurricanes, $7 gumbo and $10 Cajun pizzas topped with andouille sausage, blackened chicken, spinach, mozzarella and white sauce.

  12. Lottie’s Pub in Bucktown offers $5 hurricanes and hand grenades, $6 chicken or shrimp po’ boys and $8 chicken and sausage jambalaya.

  13. Moonshine Brewing Company in Wicker Park celebrates starting at 5 p.m. with its “Cajun Crawl, ” featuring hurricanes made according to the recipe from New Orleans’ Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, Chef Matt Wilde’s crawfish boil with fresh, live crawfish direct from Louisiana ($7 per half pound basket, or $12 per pound), gumbo ($3 per cup or $5 per pound) and DJ Greg Bauer’s zydeco beats.

  14. Carnivale in River West features live music from Luciano Antonio and Planeta Azul, samba dancing with Passistas Samba Dancers, a stilt walker and Chef David Dworshak’s South American-style Carnivale menu including the heart of palm soup with garlic shrimp and dende oil ($8), sauteed black bass with pumpkin coconut broth, crab salad with passion fruit and malagetta chilies ($29) and braised pork shank with linguica sausage-tomato-okra stew, rice and farofa ($27).

  15. Cactus Bar and Grill in the Loop hosts its second annual crawfish eating contest at 6 p.m. Competitors will consume three pounds of crawfish in the fastest amount of time possible to win such prizes as a $50 gift certificate to Cactus Bar and Grill, a table top grill, and a Corona metal beer cooler. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity of New Orleans. Mardi Gras accessories, such as beads and masks, will be delved out to the crowd and menu specials include
    $5 drinks (pints of Abita Purple Haze, $5 hurricanes and SoCo Lime shots), $4 cup/$6 bowl shrimp and crawfish gumbo, $10 shrimp po’ boy and $12 crawfish boil. A $25 fee for competitors applies (enter here); admission is free.

  16. O’Donovan’s Pub and Restaurant in North Center offers Chef Victor DeLeon’s Cajun-inspired menu of gumbo, jalapeno cornbread, po’boys, Cajun crab cakes and blackened salmon with Cajun aioli plus 30-cent Buffalo or barbecue chicken wings from 4 to11 p.m. $5hurricanes, bombs, and other New Orleans inspired drink creations, zydeco music and trivia for prizes also feature.