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Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods


Mardi Gras is February 16, 2021, and although even New Orleans is not having a parade during this pandemic year, the colorful midwinter holiday is celebrated in the food of many Chicago restaurants.


The popular cuisine of New Orleans can be grouped into large categories, like Cajun, Creole, and Soul. Chicago restaurants excel at serving food in all these categories.


The most well-known New Orleans-type cuisine in Chicago has been served at Heaven on Seven, Jimmy Bannos’ ground-breaking seventh floor restaurant. There are, however, a few somewhat lesser known restaurants that are of no lesser quality and that offer a range of Crescent City favorites throughout the year.


Here are five of Chicago’s best restaurants, all serving the food that – along with jazz and Mardi Gras itself – made The Big Easy a favorite spot for food enthusiasts from around the world.


Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods. Chef Brian Jupiter presides over a kitchen renown for turning out some of the very finest New Orleans-style dishes. Start off with Beignets (which we think are just as good and maybe better than what you might enjoy at Café du Monde in New Orleans). Some twists on the Mardi Gras tradition can be appreciated in such creations as the NOLA Hot Sausage Sliders (with Creole mustard) and the Po’Man’s Seafood Tower (with fried shrimp, oysters, crawfish, and catfish). To drink? To-go Hurricane’s, of course!


Lowcountry. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans has traditionally had some of the best seafood in the United States, and that tradition comes alive at Lowcountry, which specializes in gifts of the sea, prepared in plastic sacks that hold in all the goodness of the customary seafood boil. The Lobster Combo is a big favorite, with luscious lobster tail, snow crab legs shrimp, corn, potatoes. and cornbread.  There are many other fish and seafood choices, including catfish and calamari, and with all of them we recommend the fantastic Cajun waffle fries.


C’est Si Bon. If you’re having a socially distanced get-together at home, you can’t go wrong with a meal catered by C’est Si Bon. The catering menu has many Mardi Gras favorites, including Cajun Fried Catfish Nuggets, Crab Cakes with Creole Sauce and Homemade Cajun Sausage Balls in tomato sauce. The menu at C’est Si Bon is huge, and you can order up a meal of these New Orleans classics, or construct a meal of your own design that will perfectly suit you and your guests.




Wishbone. Wishbone is a Chicago classic, now with three locations, all serving the food that we associate with the Southern U.S. in general and New Orleans specifically. Wishbone is perhaps unique among Chicago’s Cajun/Creole community for serving breakfast (as well as lunch and dinner). For instance, for your first meal of the day, you can have Blackened Catfish (with grits, home fries and corn muffin) and Chicken Andouille Hash with two eggs. It’s a fantastic way to start the day.


Soulé.  Since 2017, celebrities like Star Jones and Ruth Carter, as well as rappers like Lil Baby and Lil Durk, have visited West Town’s Soulé for a taste of New Orleans. Big favorites include New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp, Catfish Po’ Boy and Fried Chicken with a side of Dirty Rice. This unpretentious, casual restaurant has been carrying on the Crescent City culinary tradition for years, and their food is shown to best advantage during Mardi Gras.