Weekly Planner: Mardi Gras, Carnival and Paczki Day

Mardi Gras at Big Jones

February 28 marks a day of indulgences before the Lenten season sets in. Chief among those celebrations is Mardi Gras, and no better place than Big Jones. The Andersonville staple is featuring a la carte specials and a prix fixe menu for the occasion, available through March 2 to keep the party going a bit longer. A la carte dishes include Pontchartrain lump crab cakes, barbecued shrimp, peacemaker po’ boys, blackened andouille po’ boys, fried chicken and more. Then there’s the prix fixe option, available for $33 with three courses. Dishes include Cajun boudin balls, hot water cornbread, fried chicken, alligator and andouille sauce piquant, sweet potato and black-eyed pea jambalaya and rum bread pudding. The prix fixe is available nightly for dinner and full table participation is required. 


Big Jones
Big Jones; photo by Grant Kessler

Carnival Celebration at Carnivale

Brazil’s answer to Mardi Gras, Carnival takes place at the aptly dubbed Carnivale. The West Loop mainstay will feature a special menu of Brazilian inspired creations, like moqueca de bacalhau, a slow-cooked cod and shrimp stew, and wood-roasted prime picanha, a medley of cassava puree, sambal chimichurri and plantain crispy salad. There will also be plenty of on-site entertainment, like dancers, drums and a dragon procession. For dessert, there will be bolo de rei, a Brazilian style coconut king cake with crema nata ice cream. Carnivale’s Carnival celebration runs February 25-28, and on February 28 in particular there will be a special lunch menu with samba dancers in attendance. 

Paczki Day at Delightful Pastries

The other iconic celebration for Fat Tuesday is Paczki Day, the Polish festival of fried dough. When it comes to the doughnut-like treats in Chicago, Delightful Pastries is king. With locations in the Chicago French Market and Jefferson Park, there’s plenty of fried dough to go around, too. They’re the largest producer of Polish paczki in the city, serving up thousands of them each day. For Paczki Day this year, the bakery has really upped the ante with an incredible menu of traditional and contemporary variations. Paczkis include raspberry jelly, rose pedal jelly, passion fruit jelly, Nutella and even boozy options like vodka and vanilla and a moonshine and lemon version. Both outposts will feature these extended menus on February 28. Custom orders can be placed by February 25. 

Beignet Specials at Kanela Breakfast Club

The other fried dough confection famous on Mardi Gras is New Orleans-style beignets. In honor of the holiday, Kanela Breakfast Club is featuring a beignet special on February 28. For $6, guests get five per order of the freshly fried pastries dusted with powdered sugar.  

Mardi Gras at Tokio Pub

Mardi Gras gets modern at Tokio Pub, which adapts its eclectic style handily with the festive holiday. The restaurant is serving up a slew of specials on Mardi Gras, available for both lunch and dinner. This includes shrimp and andouille egg rolls, bayou-stuffed shiitake mushrooms with crawfish and crab filling, “Ragin’ Cajun” sushi rolls with spicy crawfish, salmon, avocado and Zatarain’s mayo, shrimp and crawfish tamales, fried oyster bao and bananas Foster bread pudding, among others. 


Delightful Pastries
Delightful Pastries

Paczki at Glazed & Infused

Another spot to satisfy your sweet tooth come Fat Tuesday is Glazed & Infused. The popular doughnut shop is getting into the paczki game with a few special flavors available February 28. These include plum, vanilla and rose hip liquor. 

Mardi Gras and Carnival at Eataly

Eataly’s Italian roots may be a far cry from New Orleans and Brazil, but that doesn’t mean the foodie wonderland can’t throw a festive shindig befitting any occasion. On February 24, Eataly is doubling down with a celebration of both Mardi Gras and Carnival. The all-inclusive event takes place on the second floor from 7:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. with unlimited food and drink (wine and house-brewed beer). There will also be masks and other festive decorations. Tickets are $95 per person.