Known more for its parties, parades and raucous celebrations than its religious roots, this year’s Mardi Gras festival began on January 6 and winds down with Fat Tuesday celebrations on February 25. And though New Orleans is ground zero for all things Carnival, it’s easy to find somewhere to enjoy the boisterous fun of this high-energy holiday.

Whether you’re ready for in-your-face beads, booze and brass band revelry, a sit-down ode to Cajun cuisine or sharing your Mardi Gras mood with your favorite pooch, here’s a few ways to eat, drink and dance your way to Fat Tuesday if you can’t make it to the French Quarter this year.

Valerie – New York City

This sleek, art deco restaurant and bar is an unlikely venue for Mardi Gras mischief but from February 24th to the 28th, you can join in the fun with special menus to highlight the best of New Orleans. The bi-level haunt evokes the golden age of New York, and you can grab a seat at the bar or at one of the fuschia booths studded with tufted cushions, then order up some NOLA grub, like the cutting-edge take on etouffee with shrimp and kimchi or the crispy, popcorn shrimp po’ boy finished with pickled green tomato and a chili tartar sauce. Wash it down with classic cocktails, like the rye and absinthe-forward Sazerac or the Brandy Crusta, with Champagne Cognac, curacao, maraschino liqueur, lemon and a dash of angostura bitters.

Hands hold a cocktail and mask in the air, with beads in the background
Chicago's Houndstooth Saloon has New Orleans–classic cocktails © Courtesy of Houndstooth Saloon

Houndstooth Saloon – Chicago

This Wrigleyville bar is pulling no punches at this year’s Mardi Gras celebrations. Starting on February 4 and lasting 21 days, you can rejoice with plenty of music, food, drink and fun at the French Korner pop-up, which includes a special menu of Cajun specialties. Try the Gumbo Ya-Ya, a Chicago Creole Dog, combining a Chicago-style sausage with crawfish chili, or just gorge on house-made beignets.

Of course, you can also get your cocktail on with the classic Hurricane, as well as a few other Bourbon Street favorites like the Hand Grande with vodka, gin, rum and melon liqueur, and the crowd friendly Voo Doo Punch Bowl which keeps it lively mixing watermelon vodka, green Jell-O and coconut Red Bull. Entertainment will range from burlesque shows and mask-making parties to a Masquerade Ball and crawfish boil. Fat Tuesday will close things out with live music featuring local jazz and blues.

Broxton Brewery & Public House – Los Angeles

Located in the heart of LA’s Westwood community, The Broxton serves craft brews and gastropub grub in a bright, friendly atmosphere. So, it’s good to know that you can also book a Fat Tuesday date with this six-course, beer-forward dinner on February 25. Sure, there will be fried alligator and seafood & sausage etouffee, but there are plenty of vegan options, like pickled okra, corn and tomato Panzanella, porcini and truffle dirty rice and even a vegan King Cake. Each of the six courses will be thoughtfully paired with a craft beer or you can choose the Bottomless Brews option if you’re feeling the Mardi Gras spirit.

The brick exterior of restaurant Acme Feed & Seed in Nashville
Located in downtown Nashville, Acme Feed & Seed is one of the top spots to celebrate Mardi Gras in Music City © Courtesy of Acme Feed & Seed

Acme Feed & Seed

Celebrate Mardi Gras the Nashville way, starting with a Big Easy Brunch at noon on February 25.  In addition to a menu of Cajun-forward food and booze specials, live music and acts will be performing into the night. Hill Country Devil starts the day with Americana, followed by the Admiral Phunk Brass Band and late-night burlesque by Madam Cooper and the Electric Cowgirls – a little something for everyone. Brunch grub includes shrimp & grits with Creole tomato sauce, but you can order up faves like fried green tomatoes accompanied by housemade pimento cheese and bacon marmalade or Brunswick stew until the festivities wind down.

Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company

This Texas brewpub wants you to bring your furry friend to celebrate at its 5th annual Mardi Gras Dog Parade. On February 22, the all-day party features a best-dressed pooch contest and will raise funds for Pug Rescue Austin – as well as have adoptable dogs on-site in case you’re feeling extra spirited. Of course, in addition to the floats and Second Line marching band, there will be live music, a special menu with lots of gumbo, andouille and King Cake, and the potent 9.5% ABV Cherry Cherry Boom Boom on tap.

The St Louis Blues mascot riding on top of a vehicle during the Bud Light Grand Parade
The St Louis Blues mascot rides atop a van during the Bud Light Grand Parade © Roberto Galan / Shutterstock

Bud Light Grand Parade – St Louis

If Bourbon Street isn’t in your travel plans this year, a consolation prize lies in the Soulard section of St Louis on February 22. It should come as no surprise that Budweiser doesn’t hold back when it comes to celebrating and this is the largest Fat Tuesday parade outside of the Big Easy.

"The Blues" is this year’s theme and covers everything from music to the sea. Beginning at Busch Stadium and ending at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, you can follow the almost 100 floats and grab some of the over 10,000,000 strands of beads being tossed to revelers. Extra experiences can be purchased here, where you can become a Friend of Mardi Gras and sign up to ride a float, or grab tickets to the Blues Alumni party or the Bud Light Party Tent which promises a dance floor and a clean bathroom. And really, want more could you ask for? The parade begins at 11am.

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