If Mardi Gras means an array of Cajun and Creole cuisine (rather than, say, a beads-filled bacchanal -- more on that later), there are plenty of Chicago restaurants that will be perfect destinations for your Fat Tuesday celebrations. From gumbo to etouffee, here's where you should be eating come Tuesday, Feb. 24.
West Loop mainstay Marche is perpetually decked out like every day is Carnival. Boasting a decor of vibrant primary colors, rich velvet touches and gilded accents throughout, you'll feel like you're dining on top of a Mardi Gras float. The restaurant's Fat Tuesday menu, which will be served from Friday, Feb. 20 through Fat Tuesday, Feb. 24, will feature Creole-inspired French dishes such as seared scallops with sweet pea puree, andouille sausage, caramelized pearl onions and lemon zest ($12); blackened rock shrimp risotto with bacon and scallions ($14); red beans and rice with shrimp aioli and Cajun biscuits ($10); and, of course, alligator soup ($12).
Streeterville's popular hangout Timothy O'Toole's will throw a free Fat Tuesday bash on Feb. 24, complete with a complimentary Mardi Gras-themed buffet from 5:30-7PM. Choose from such New Orleans-style specials as po' boy sandwiches, gumbo, etouffee, hush puppies, fried okra, corn bread and more. And what's a Mardi Gras party without alcohol? Timothy O'Toole's drink specials include $6 hurricanes and $14 Amstel Light pitchers.
A refined Fat Tuesday awaits at the Cooking Fools venue in Wicker Park on Feb. 24. The catering and cooking class company will host a Fat Tuesday cocktail mixer from 6-8:30PM featuring mixologist Angie Jackson. Sip on Sazeracs (the signature drink of Louisiana recently made famous as Brad Pitt's first cocktail in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") and Jackson's own "Marie Laveau," a concoction inspired by the famed Big Easy voodoo priestess. Cooking Fools chefs Nick Faitage and Deanna Hansen will serve spicy seafood-and-andouille sausage gumbo along with bananas Foster bread pudding. The party is $35 per person; make your reservations at 773-276-9377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.