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Mardi Gras in Chicago

Here's where to celebrate Fat Tuesday in the Windy City in 2010.
Friday Feb 05, 2010.     By Centerstage Chicago Staff
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Celebrate Fat Tuesday at one of these spots in Chicago. Celebrate Fat Tuesday at one of these spots in Chicago.

Can't get down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (February 16)? You'll find all the beads and bashes you need to celebrate Fat Tuesday right here in Chicago.

Brasserie Jo
You might not immediately think of this River North French restaurant when considering where to dine on Fat Tuesday, but you should, because all guests will get a complimentary Alsatian Apple beignet along with their meals.

Saturday, February 13
Tuesday's not the best night to party for some, so stop by Crobar on Saturday for a celebration worthy of the French Quarter. B96 will broadcast live beginning at 11 p.m., with Dougie Stylz and DJ Tony Arzadon hosting the evening. Arrive early for a complimentary Hurricane, beads and masks.

The CrossRoads Bar & Grill
Party in the West Loop with $2 cans of beer, $5 Hurri-KANES (a twist on the classic drink inspired by Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane) and $2 sliders (pulled pork with BBQ sauce, carved turkey BLT, prime rib with caramelized onions, horseradish and au jus, or crab cake with corn salsa and creamy lemon sauce).

Who needs Hurricanes when you can get $5 Bayou Witch's Brew (coconut rum, vanilla vodka, amaretto, creme de banana, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice) and $5 Kilo Kai rum drinks? Well, you decide at this Mediterranean-inspired Lakeview restaurant.

Dick's Last Resort
Join the "Habitat for Insanity" fest at Dick's, where prizes are all the rage. The best-dressed reveler will win $250, the guest with the most outlandish bra will score a $50 bar tab, and the person who finds the baby in the Kings Cake (no hands allowed) gets dinner on Dick's. The VooDoo Krewe begins playing at 7 p.m., with contest judging beginning at 8. Dick's New Orleans menu (available February 12-18) includes spicy gator tail, jambalaya, drunk Cajun shrimp and a bucket o' beignets. Wash it down with $3 SoCo Hurricanes on the rocks or $20 buckets of Corona and Company Beer.

Division Street Turns Into Bourbon Street
If there were one place in Chicago that could come close to replicating the no-holds-barred party atmosphere of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, it'd probably be this stretch of Division. So it's not surprising that the area will be overrun with beads and alcohol. Start at Bootlegger's for the New Orleans Dance Off and Malibu Hurricanes (keep the cup for $3 refills), then head over to see Treaty of Paris play at 9 p.m. at The Original Mother's ($10) while enjoying $4.50 Heineken, Heineken Light and Amstel Light. Finish off the night at She-nannigans, where they'll be spinning '80s, '90s and current dance music and giving away prizes all night long. Watch out for the BS Brass Band and various street freaks between stops.

Dunlays on Clark
Get into a Mardi Gras mood at this Lincoln Park bar with N'awlins-style food and drink specials, including $9 crispy catfish bites, $7 beignets, $12 shrimp po' boys, $4 Abita Turbodog and Purple Haze, $5 Hurricanes and $3 Hand Grenade shots.

Durty Nellie's
Why limit your celebration to one day? You can get Cajun specials all month long at this Palatine bar and restaurant, including traditional-style gumbo, fried catifish and the Bayou Pasta Bowl with alligator, shrimp and crawfish. Prices range from $6.29-$14.37. We're not sure why, but just go with it.

Faith & Whiskey
You've heard of the Hurricane, but what about the "Rock You Like A Hurricane"? Faith & Whiskey's variation on the classic includes Jim Beam Red Stage cherry-flavored bourbon, light rum and fruit juices. You can also get $2 domestic bottles during this Fat Tuesday party.

The Fifty/50
The Wicker Park bar's second annual Fat Tuesday party features $9 22-ounce Rum Runners (Malibu Banana, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum 100, pineapple juice, orange juice, cranberry juice), $5 Malibu, $5 Absolut and $6 Jameson.

Goose Island Brewery
6:30 p.m.; $40
Chef Andrew Hroza will prepare a Cajun-inspired dinner with beer pairings by, you guessed it, Goose Island. Start off with an amuse of mini muffalettas (sourdough crostini topped with olive spread and cured meats), paired with Golden Goose Pilsner. Then comes the first course, crawfish bisque and crawfish beignets, with Lincoln Park Lager, followed by pompano en papillote with seasonal vegetables and the new Green Line Pale Ale. The third course is a Cajun surf 'n' turf with crabmeat-stuffed beef tenderloin medallions served with crispy okra, bearnaise sauce and Lake Effect Imperial Red Ale. Dessert is bourbon bread pudding souffle with caramel sauce and whiskey gelato, paired with Rind Grind Espresso Stout. Call for reservations.

Grand Central
See Bourbon Street-themed entertainment such as a burlesque performance, body painting and a fortune-teller. New Orleans inspired dishes augment the regular menu. Fat Tuesday drink deals include $10 Hurricane and sangria pitchers and $15 buckets of Corona and Dos Equis bottles. Additional food deals include 50-cent wings (Cajun, barbecue and Buffalo), $1 tacos and a complimentary taco with every Patron tequila purchase.

Heaven on Seven
No matter which location of this Cajun-themed chain you choose, you'll find a party goin' on. In Naperville, the Pat Smilie Band performs live from 5-11 p.m., to go along with special cocktails and dinner specials. On Rush Street, Professor John takes the stage from 5-11 p.m. to preside over a party full of beads and Hurricanes. And the original location on Wabash parties all day, from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Hunt Club
Get fat on Fat Tuesday with a pairing of immense proportions: a pint of Fat tire and a "Walk of Shame" burger (topped with a fried over-easy egg, bacon and cheddar and served on a pretzel roll) for just $10 total. Other specials include half-price bottles of wine and $5 orders of sliders.

John Barleycorn (Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville)
Munch on New Orleans-inspired dishes like jambalaya, andouille sausage quesadillas, king cake, red beans and rice and a selection of mini po' boys such as shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage. Drink deals include $3 Southern Comfort Hurricanes, Scarlett O'Hara shots and Bud Light cans and $4 Hand Grenades.

Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club
The Mardi Gras Masquerade soiree features a ton of specials, including half-price Cruzan rum mojitos and specialty martinis. Don a mask and some beads and enjoy the festivities, which include a viewing of "RuPaul's Drag Race Rewind" at 8 p.m. (Jade, a contestant on the first season, will make an appearance. No cover.

It's not often that you can pair a prix-fixe meal with your own booze, but that's exactly what you can do at chef Omar Rodriguez's Logan Square restaurant. The Fat Tuesday menu here includes four courses of classic Cajun cuisine, including choices like crawfish tail bisque; sweet potato duck chowder with andouille sausage; caldo riojano with alligator, rabbit, venison, fava beans, tomato, onion, prosciutto, spinach and crusty bread; rabbit loin gumbo; Creole pasta with chicken, allligator and mixed peppers; and blackened halibut with Creole rice and blackened jumbo shrimp.

Mac's American Pub
Mac's offers Mardi Gras favorites such as andouille sausage and chicken gumbo ($7) and shrimp etouffe ($8). Drink deals include $5 hurricanes and $3 beers from the Big Easy. Expect New Orleans music and complimentary beads, too.

Where better to celebrate a New Orleans holiday than at this authentic Cajun-Creole restaurant? For $20, you'll enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet, live music from the Phil Fornett Jazz Group, free masks, beads and more. Register online and you'll get a free Hurricane.

Lottie's Pub
Why limit your partying to one day? You can celebrate Mardi Gras throughout the weekend at Lottie's. From Friday, February 12 - Tuesday, February 16, enjoy $6 hand grenades (in a souvenir cup) and hurricanes, $6 jambalaya and po' boys. Expect beads.

8 p.m.; $12 in advance, $15 at the door
New Orleans singer Theryl "Houseman" DeClouet (former lead singer of Galactic) returns to the stage with his new, Chicago-based band, The Housewreckers, for a special show at Martyrs'. The venue will also serve up hurricanes, etouffee, jambalaya and red beans and rice, along with other N'awlins favorites for the occasion. Local funk band Crystal Gravy supports.

Meson Sabika (Naperville)
The Spanish restaurant will offer a number of special cocktails for $8.95 from February 9-16, including Voodoo (coconut rum, vodka, gin, triple sec, chambord, orange juice) and Spanish Lava (rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, strawberry puree). It will also offer Spanish fish dishes throughout Lent, Feburary 17 - April 2.

Did you know the chef at this Wicker Park favorite is from Louisiana? You will after you try his authentic New Orleans Muffaletta sandwich with hand-cut fries ($11), or his shrimp and andouille sausage gumbo ($13). Wash it all down with SoCo Hurricanes ($5) or SoCo Lime shots ($3), and you might just feel ready to participate in the Cajun karaoke session beginning at 9 p.m.

It's all about the Cajun-inspired food and drink at this North Center bar and grill, with featured items including gumbo, jalapeno cord bread, po' boy sandwiches, crab cakes, $5 Hurricans and more. Beads will be given away in abundance, and zydeco music will be played all day long. Additional specials include 30-cent wings and trivia beginning at 8:30 p.m.

The Pony
Beginning at 4 p.m., this Lakeview bar offers $5 Bayou Hurricanes, $6 jambalaya and free beads in honor of the big day. Pace yourself; the bar's open 'til 2 a.m.

Rock Bottom Brewery
Live it up at this brewery chain with $4 Hurricanes and $3 drafts of Big Easy Ale all day long, as well as $5 appetizers between 3-6 p.m.

Rockit Bar & Grill (Wrigleyville)
Indulge in a New Orleans-inspired meal courtesy of executive chef James Gottwald, with items including seafood gumbo ($4/cup, $6/bowl) and soft shell crab po' boys ($12). Pair 'em with $6 Hurricanes and Mardi Gras bombs and you'll be in the spirit pretty quickly.

Schoolyard Tavern
The SoCo girls will be on hand at this Southport Corridor bar, which hosts a wild Mardi Gras party featuring a 'best mask' contest and plenty of beads.

Not only will you get homemade gumbo ($5), Hurricanes ($5), Fat Shots ($3), and Fat Tire ($6 large bottles) at this Lakeview favorite on Fat Tuesday, but you'll also have the chance to get in on a Two Brothers beer tasting hosted by the brothers themselves, Jim and Jason Ebel. The event, which also includes appetizers, takes place in Sheffield's backroom Beer School bar, and costs $20.

Smoke Daddy
The Wicker Park BBQ spot turns its weekly beer-tasting series into a Mardi Gras party, with Louisiana brewery Abita offering samples from 7-10 p.m. (as well as $6 pints and $10 beer flights). In addition to the regular menu (featuring a special of $6 pulled-meat nachos on Tuesdays, you can enjoy Cajun items like gumbo and boiled crawfish. Carpetbaggers Local 606, a popular local Cajun zydeco band, will play beginning at 9 p.m.

Sushi Taiyo
Even sushi spots are getting into the Fat Tuesday spirit. Enjoy specials like the Voodoo Roll (steamed lobster, spicy mayo, cucumber, jalapeno, tobiko and wasabi tobiko, $10) and Rainbow on the Bayou (toasted salmon, tempura crunch wrapped with pieces of maguro, namasake, hamachi and unagi, $15), with a Big Easy Breeze martini (Ketel One vodka, mango puree, Cointreau, fresh lime) on the side.

Tapas Valencia
The Spanish restaurant will offer a number of special cocktails for $8.95 from February 9-16, including Dulce y Picante (St. Germain, Spanish brandy, fresh strawberries, lime juice and cayenne pepper) and a pomegranate caipirinha (Pama, Cabana cachaca, fresh lime juice and sugar). It will also offer Spanish fish dishes throughout Lent, Feburary 17 - April 2.

Timothy O'Toole's
This Streeterville pub is doing things big on Mardi Gras with the "Big Cans" party, with $3 big cans of PBR, Miller High Life and Old Style and $5 big cans of Heineken, Red Stripe and Foster's. Don't worry, you can get your Hurricanes ($6), too, plus a complimentary buffet of Cajun-inspired appetizers from 6-7 p.m. and a number of New Orleans foot specials on the menu If you go to the Gurnee location, you won't get the big cans specials, but you will get everything else (app buffet is 5:30-6:30 p.m.)

Trader Vic's
Celebrate Mardi Gras with a Hawaiian twist at this classic bar, where you'll get $5 Mai Tais and $5 Fat Tire. All customers will get "lei'd" with any purchase.


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