Don't look now, but Mardi Gras is coming up next week on February 21. It will be your last chance to indulge and stuff yourself before the start of Lent. Many spots across the city will kick things off with parties and some Cajun cooking, as well as drink specials. So if you are in the mood for some Southern Creole fare, get ready for a heavenly time. Get out there and join the celebrations while chowing down on some delicious gumbo, jambalaya and more.
1) Big Jones
Where: 5347 N. Clark
What: Sit down for a family meal of Cajun country cooking at Big Jones. Dishes include crawfish and pork boudin balls, Sunday file gumbo, Arkansas Delta rice with butter, king cake and more for $25 per person. The a la carte menu will also offer crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice, and peacemaker po’boys.
2) Goose Island
Where: 1800 N. Clybourn
What: Go all-in at the Fat Tuesday Beer Dinner on Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Five courses of Creole-inspired dishes will be paired with Goose Island ales. Cost is $40, call to RSVP.
3) The Southern
Where: 1840 W. North
What: Kick things off with a Mardi Gras party at The Southern. A Dixieland band will be on hand as well as a $10 low country boil. Abita takes over the taps with a special edition Oyster Stout and Dry Hopped Restoration Ale.
4) Fat Cat
Where: 4840 N. Broadway
What: A buffet of traditional Cajun fare including a crawfish boil, jambalaya, po’boys, and king cake for $9.95. Enjoy $4 Abita beers and $6 Hurricanes.
5) Cactus Bar & Grill
Where: 404 S. Wells
What: Eat all the crawfish you can at the second annual Fat Tuesday Crawfish Eating Contest at 6 p.m. The cost is $25 per person and all proceeds go to benefit the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity.
Where: 3937 N. Lincoln
What: Dig into an authentic all-you-can-eat crawfish boil for $25 in honor of Fat Tuesday. Traditional sides include cornbread, gumbo, red beans and rice.
7) Heaven on Seven
Where: 111 N. Wabash
What: The Cajun restaurant serves up the finest Creole cooking year-round. Stop in on Fat Tuesday and enjoy the sounds of the Chicago Jazz Collective.
8) Moonshine Brewing Company
Where: 1824 W. Division
What: Enjoy a Cajun Crawl featuring traditional $6 Hurricanes and a crawfish boil for only $7 per half pound basket or $12 per pound. Round it out with fresh gumbo at $3 per cup or $5 per pound.
9) Sweet Baby Ray’s
Where: 800 E. Higgins, Elk Grove Village, IL
What: Join Sweet Baby Ray’s for its gumbo and jambalaya cook-off on Feb. 19. Free to enter or just come to sample the entries. The special Mardi Gras menu features chicken and Andouille sausage gumbo, chicken and crawfish etouffee, shrimp Creole, and shrimp and crawfish po’boys.
10) Sushi Samba
Where: 504 N. Wells
What: The annual Carnaval party on Feb. 21 will feature live samba dancers and refreshing Carnaval cocktails. Special dishes include king crab palmito salad, Copacabana crispy red snapper, and a Carnaval roll with tuna, salmon and shrimp.
11) Maple Tree Inn
Where: 13301 S. Olde Western, Blue Island, IL
What: This Creole stalwart will host a Mardi Gras celebration with a special sit-down menu and live Dixieland jazz from The Mudcats.
12) Nacional 27
Where: 325 W. Huron
What: If you can’t make it to Rio de Janeiro this year, celebrate instead at Nacional 27 at its Carnival 2012 cocktail party on Fat Tuesday. The restaurant will feature live Brazilian music and custom cocktails made with Brazilian-based ingredients including three types of Caipirinhas.
13) Division Ale House
Where: 1942 W. Division
What: A Mardi Gras bash on Feb. 18 features a live DJ set and Big Easy deals all day including Andouille sausage and rock shrimp gumbo, traditional Hurricanes, and Southern Comfort shots.
14) Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
Where: 41 E. Superior
What: Celebrate Fat Tuesday with Louisiana style specials including Fish po’boys and a spicy Jambalaya with chicken and Andouille sausage. Guests can also enter their business cards for a chance win a $25 gift certificate and be named the king and queen of Mardi Gras.
15) Moe’s Cantina
Where: 155 W. Kinzie
What: Try Big Easy-inspired dishes such as $8 Andouille sausage and Chihuahua cheese quesadillas and $5 Creole-style chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage jambalaya. Fat Tuesday drink specials include $6 Hurricanes.
16) The Fifty/50
Where: 2047 W. Division
What: Join the Fat Tuesday Party at the Fifty/50. Finish the $25 2-pound Fat Bastard Burger with fries in 30 minutes and get it for free. Drink specials include $5 Malibu & Malibu Black Rum Runners and Hurricanes.
17) Uncle Fatty’s
Where: 2833 N. Sheffield
What: Celebrate Mardi Gras with a Fatty Tuesday party. The evening’s antics include a performance by Wedding Banned and a dance-off competition to win a $250 cash prize. $15 Bacardi Fishbowls and $5 Bacardi Hurricanes keep the good times flowing.
Eater Chicago intern Jeffy Mai contributed this article.