This year’s muted Mardi Gras may leave much to be desired, but New Orleanians are finding ways to fill the void — with new traditions, like “house floats,” and old ones, like the beloved Carnival treat, king cake, with a record number of bakeries offering delivery and nationwide shipping and pop-ups serving some of the most creative versions the city’s ever seen. In an effort to prevent a repeat of 2020’s super spreader Mardi Gras, parades and balls are canceled, and bars are closed citywide from February 12 until February 17. Food is taking center stage as a result, and New Orleans restaurants and chefs are whipping up specials to help the city celebrate “Yardi Gras” safely at home.
Everyone in New Orleans knows the true spirit of Mardi Gras is togetherness — on the parade route, in someone’s kitchen, or at a restaurant or bar — shared joy. While we may not be scooping out bowls of jambalaya at a stranger’s house or grabbing a drumstick from a communal box of Popeye’s this year, with restaurant specials, house floats, and virtual celebrations, there is hopefully enough joy, shared from a distance, to hold us over to 2022.
Did we miss a restaurant Mardi Gras special for takeout or delivery? Let us know.
Food and Drink Specials for Pickup and Delivery
Blue Oak BBQ
Blue Oak’s location near New Orleans’s gorgeous City Park inspired the clever “Bloak Floats Box,” a sampling of finger foods to be enjoyed during the park’s “Float in the Oaks” fundraiser that runs nightly through February 14. Floats from various Mardi Gras Krewes will be on display in the park in a sort-of reverse parade, where cars pass through the lineup to view the stationary floats. Blue Oak’s snack box, also available through the 14th, includes nachos, eight chicken nuggets, spicy chicken on a stick, and four mac and cheese balls for $30, packaged up in an easy-to-balance cardboard box. Preorder online to pick up Monday through Friday between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. or Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. To note: Blue Oak also has king cake daiquiris, but only for dine-in service.
Bywater Brew Pub
The new Bywater microbrewery now has its own beers on tap and the kitchen is now offering party trays — one for meat-eaters, one that’s vegetarian-friendly. Six beef phoritto halves come with pho broth gravy dipping sauce, 10 wings, chips, and a pint of crawfish etouffee nacho dip; for the vegetarian option, the veggie phoritto halves come with peanut dipping sauce, 20 fried tofu nuggets, chips, and a “pho-rench” onion dip. Call or email to order 24 hours in advance, and you can add a king cake to the party tray for a discounted $15. Bywater Brew Pub will also be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mardi Gras for fried chicken and “pho boys” to go.
Meat-lover sandwich destination Cochon Butcher has displaced New Orleanians and the city’s far-flung admirers covered via Goldbelly, which is shipping the restaurant’s specialties nationwide for home delivery. Order crawfish hand pies, chicken andouille gumbo, and muffulettas on Cochon’s Goldbelly site by Sunday at 10 p.m. in order for it to arrive on Fat Tuesday.
Copeland’s of New Orleans
All of Copeland’s multiple locations around town are offering Mardi Gras for pickup and delivery, with “Feed Your Krewe” and “Feed the Parade” packages including everything from fried chicken and biscuits to its signature king cake cheesecake. Spicy herb fried chicken or fried chicken tenders come with a dozen biscuits and the choice of two (2) two-quart sides: French fries, red beans and rice, loaded baked potato, broccoli, Southern cheese grits, and mashed sweet potatoes. Packages start at $49.
There may be no better restaurant to celebrate Mardi Gras with than Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, and its “house float tailgate special” is a great way to do it. A quart of Creole gumbo comes with four pieces of fried chicken and potato salad for $31.95 and a half-gallon of Creole gumbo comes with eight pieces and potato salad. The daily family meal, available through February 16, is enough to serve four people fried chicken and red beans for just $35. Call or email the restaurant to place an order for pickup.
Home delivery and catering chef Matthew Kopfler is offering a “Yardi Gras” package containing all the Fat Tuesday staples and more. For $205, get a dozen mini muffalettas, ham and cheese po’boy pistolettes, and servings of fried chicken and jambalaya; two salad platters, and a dozen king cake cinnamon rolls delivered to your door. Order online by Friday night at midnight.
Palm & Pine
Palm & Pine is again offering its popular foie gras king cake this season, made up of foie gras cream cheese filling, strawberry rosé jam, and pistachios. It’s now open for online preorders to pick up at the restaurant on February 12, 13, or 15.
Ralph’s on the Park/Red Fish Grill
A partnership between Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill and Ralph’s on the Park offers a Mardi Gras pack with traditional Fat Tuesday items as well as seasonal Louisiana favorites — shrimp remoulade with crostinis, crawfish etouffee, Cajun dirty rice, crabmeat deviled eggs, and king cake, $90 for two/$45 per person. Add a half-gallon or gallon of Hurricanes, frozen French 75s, or frozen boozy lemonade. Order on Red Fish Grill’s website by February 11 at noon to pick up from Ralph’s on the Park on Lundi Gras, February 15 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Urban South Brewery
One of the city’s favorite breweries, Urban South just released three new small-batch beers in honor of Mardi Gras, all available to order online for pickup at the Tchoupitoulas Street taproom. There are two IPAs — cleverly called “Sidewalk Side” and “Porch Side” as a play on Mardi Gras being home-based this year — the Sidewalk is an extra-hoppy double IPA and the Porch Side is a milkshake IPA, with the addition of lactose. The King Cake Milkshake Sour is supposed to give the flavor of cream cheese filling, cinnamon, and vanilla bean.
Ways to Celebrate Virtually
Thursday, February 11
New Orleans’s new downtown culinary and hospitality school, NOCHI, has been hosting widely varied cooking classes from local chefs throughout the pandemic, and this week’s is appropriately themed for Mardi Gras. Learn to make king cake with NOCHI’s events chef Scott Maki via Zoom on Thursday evening, with options for locals to have a recipe kit delivered in advance. Participants can register online with a $10 to $50 donation to receive the Zoom link, grocery list, equipment list, and recipe.
Friday, February 12
Royal Sonesta’s annual “Greasing of the Poles” will take place virtually this year, at 10 a.m. on Friday, February 12 on Facebook, with audiences invited to join the tradition via a watch party on the hotel’s Facebook page. This year’s theme, “Mardi Gras MASKerade,” celebrates the 51st year of the annual event made famous by irreverent, audacious performances.
Friday, February 12 — Sunday, February 14
Mardi Gras for All Y’all is a three-day virtual event put on in partnership by NOLA.com and Mardi Gras World, featuring New Orleans chefs from food icons like Emeril’s, Antoine’s, Dooky Chase’s, and more, as well as musical performances and historical spotlights on floats, music, costumes, food, and other Carnival traditions. Watch live at 8 p.m. CT on February 12, 13, and 14 here.
Tuesday, February 16
Carnival season culminates with the ultimate party host, New Orleans’s own Big Freedia, and a virtual Fat Tuesday celebration that brings together the Queen of Bounce and fellow New Orleans native, NPR’s Gwen Thompkins. Tune into Big Freedia’s Mardi Gras Fete at 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday, February 16, for conversation and Big Freedia bartending demos.
For Eater New Orleans’ss complete guide to Mardi Gras 2021, see here.
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