Our Moderately Mega-Colossal Mardi Gras Roundup

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After compiling two days of ten gazillion Valentine's Day roundup items, we need a drink. Too bad today isn't a day devoted to excessive alcohol consumption in every direction... wait a minute... it is! It's Mardi Gras, and we just remembered that we got a bazillion press releases about it, too! Here's stuff you could do tonight and hazily remember tomorrow.

• Big Jones' Mardi Gras menu will feature traditional savory items like barbecued shrimp; po-boys; red beans and rice; and chicken and sausage jambalaya. For dessert, enjoy Homemade King Cake, buttery yeast cake filled with pecan praline cheesecake; and Calas - a Creole soured-rice fritter that was popular street food in the 19th century. The celebratory menu also marks the return of the family-style dinning meal A Cajun Country Ramble, ca. 1955 which offers four courses of authentic Cajun cooking for the entire table. The cost of the family meal is $25 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are recommended. For more information or to make a reservation, call 773-275-5725.

• Carnivale will celebrate Fat Tuesday on February 12 with live music, Samba dancers, a stilt walker, ActionBooth Photos, party beads, masks and a Mardi Gras-inspired menu created by Executive Chef David Dworshak. Menu highlights include the Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo ($8), Blackened Redfish (with mirliton and creole mustard crab salad; market price), Smoked Pork Belly (with truffle corn polenta, mushroom trinity sofrita; $25) and Apple Cream Cheese Bread Pudding (Satsuma salad and bourbon vanilla sauce, $8). Reservations recommended: call 312-850-5005.

• The Trenchermen will add some Mardi Gras specials to its regular menu tonight, including carbonated Hurricanes and jambalaya andouille corn dogs.

• Hub 51 has hurricanes with Don Q Tequila for $10 a pop— complete with souvenir cup which gets refilled for $6. Sibling Paris Club reminds you that Cajun food has a French connection with specials like Chicken Etouffée and Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo.

• Frontier chef Brian Jupiter was raised in New Orleans, so he invites Chicagoans to celebrate Fat Tuesday with an authentic Louisiana shrimp boil. For $20 per person, guests will enjoy a shrimp boil complete with potatoes and corn, drink specials and more.

• Shaw's Crab House's six day celebration culminates tonight with a wild evening featuring Mississippi Heat rocking the Oyster Bar and specially-ordered-from-New Orleans Crawfish and delectable Cajun and Creole dishes including the Crawfish Po’Boy ($16.99), Blackened or Sauteed Redfish with Crawfish Sauce ($23.99) and Crawfish Pot Pie ($18.99). Guests can also sample Shaw’s famous Jambalaya ($7.99 cup/$9.99 bowl) and Seafood Gumbo ($5.99 cup/$7.99 bowl). Wash it all down with a classic Pat O’Brien Hurricane cocktail ($9).

• Also of a musical bent: City Winery’s special Mardi Gras menu will feature gumbo and cabernets from around the world during this Fat Tuesday celebration. Internationally regarded Foghorn Stringband will play an Old Time Mardi Gras Celebration in the style you would have heard stringbands play on Southern radio stations in the 1930s; there's a $12 cover.

• Cactus Bar and Grill will hold their third annual Crawfish Eating Contest for charity on Tuesday, February 12. This Fat Tuesday event, taking place in the Financial District, will encourage competitors to consume three pounds of crawfish in the fastest amount of time possible. Contestants will be divided into heats, and the winner of each heat will compete in a final round. There is a $25 fee to participate and all competitors will receive a Cactus t-shirt. A portion of the entrance fee will be donated to New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

• The Southern holds a low country boil for $19 per person, plus a Dixieland band, beads, giveaways and $3 Abita Brewing Company beers all evening long. No cover, but get tickets here.

• Moonshine Brewing Company will throw its annual Cajun Crawl, serving over 200 lbs. of live fresh crawfish ($7/half pound or $12/pound). Other Cajun delights include fresh gumbo at $3 per cup / $5 per bowl. Guests can put out the fire with Moonshine’s own micro brews ($5) or authentic, freshly-made Hurricanes ($6) using a secret recipe straight from a Moonshine friend - the world-famous Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar - Bourbon Street’s most iconic saloon known to be the oldest in the U.S.

• In keeping with the practice of eating richer foods before the ritual fasting of Lent, Epic Executive Chef Mark Pollard has created Fat Tuesday specials: Po Boy Burger; Grilled Andouille Sausage; and Housemade Doughnuts. Beverage Director Michael Christiani will offer an "Epic Hurricane" for $8.

• Socca chef Roger Herring presents his take on the Cajun blowout starting at 5 pm - featuring dinner specialties like Blackened Scallops (crab & okra creole style risotto) - $24, Andouille & Crayfish Gumbo - $20, and Bananas Foster Croissant Bread Pudding $8; and drink specials including: Mint Juleps, Hurricanes, Sazeracs, Brandy Milk Punch, and Absinthe Frappes.

• Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club will host an extravagant Mardi Gras Masquerade Party on Fat Tuesday, February 12, complete with complimentary beads, hats, festive decor and more. Sip half-priced martinis (choose from over 100 selections) while noshing on half-priced appetizers crafted by chef JoAnn Witherell. Enjoy live, intermittent performances by the fabulous Kit Kat Diva Kinley Preston, as she impersonates pop stars and Hollywood icons in over-the-top garb. Come dressed to impress, as Kit Kat will award a $100 cash prize to the person wearing the most uniquely decorated masque.

• DS Tequila Company and Minibar will have a party to benefit Operation Bear Hug ($10 suggested donation), featuring $9 Hurricane Yards, $3 Jameson, $5 burgers and more.

• Moe’s Cantina offers Mardi Gras-inspired dishes including $12 Cajun shrimp taco platters, $8 Andouille sausage and Chihuahua cheese quesadillas and $5 New Orleans-style red beans & rice. Fat Tuesday drink deals include $8 hurricanes, $6 Abita Turbodog bottles and $4 Bud Light bottles.

• John Barleycorn offers Big Easy specials on Fat Tuesday such as $10 shrimp or chicken po’ boys with Cajun cottage fries and $8 chicken and Andouille sausage jambalaya. All day drink deals include $8 hurricanes and $6 Abita Turbodog drafts.

• At Franklin Tap, Chef Glen Pistorio will create: crawfish etoufee ($12); seafood gumbo ($5/$7) and shrimp po boys ($12). $1 from every dish will be donated to New Orleans Habitat for Humanity.

• Tuman’s and Mac’s American Pub offer New Orleans favorites on February 12 such as $8 Andouille sausage and chicken gumbo and $3 Abita drafts.

• Toni Patisserie and Cafe will offer two types of King Cakes, a French style cake with puff pastry and almond filling ($17.95) and a New Orleans style cake made with yeast and cinnamon, covered with a powdered sugar glaze and decorated with colored sugar (serves 8-10 $16.95, or order a large version for $49.95 that serves 30).