If a month had a mantra, I believe February’s is YOLO. It’s the shortest month of the year, therefore February has to roll out all the stops when it comes to holiday celebrations. Sure, Valentine’s Day is the lovey dovey one, President’s Day is the political one and Groundhog Day is … the weird one. But when it comes to YOLO, it’s all about Mardi Gras.
I used to live in New Orleans, and since most of my in-laws are current residents of this historic city, I’ve been to my fair share of Mardi Gras celebrations. Walking from parade to parade, drinking Abita after Abita and enjoying friends and strangers alike is just a way of life there — I mean, adults and kids have a get-out-out-of-work/school card on Fat Tuesday. It’s like the city is asking for everyone to let the good times roll.
While we in the A-T-L don’t get a paid holiday to stuff our faces with king cake and scream for beads and throws, there are still some great local places to celebrate. Here’s a bit of lagniappe to help you make the most out of spending Mardi Gras in Atlanta!
1193 Collier Road NW, Atlanta • (404) 352-2777
Mardi Gras is a time when 10-cent beads and plastic Frisbees become the most valuable commodities on earth, and beer flows like water. Grab a glass of that amber brew at Big Easy Grille in the Westside, and be ready for a party. On Fat Tuesday (in addition to the party they held last weekend), the party starts at 11 a.m. (and goes until ?) and is an homage to all things New Orleans — hot, boiled crawfish, excellent music from Wasted Potential Brass Band, drink specials, lots of beads and a ton of fun.
4835 N. Main St., Acworth • (770) 966-1515
You may be rolling your eyes that we’re sending you to Acworth, but you’ll owe us an apology the second you walk into Henry’s Louisiana Grill. Besides the amazing food and drinks, Henry’s is known for its epic Bayou Brunch, sometimes featuring gospel choirs, blues groups and other soulful musical acts. But Mardi Gras is like Henry’s thesis — they celebrate hard for the days leading up to Fat Tuesday, and then it’s an all-out party marathon. This year, starting at 8 a.m., Fox 5 will film the restaurant’s Mardi Gras breakfast. The real action starts at 11 a.m., with all-day drink specials, a costume contest, bead throws and king cake. Dinner includes the Abita girls handing out swag and at 9 p.m., adults 21+ can hang upstairs for Pardi Gras, featuring DJ Cajun Chris spinning Louisiana music plus drink and food specials.
3209 Maple Drive, Atlanta • (404) 237-1313
If you want a classy Mardi Gras celebration, it’s time to visit one of Buckhead’s oldest, most beloved restaurants, McKinnon’s Louisiane Restaurant. Since 1972, McKinnnon’s has been serving Creole and Cajun specialties within an establishment known for fine dining. But if you think this classic restaurant takes itself — and its stuffed eggplant — too seriously, think again. You can sing along with the house pianist three days a week at open mic night. In honor of Mardi Gras, staff will add a few pieces of lagniappe on each table, beads, horns, etc., and show off a few surprises for diners.
340 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur • (404) 788-9141
5407 E. Mountain St., Stone Mountain • (404) 617-0044
Looking for something sweet after all those crawfish, shrimp and Cajun seafood platters? Make your way to New Orleans Snoball Café for something sweet this Mardi Gras. The great thing about this eatery is that like the actual New Orleans snoball stands, you can get your order naked (“fluffy” shaved ice and flavor), stuffed (shaved ice and flavoring sandwiched with ice cream), crowned (covered in condensed milk or other toppings) or all three; and unlike actual New Orleans snoball stands that close in the winter, this one is open year-round. During Mardi Gras, the café sells authentic king cakes (must be special ordered) and their famous New Orleans popcorn mixes (try the beignet popcorn, covered in powdered sugar) or just order a purple, green and gold snoball and eat the official colors of Mardi Gras.
4337 Buford Hwy., Atlanta • (404) 329-1610
New Orleanians are notoriously picky seafood eaters — and why shouldn’t they be? Even the gas stations in the Crescent City have great po’boys! However, we think both native and newbie alike would be happy to dine at Crawfish Shack. These little morsels are served with an Asian twist, with a Vietnamese-Cambodian flavor profile. And if all that tangy shellfish and crawfish juice wasn’t good enough, Crawfish Shack Seafood is teaming up with Flip Flops Atlanta for a killer Mardi Gras event — $15 special low country boil featuring a pound of crawfish, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn, as well as drink specials from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., all at Flip Flops, located at 1140 Crescent Ave. NE in Atlanta.
740 Ralph McGill Blvd., Atlanta • (470) 225-6162
Although not a typical Cajun or Creole dining establishment, Venkman’s does pride itself on having the best food and music in the city (two traits very much revered in NOLA). And since Nick Melvin, Venkman’s executive chef, is a Louisiana native, he likes to go big during Mardi Gras. Today, Venkman’s is having a full menu takeover, featuring gumbo, shrimp, boudin balls and eggplant etouffée. Onstage, guests will be treated to a Jazz Jam, hosted by Joe Grandsen, who performs every Tuesday with his house band. If for some reason you can’t make it to Venkman’s today, don’t worry — the restaurant/venue ALWAYS has something cool and fun happening (just check their site and social media feeds for tips and announcements).
3377 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta • (404) 523-3600
W Atlanta – Buckhead has some of the best socializing spots in the city and during Mardi Gras, hotel guests and locals alike will have the chance to really get to know each other during the 3rd Annual Fat Tuesday Party at Cook Hall, the hotel’s modern gastropub. Attendees will feast on Louisiana-inspired dishes from Chef David Gross, enjoy drink specials, like $5 sazeracs and $5 hurricane punch, and listen and dance to a live set of New Orleans-style swing music from Sweet Deat and the Revivalists.
There are many other places to party so hard you won’t be able to walk on Wednesday, or at least delicious spots to stuff your faces (we’re looking at you Just LoafN’ Po’Boys food truck). So grab a slice of king cake, start dancing to that brass band and for goodness sake, hold on to those beads!