You don’t have to drive down to the Big Easy for King Cake, parades and gumbo with these Raleigh celebrations of the New Orleans tradition.
by Jamaul Moore and Addie Ladner
Zydeco music? Check. Jambalaya? Check. King Cakes and Beignets? Check, check! There is an increasing influx of New Orleanians moving to the Triangle and with that, many ways to celebrate the famous New Orleans holiday Mardi Gras. From dining at establishments like St. Roch and Hummingbird that offer refined Cajun food year-round to grabbing tickets to Masquerade parties, there’s tons of options for carnival season fans here in town. Read on for more 20 ways to do the 2023 Mardi Gras season in the Triangle big this year.
Indulge in Locally Made Beignets and King Cake
It would be a disservice if you didn’t take advantage of the bakeries in the area that offer festive Mardi Gras confections this time of year. Order a traditional King Cake from Lucettegrace on February 17, 18, 20 and 21, or indulge in delicious beignets and coffee from Mr. A’s Beignets food truck. Another place you can find King cakes are at the Triangle based French bakery La Farm, available from February 10 through 22.
Celebrate Fat Tuesday with Mel Melton & the Wicked in Cary
Hear Zydeco Influenced blues band Mel Melton & the Wicked at Bond Brothers Beer Company Eastside in downtown Cary. Enjoy offerings from The Sandwich Man food truck from 5 – 9 p.m. and Cajun tunes while you sip wine, beer or cider for Fat Tuesday.
February 21, 8 – 10 p.m.; $10 online; 602 E. Chatham Street, Cary; Tickets at eventbrite.com
Make Your Way to the Mardi Gras Crawfish Boil with Whitaker & Atlantic
Come on down the 4th Annual Mardi Gras Crawfish Boil with Whitaker & Atlantic. Enjoy live jazz by Atomic Rhythm All Stars, dress up in funky masks and costumes, and help yourself to some New Orleans favorites like crawfish boil, gumbo, muffulettas, and more.
February 19, 1 – 5 p.m.; $45 online, $50 at the door; 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Suite 111. Tickets at resy.com
Take the Kids to a Mardi Gras Party at John Chavis Memorial Park
If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity for Mardi Gras, celebrate at John Chavis Memorial Park down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Enjoy mask and bead giveaways, food trucks, and festive music for their entire family.
February 21, 4 – 7 p.m.; free; 505 Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard; raleighnc.gov
Hear New Orleans Favorites from Boom Unit Brass Band & Organ Failure at the Pour House
Another event celebrating the musical styles of Louisiana, the Boom Unit Brass Band will be performing at the Pour House Music Hall & Record Shop right near Moore Square. This brass band, accompanied by Organ Failure, will play New Orleans favorites, “Li’l Liza Jane” and “Bourbon Street Parade,” and even some of their own material. While you’re there, take some time to browse the record collection at their in-house retail store before the store closes at 6 p.m.
February 21, 8 – 10 p.m.; $12; 224 S. Blount Street; thepourhousemusichall.com
Head to Mitch’s Tavern
Settled on Hillsborough St, Mitch’s Tavern is having a celebration on February 21 with their signature dishes and drinks from their menu. While plans are still being finalized, the crew at Mitch’s Tavern guarantee an event celebration that will be worth experiencing and their chili and gumbo, a local favorite, is always on the menu
February 21, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; 2426 Hillsborough Street; mitchstavernraleigh.com
Get Dressed up for Fortnight Brewing’s Mardi Gras Masquerade Party
In case you still want to party after Mardi Gras, there’s always the Mardi Gras Masquerade Party at Fortnight Brewing Company. In addition to lively music, enter the costume contest on the evening of Friday,
February 24, 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.; $5 online, $10 at the door. 1894 South Franklin Street, Wake Forest; Tickets at eventbrite.com
Make a Dinner Reservation at One of These Louisiana Restaurants
Hummingbird is the type of place that serves Creole-inspired fare all year like fried chicken livers, and sweet potato gnocchi. Serving both dinner and brunch, you can enjoy some of New Orleans favorites, even after Mardi Gras season, whether you order online or make a reservation to visit this establishment.
Wednesday-Saturday from 5 – 10 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 2:45 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road; hummingbirdraleigh.com
The Big Easy
At The Big Easy, you’ll enjoy traditional dishes you would normally find in New Orleans, all year round, not just on Mardi Gras. This establishment will guarantee an authentic dining experience. On Fat Tuesday,The Big Easy will host the band MikeMickXer, have bead giveaways and special deals on New Orleans drinks, including $7 hurricanes and $4 Abita purple haze. They’ll also be serving traditional gumbo and jambalaya from their menu. 222 Fayetteville Street; bigeasync.com
Just west on Wilmington Street, St. Roch is a restaurant that strives to serve “cliché-free” New Orleans cuisine. Owned by chef Sunny Gerhart, a native of New Orleans, it serves traditional dishes such as crawfish hushpuppies, crispy frog legs, smoked boudin, and other Big Easy delicacies. 223 W. Wilmington Street; strochraleigh.com
Stage a Cajun Style Festival at Home
Mardi Gras season is more than just parties, music, and Creole-inspired dishes, but also cocktail recipes if you’re feeling adventurous. With help from some local research, here’s the history and how you can prepare classic New Orleans cocktails right at home.
If you’re in the mood for an appetizer, then Vivian Howard’s recipe for shrimp cocktail might be the best dish you can serve before the main course. Howard guarantees this appetizer is fun, interactive, and can be easily made in a day if you have company.
While you can certainly dine at St. Roch, Sunny Gerhart has shared his authentic recipes for Pimento Cheese, Gumbo and Oyster Po’ Boys to make at home. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, give his petite brioche King Cakes a try for dessert as well.
This article was originally published on February 8, 2023 on waltermagazine.com