The flavors of Mardi Gras are as bright and eye-catching as a handful of purple, green and yellow beads. Though perhaps "palate-catching" is more apt, given that we see the flashy beads and we chow down upon foods laden with Creole spice and Cajun history and modern twists on French Quarter-style dining.
Fat Tuesday is Feb. 17, and Los Angeles, never a city to deny a good round of laissez le bons temps rouler, will boast plenty of Bourbon-Street-y eats, from crustacean-rich stews to puffed-up pastries sitting in shallow, dry lakes of powdered sugar.
Even if you're beadless -- but, please, you probably won't be if you're out celebrating Mardi Gras in the City of Angels -- you can still go NOLA, food-wise, at a handful of SoCal spots going full bon temps. Point your trumpet towards...
What to do, where to go and what to see
Messhall: Recently arrived chief toque Shane Pritchett is doing it up in Los Feliz on Fat Tuesday in honor of his hometown, New Orleans. Chef Pritchett, by the by, was hired by Emeril Lagasse to work at Emeril's, so count on the two-course feast, which includes a crab & shrimp boil, to have that big-flavor bayou zing. Shall there also be cinnamon raisin bread budding with praline sauce to de-hot any over-zing'd palates? Yes. Also, let us daydream about praline sauce. Also, an over-zing'd palate is rather marvelous come Mardi Gras.
House of Blues: Of course the Southern-focused kitchen of the Sunset Strip staple is going the good-eatin' Mardi Gras grub route. Look for "homegrown soul food" -- beignets and ribs and corn fritters and po' boys are on the menu -- and a whole slate of sounds inspired by Louisiana's liveliest accordion-plus-blues-plus-dance beats. Need tickets? This is an out-sized, multi-floor party, so better snag 'em ahead of time.
The Original Farmers Market: The Third & Fairfax public market kept the beads aloft all weekend long ahead of Mardi Gras, but the party continues on Mardi Gras itself. The Gumbo Pot will stay busy in the West Patio -- think jambalaya and beignets and beyond -- and Eddie Baytos and the Nervis Bros will play. Can you dance while holding jambalaya? Well, you could try, but best down it first before hitting the dance floor. (Dancing while holding a beignet, though, should be plenty safe.)