What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Celebrate Mardi Gras in the Triangle (Update)

Posted February 17, 2012
Updated February 20, 2012

As a New Orleans native, I always get a little homesick this time of year. Seeing photos of my friends at parades, and my mom telling me about the King Cake she just bought, leaves me a little sad. 

But there are many ways to celebrate Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday) in the Triangle: 

Head to Durham for a carnival parade on Tuesday. The party starts at 7 p.m. at the CCB Plaza, 201 Corcoran St.. The parade will be led by the Bulltown Strutters second-line group. 

The route goes right past Geer Street Garden, which is serving a 3-course Mardi-Gras-themed menu plus a cocktail for $28 per person. Selections include: Crawfish Ravioli, Red Beans & Rice, Fried Oysters, Shrimp Creole, Vegetarian or Chicken & Andouille Gumbo and Jambalaya. For dessert there is King Cake! 

Fullsteam is hosting a Masquerade Ball from 4 p.m. - midnight. The night will include food trucks, music, prizes and a King Cake competition. 

Also in Durham, Papa Mojo's Roadhouse will celebrate Mardi Gras with zydeco music from Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos, Cajun country band Shamu Garcon and Rhonda Robichaux with her sultry vocals and swampy guitar. 

Tuesday at Papa Mojo's will also include free face painting for the children and caricatures. Also expect traditional beads and masks. It is $10 to get in and every attendee gets a free copy of Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos CD, Papa Mojo's Roadhouse. 

In Raleigh, Battistella's has special lunch and dinner menus through Mardi Gras Day. The three course lunch menu ($15 per person) features Crawfish Salad, Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice and Fried Oyster Po'Boys. The dinner menu ($30 per person) offers Pecan Crusted Catfish Amandine plus other picks and several tasty-sounding desserts. I personally enjoy their Bread Pudding with white chocolate sauce, but they also have King Cake, Praline Pecan Fudge and Rum Raisin Rice Pudding. 

UPDATE: The Big Easy in Raleigh is hosting its regular Tuesday night trivia on Mardi Gras. Trivia starts at 8 p.m. with Big Chief hitting the stage at 11 p.m. There will be prizes, beads and more with no cover charge.

The London Bridge Pub is also getting into the Mardi Gras spirit with a zydeco band, drink specials, free food and giveaways on Tuesday. 

(Note: A King Cake is a traditional New Orleans pastry made for carnival season. It features sugar and icing on top and can be stuffed with fruit, cream cheese, chocolate, etc. A plastic baby is placed inside and the person who gets the slice containing the baby has to buy the next cake. I hear Whole Foods is selling these cakes in the Triangle. But I haven't tried them! I typically order mine from Haydel's Bakery back home and have it shipped. WRAL's Ken Smith is a big fan of microwaving his slice for a few seconds to melt the sugar.) 

So who has been to Mardi Gras? It isn't all just Bourbon Street debauchery. There are lots of family-friendly parades in the New Orleans and suburb areas. When we go, we like to make some sandwiches and make a picnic on the route while waiting for the parades to start. Some people even make it into a tailgating event by bringing barbecue pits! 


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  • kjwh Feb 21, 2012

    I listened to NOLA radio streaming on iTunes during the day, then this evening we went to Broad Street Deli in Dunn for a Mardi Gras dinner of shrimp etouffe. Yummy! I drug out my box of beads from the year I lived in Metairie and wore a bunch of the best ones. A shrimp po boy from R&O's (dressed of course) and king cake would have really made my day, though.

  • Khanrahan Feb 21, 2012

    Whole Foods makes King Cakes but I don't think they are filled. I just order mine from Haydel's back in NOLA. Who is headed out to Mardi Gras events tonight in the Triangle?

  • beachboater Feb 21, 2012

    Do the girls of the Triangle do what the girls of New Orleans do for beads?

    That would certainly draw a crowd.

  • Always160 Feb 21, 2012

    Who makes King Cakes in Raleigh?

  • Khanrahan Feb 20, 2012

    I went last year for the weekend before and then stayed for Mardi Gras. We hit NOLA for the day then stayed for Bacchus and Endymion that night bc it was a rain-out the night before and both krewes had to roll on the same ngiht. Beautiful floats! such a great time.

  • RichardScott Feb 20, 2012

    Was gonna mention McKenzie's and/or Schwegmann's, but they ain't dere no more. :-(

    I'm sure I'm leaving a bunch of stuff out....lettuce, creole tomatoes and mayo (dressed) on ya po-boy.

    Was there the whole week last year...even rode in Endymion...can't make it this year.

  • Khanrahan Feb 20, 2012

    Creole cream cheese from Dorignac's used to be my grandmother's favorite! But you can't forget starting the day with McKenzie's buttermilk drops - bought now from the Tastee Donuts. Making me homesick ya'll!

  • RichardScott Feb 20, 2012

    Mardi Gras = Large box of Popeyes chicken, Randazzo's king cake(s)and Barg'q root beer. Po-boys made on Reising's or Leideheimer french bread with Blue Plate mayonnaise and Chisesi's ham from Zuppardo's or Dorignac's. Dixie beer, if ya gotta and an attitude fashioned on the streets of New Orleans. Who Dat!!!

  • Khanrahan Feb 20, 2012

    You must share your recipe! I am dying for a chocolate cheesecake one from Gambinos!

  • dwntwnboy Feb 20, 2012

    ....also dropping off a home made King Cake to my mothe today as well- I make a MEAN King Cake! :-)