Where to Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler for Mardi Gras


Beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde.


King cake; Flickr photo from Emily Carlin.


Po’ boy at the Parkway in New Orleans.

Here’s a selection of happening ~MARDI GRAS~ spots, so take your pick, or picks (party animal), and let the good times roll!

You can kick off the celebration early on Monday March 7th, when ~BOXING ROOM~ is hosting a Mardi Gras celebration and final preview dinner (before they open in April) in ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~’s main dining room. Executive Chef Justin Simoneaux is offering a three-course prix-fixe menu featuring some of his personal favorite dishes of New Orleans and coastal Louisiana, with optional starter oysters on the half shell ($2.50). First course: deep-fried alligator with Creole rémoulade and lemon, or New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp with French bread, herbs and garlic; second course: pan-fried catfish with crawfish étouffée and grits, or red beans and rice with house-smoked sausage and cornbread; third course: Mardi Gras king’s cake, or praline ice cream sundae. Beer and wines from the extensive selection that will be available at Boxing Room available à la carte. A portion of the proceeds will benefit For the Bayou. $35 per person, excludes beverages, tax, and gratuity. Reservations (415-551-1590) available from 5:30pm-10pm. 398 Hayes St. at Gough.

~TOWN HALL~’s Fat Tuesday celebration starts at 6pm on March 8th with N’awlins fare (fried chicken, jambalaya, gumbo, etouffée, BBQ shrimp, oyster selection); live music from the D’Amphibians and live samba dancers; special drinks (Louisiana-style hurricanes, Abita beer, Sagatiba caipirinhas); and the requisite beads, feather boas, masks, and live face painters. Get tickets early online at $60 per person (plus tax), or $75 per person at the door (tax inclusive).

~BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD~ may open up for dinner in time for Mardi Gras. Don’t let the party stop, call ahead: 415-345-8100. 652 Polk St. at Eddy.

~THE FRONT PORCH~ is cooking up a shrimp boil on Fat Tuesday, flying the shrimp in from Terrebone Parish. The party starts at 5pm and goes ‘til the shrimp runs out, plus expect Abita beers, bead throwing, and a live jazz band. Full dinner service will be available all night with some New Orleans special additions to the menu.

The Fillmore District will turn into Mardi Gras West for the second annual, neighborhood-wide Fat Tuesday celebration next Tuesday March 8th. Festivities begin at 5pm, and plaza entertainment is free. The Fillmore Center Plaza will have live jazz music (Bobbie Webb) and dancing, stilt walkers, jugglers, and face painters ‘til 7pm; and a procession parade and band (from Geary to Eddy) ‘til 8pm. Seven Fillmore Street restaurants and clubs join the celebration with live music and free Mardi Gras beads and masks. In keeping with the festivities, each of the venues will feature live music, and signature Fat Tuesday libations and nibbles. Here’s the deets on each venue:

~1300 ON FILLMORE~: live band featuring the New Squatoolas. Chef David Lawrence’s special New Orleans menu: sautéed wild mushrooms with spring herbs mascarpone yellow hominy grits; potato and smoked ham hock beignet with black trumpet mushrooms; fresh water shrimp hushpuppies with ancho chile aioli; barbecue shrimp ‘n’ creamy grits; black skillet-fried chicken po’ boy sliders with jalapeno slaw, spicy rémoulade sauce; maple syrup slow-braised beef short rib sliders with onion marmalade, crumbled blue cheese, brioche buns; organic head lettuce, endive, shaved fennel, sierra beauty apples, pecans, honey-champagne vinaigrette; black skillet-roasted catfish with andouille sausage, shrimp jambalaya, cornbread panzanella; chicken and okra gumbo. Drink specials, including hurricanes, The Sazerac, SoCo ($6), New Orleans Abita beer ($3); and free beads and giveaways. 7:30pm-10:30pm. 1300 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-771-7100.

~YOSHI’S SAN FRANCISCO~: Fat Tuesday Carnival party, featuring Loco Bloco, Bayonics, and special guests in the Lounge, Hot Pink Feathers and Blue Bone Express. $10.

~SHEBA PIANO LOUNGE~: live band: Latin Breeze; free masks and beads; fresh fruit Leblon ($6); beer ($4); tacos ($5); lentil, meat, or crab sambussas ($7); chicken drumettes ($8); and meatballs with blue cheese ($8).

~FAT ANGEL FOOD AND LIBATION~: 23oz. pints of Abita’s SOS (Save Our Shore) Weizen Pils for $6.

~RASSELAS JAZZ CLUB~: live music by Bohemian Knuckle Boogie.

~GUSSIE’S CHICKEN AND WAFFLES~: shrimp New Orleans, jambalaya, and seafood gumbo all weekend through Fat Tuesday; live band; drink specials ($4-$5).

~BOOM BOOM ROOM~: live music with The Brothers Goldman, Jolly and Steinkoler Duo; $5 cover.

In Oakland, ~PICÁN~ is bringing a slice of the Big Easy to the East Bay with Bourbon, Beads, and a Band on Tuesday March 8th from 8pm-11pm. It’s a funky Mardi Gras party done with traditional Southern flair. They’ll be serving New Orleans fare like crawfish jambalaya fritters; chicken, andouille, and shrimp gumbo; Cajun chicken wings; Abita root beer callas, and complimentary Mardi Gras cocktails. Wear your masks and festive beads, and enjoy a live Zydeco band. Tickets are $49 in advance online; $59 at the door; a portion of the proceeds benefits St. Augustine’s High School in New Orleans’s 7th Ward. 2295 Broadway at 23rd, Oakland.

Also in the East Bay, ~MISS PEARL’S JAM HOUSE~ is rocking Jack London Square all weekend long. The Mardi Gras menu will feature fried Louisiana catfish with Cajun tartare sauce, fennel-onion salad ($9); New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp with garlic and herb butter sauce, grilled baguette, herb oil ($12); Creole gumbo with pulled chicken, andouille sausage, tasso ham, gulf prawns, okra, steamed rice ($18), and seafood jambalaya with spicy Cajun rice, manila clams, gulf prawns, baby scallops, and tasso ham ($21).

They’re starting their second annual Mardi Gras Festival on Friday March 4th with local favorite Dave Landon and his Blues Band opening the festivities at 8pm in the Jam House. Then Saturday March 5th 1pm-4pm, Miss Pearl’s new executive chef, Mike Davis, has challenged local chefs to a gumbo throwdown known as Gumbostravaganza 2. Mike Davis, Serafin Cruz, and Victor Sosa (all from Miss Pearl’s) will compete against each other and against Dean Dupuis (Picán), Eddie Blyden (Henry’s), and Brandon Dubea (Angeline’s) for bragging rights on the Square. Entry to the event is free, gumbo samples are complimentary, and attendees are the judges! Here’s the icing: all ballots will be entered for a drawing for a free New Orleans eating extravaganza at Miss Pearl’s.

The party continues Sunday March 6th and Monday March 7th with an all-day Mardi Gras Happy Hour. And finally, on Tuesday March 8th from 7pm-12am, Miss Pearl’s Fat Tuesday Fête Noir will feature Cajun-inspired revelry with Midnight Zydeco and blues from the Craig Caffal Band (8pm); hurricanes ($5), frozen daiquiris ($5), and plenty of drink specials ($9-$11); king’s cake (find the hidden baby for a prize), and beignets for dessert; and a San Francisco trip giveaway. One Broadway St., Oakland, 510-444-7171.

So many parties, so little time.