This isn't the Big Easy, but you can still celebrate Mardi Gras in Charlotte. So break out the beads and the masks and head out for one of these venues for fun and New Orleans style food and drink. Remember that the Mardi Gras season extends for more that just Fat Tuesday as people around the world celebrate Carnival in the days leading up to Lent.
e2 emeril’s eatery
Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse opened his first restaurant in New Orleans back in 1990. Today's he's a world-wide sensation, spreading the Big Easy spirit wherever he goes - even in Charlotte which has its own emeril's eatery (lower case preferred) next to the Mint Museum Uptown. e2 will feature a special Mardi Gras menu daily Friday, Feb 27 through March 4 (closed Sunday). Doug Burns & The Dixieland Express will entertain on Tuesday, March 4 during dinner, and authentic New Orleans parade beads will be handed out to patrons nightly. Reservations suggested.
e2's Mardi Gras menu:
- Mini Meat Pie
- Warm Rabbit Remoulade (Braised Rabbit, Fried Green Tomato, Pepper Jelly) $12
- Crawfish Bread (House Baguette, Fontina, Creole Remoulade) $9
- Baby Spinach Salad with Crispy Fried Oyster, Goat Cheese, Warm Andouille and Balsamic Vinaigrette $10
- Panned Pork Loin with Crawfish Etouffee, Plantation Rice, Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Apple Slaw. Lunch $16. Dinner $23
- Pecan-Crusted Crab Cakes with Shoestring Potatoes, Grilled Vegetable Relish, Creole Meuniere. Lunch $18. Dinner $24
- Shrimp Sausage Pasta (House Semolina Pasta, Shrimp Sausage, Sauce Piquant). Lunch $14. Dinner $22.
- King cake with cream cheese ice cream and chicory coffee syrup $7
- Southern Hospitality $8
- Abita $3
For additional Mardi Gras drink recipes served at Emeril restaurants around the country, including a Cajun Bloody Mary, the Cajun Storm made with spiced rum and passion fruit, and the King Cake Martini, visit this link.
Want to keep the good times rollin'? On Fridays from March 14 through May 30, weather permitting, e2 will host its popular New Orleans Crawfish Boil on the patio, 4:30-7 p.m. The all-you-can-eat price of $15 includes peel-em-yourself Louisiana crawfish boiled with corn, mushrooms and Andouille sausage - a genuine Louisiana experience. Beer is the traditional beverage at crawfish boils, and e2 will have Abita on draft for $5 and bottles of Budweiser and Bud Lite for $4.
This French bistro in South Park's Piedmont Row offers a special prix fixe three-course Mardi Gras menu on Tuesday, March 4, priced at $45 per person. Costumes and reservations encouraged.
1st Course, choice of:
- Shrimp and andouille gumbo with crispy okra
- Crispy battered soft-shell crawfish with spicy creole aioli
2nd Course, choice of:
- Red fish with crawfish etouffe, crispy dirty rice cake and sautéed haricots vert
- Tasso stuffed Beeler's Farm pork chop with corn maque choux and spicy pepper jus
3rd Course, choice of:
- Banana Foster's bread pudding with candied walnuts, dark rum anglaise and vanilla ice cream
- New Orleans style beignets with valrhona chocolate sauce and raspberry coulis
Georges' Mardi Gras drink specials include the GB Hurricane, Hand Grenade, Sazerac, and Mardi Gras Sangria.
Founded in New Orleans back in 1965, Ruth's Chris restaurants celebrate their roots with New Orleans drink and food specials, offered this year for the entire month of March. Both the Uptown and SouthPark Charlotte locations are participating. Reservations are required for this special menu.
- Louisiana Seafood and Sausage Gumbo $9
- Fat City Oysters, half dozen $10, full dozen $19 with Creole Butter and French bread, as served in Fat City, Metairie, LA
- Crawfish Etoufee $30
- BBQ Shrimp and Grits $32
- Blackened Scallops Cajun style on a bed of sauteed spinach and roasted red peppers $33
- 6 oz Bistro with Colossal BBQ Creole Crab $34
- Live Maine Lobster 2 to 5 lbs. $32 per pound
- Cold water blackened Lobster tail $34
- Add a 7 oz. lobster tail to any steak $28
- Spicy Lobster lightly fried in a spicy cream sauce $20
- Ramos Fizz $8
- Ruth's Sazerac $9
- Broad Street Hurricane $11
Rea Village: 704-814-9882
Quail Corners Shopping Center: 704-552-1292
Fat Tuesday specials with live music on the patio at both locations on Tuesday March 4.
Drink specials: Bourbon Street Splash and Ilios Hurricane
Food specials: Oyster "Greek" Po' Boy and Classic Jambalaya
All of the Hickory Taverns will be letting the good times roll with food and drink specials, bead giveaways and Zydeco music on Tuesday, March 4.
- New Orleans BBQ Shrimp $4.95
- 50 cent oysters 4-10 pm
- Hickorycanes $4.75 plus other drink specials
Razoo's Cajun Cafe
Family friendly cafe at Concord Mills has a number of Mardi Gras specials, offered daily through March 4, in addition to its regular Cajun menu.
- Boiled crawfish $4.99 a pound
- Frozen Hurrycanes $3.50
- Abita drafts $3
- Rat Toes (fried jalapeno peppers stuffed with shrimp, crab and cream cheese) $4
- Fried pickles $3
- Raw oysters $8.99 dozen, $5.99 half-dozen
All IHOP locations will be celebrating Mardi Gras and National Pancake Day on March 4. (Many cultures around the world celebrate the beginning of Lent with pancakes, so its not that much of a stretch.) Each patron who comes in on Tuesday March 4 receives a free short stack of pancakes. IHOP asks that you consider making a donation to support the Children's Miracle Network, a worthy cause if there ever was one.
Planning your own Mardi Gras celebration this year? No Fat Tuesday party is complete without a King Cake. A soft white cake, it typically includes a plastic baby doll. Whoever get the doll is king or queen of the Mardi Gras (and traditionally hosts next year's event). Order your King Cake from Great Harvest North (704-971-7280) and they'll throw in the beads for your party.
For additional suggestions on places to celebrate Mardi Gras see our related article: Best Cajun and Creole restaurants in Charlotte.