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Chicago restaurants: 10 places to toast Mardi Gras and 1 Academy Award party

Shrimp boil is just one of the many Mardi Gras food specials on tap for Chicago
Frontier Restaurant

MARDI GRAS - It's a time for partying - eating and drinking special food and drinks - before the traditional penance-heavy period of Lent. You don't do penance? Hey, you can still party. Try something new - try one of these 10 places to do it in style.

  1. Commonwealth Tavern, 2000 W. Roscoe, celebrates Mardi Gras Feb. 27 to March 4 with $7 Hurricanes and a Jambalaya entree created by Executive Chef Kevin Church. The jambalaya, which features slow stewed andouille sausage, okra, and seafood like fresh shrimp, white fish and more, will be available for $12.
  2. Lottie's Pub, 1925 W. Cortland, is celebrating Mardi Gras with specials Feb. 27 to March 4. Look for special menu items created by Pioneer Tavern Group Corporate Chef Brian Jupiter. 5 bucks get you a 20-ounce Hurricane, a 20-ounce Hand Grenade, or a pints. $9 gets you flights of Abita (Purple Haze, Turbo Dog and Amber). 7 bucks gets Chicken Po-Boys and Jambalaya. On Fat Tuesday, March 4, Lottie's hosts a FREE Abita sampling on March 4 at 7 p.m.
  3. The Pony, 1638 W. Belmont, will celebrate with the same food and drink specials as Lottie's above. Plus their free Abita sampling will be on Fat Tuesday, March 4 at 8 p.m.
  4. Municipal Bar + Dining Company, 216 W. Ohio, offers Mardi Gras specials from Feb. 27 to March 4. $4 Millers and Coors drafts, $6 Hurricanes, $20 Hurricane fish bowls and New Orleans-inspired dishes created by Executive Chef Don Penza including beignet pastries, shrimp and sausage gumbo, and a squid Po'Boy. Live music from the Chicago Diamond Trio on Fat Tuesday, March 4 from 7 pm to 9 pm.
  5. Shaw's Crab House Chicago is running Mardi Gras specials from Feb. 28 to March 4. Cajun and Creole dishes like Crawfish Po'Boy ($17), Shrimp Po' Boy ($20), Blackened Redfish with Crawfish Sauce ($24) and more. Plus typical Mardi Gras cocktails like the Pat O'Brien Hurricane cocktail ($9) or Sazerac ($12). Live music in the Oyster Bar and Cajun-inspired additions to the usual Shaw's brunch. Call for details at 312.527.2722 (Chicago).
  6. Frontier, 1072 N. Milwaukee, offers a Fat Tuesday Shrimp Boil on Tuesday, March 4 at 7 p.m. For $33 per person you get the shrimp boil complete with potatoes and corn. Pioneer Tavern Group Corporate Chef Brian Jupiter, who was raised in New Orleans, cooks in the Southern comfort style using secret family recipes. $8 drink specials include Mardi Gras Gin Fizz, Hurricane, Sazerac, and Hand Grenade. Get tickets online.
  7. Newport Bar and Grill, 1344 W. Newport, features Fat Tuesday specials: $4 Abita Mardi Gras Bock, $4 Abita Purple Haze, and $3 Fireball shots. For food try the $5 jambalaya and $6 burger and fries. Enjoy Cajun, brass band and zydeco music. Get Abita Brewing Co. swag and Mardi Gras beads while supplies last.
  8. Polish and Pour, 1244 N. Wells, is featuring their recently released Brazil collection of coral and hot pink orange shades. Plus, (I love this part) drink while you get dabbed - Fat Tuesday drinks include $5 Select Bourbon cocktails, $4 Southern Comfort and $5 select glasses of wine. Deals include $17 spa manicure, $35 spa pedicure and special $40 Mani-Pedi Tuesday package (8 bucks off the regular price).
  9. Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, 1024 N. Rush St., starts the Mardi Gras party on March 4 and goes through March 10. Try their Shrimp Etouffee ($23.50 shrimp, andouille sausage, crawfish tails and rice smothered in a rich, brown sauce). And enjoy the French Quarter cocktail, the Grasshopper ($9 Smirnoff Vanilla vodka, RumChata, Crème de menthe and Crème de cocoa).
  10. LUXBAR, 18 East Bellevue Place, gets in the Mardi Gras spirit from March 4 to March 9 with corn meal-crusted shrimp served with spicy Creole sauce ($12). Chug their own version of the classic Hurricane ($12 - includes silver rum, dark rum, fresh orange juice, passion fruit puree, fresh lime juice and simple syrup).

And during this same party time come the 86th Academy Awards. Watch them on March 2 at Troquet Ravenswood, a cozy, French neighborhood bar by LM I wish was in my neighborhood (see my earlier review). Can you believe these fancy drinks for just $6? What a way to indulge.

  • The Oscar: Vodka, Crème de cacao, coffee liqueur, gold flakes and a splash of champagne
  • American Hustler: Peach infused vodka and Triple Sec topped with Champagne
  • For Her: Tequila, Triple Sec, Cranberry Juice and a splash of Lime
  • The Wolf of Wolcott: Whiskey, Amaretto, Lemon Juice and a Sugar Cube
  • The Dallas Drinkers Club: Tequila, Orange Juice and a Sugar Cube
  • Somali Captain: Lieutenant Dan Spiced Rum, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice and Grenadine.

Oh, and if you have dinner there that day, you'll get a chance to predict your Oscar winners. The diner with the most correct picks wins a $20 gift certificate to use on your next visit to Troquet Ravenswood.

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