It’s not only the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most delicious, and definitely the most TURNT (if you’re doing it right).
We decided to compile a list of the most essential Mardi Gras eats and drinks in order to make sure your carnival season is filled with all of the fried chicken, king cake, and daiquiris you can handle. Don’t worry, you have Lent to make up for all the terrible (but wonderful) decisions you’ll make with no regrets, so let’s make it count, people.
Popeyes, whaddup. You can’t survive Mardi Gras without it, this is a key to success. We want the biscuit, the fries, the mashed potatoes, the red beans, we want it all. Walking in to Popeyes at 10 am is practically a Mardi Gras tradition. Expect it to be set-up along tailgates up and down the neutral ground, in the mouths of small children and college students passed out on the curb with a beer in their other hand.
Mardi Gras without Popeyes is like Thanksgiving without Turkey: it’s just weird and utterly disappointing. Now don’t get us wrong, we love our spicy strips on just a regular old day, but during Mardi Gras season, you just gotta stay true to Nola roots: on-the-bone and spicy. Hail to King Al Copeland.
If you have a Mardi Gras party and you don’t have a King Cake, did you really have a Mardi Gras party? The answer to that question should be an obvious “no.”
You can tell a good amount about someone from their choice in king cake. There are Pplenty of options to choose from just in NOLA alone: Randazzo’s, Sucre, Rouses, Whole Foods, La Boulangerie, District Donuts, Winn-Dixie, and Haydel Bakery are just some of the most popular of an insanely large selection. The most important thing to remember is that it matters where you get your king cake.
Honestly, who doesn’t love deliciously fresh, cinnamon-sugar bread, baked fresh to perfection, with heavenly purple, green, and gold icing on top? All just to shovel into your mouth between drinks (king cake calories don’t count).
On the Route Eats
Screw catching beads, you’re trying to flag down the guy selling food out of a grocery cart. There are three options from these guys: cotton candy, candy apples, and peanuts. (Don’t get caught in a sticky situation, pack the Purell.)
All solid choices, but if you’re feeling like the grocery cart goodies aren’t good enough, start looking for the Domino’s man. He’s got the classics in his portable oven: cheese and pepperoni, which may not be your first choice, but trust me, when it’s nine at night and you’ve been out since the first parade started rolling, nothing will taste better.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re all about the grocery cart treats, but Moon Pies and Zapps chips are the ultimate Mardi Gras catch, and you don’t have to pay a dime for these snacks. It’s grub time as soon as the floats begin rolling. Everyone around you is trying to catch beads, but you’re going for the gold with no shame, ripping moon pies out of the hands of small children.
After all, the best catch is the one you can eat.
The Classics (Red Beans, Gumbo, and Jambalaya)
Your typical Mardi Gras house party will have 1 out of 3: red beans, gumbo, or jambalaya (but don’t lower your standards, a true NOLA party will have all three). Every house up and down the route during Mardi Gras has their specialty, each unique and delicious, but it’s guaranteed that everyone will have something delicious that tastes like home.
All three of these dishes are pretty hearty, which is probably why New Orleanians are such fans. Red beans have the heartiness to satisfy any hunger you might have and keeps you full and focused for the upcoming festivities. Gumbo, best for a cold day along the route, most commonly comes in two styles. Chicken and sausage gumbo has everything in it to fill you up, but seafood gumbo satisfies all of those usual Louisiana cravings, and has amazing flavor.
Finally, you can’t go wrong when it comes to jambalaya. Jambalaya reigns king, mixing all of those amazing flavors you can’t resist, giving your taste buds everything they’ve been asking for. These New Orleans dishes are an absolute necessity for a proper Mardi Gras, and it wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without them.
Let it be known that crawfish is just as, if not more, important than King Cake. There is just no way to argue with that statement. Crawfish isn’t just a delicious meal, boiled and seasoned to perfection, with a wide variety of veggies just as scrumptious as the mud bugs themselves, but it’s also a great way to bring people together.
New Orleanians love a good party, in case you haven’t noticed, and there is no better way to bring us together than to cover a table in newspaper, dump a sack of freshly boiled crawfish on top, and keep the beer flowing. What’s better than sucking heads and pinching tails with the whole fam? In NOLA fashion, the spicier the better. While crawfish may be the main course, it’s worth noting the amazing sausage, garlic, mushrooms, corn, and potatoes that really make the boil amazing.
Pair a couple pounds of crawdaddies with a cold Abita and you’re doing Mardi Gras like a pro. If you’re a newbie, here’s a list of the best crawfish eateries around NOLA.
In case you had any question in why New Orleans is one of the best cities on the map, we’ve got one last reason for you: New Oreans Original Daiquiris. And the best part, you don’t even have to get out of your car. That’s right, here in New Orleans you can make your way over to the drive-thru window to purchase a delicious, creamy, perfectly mixed New Orleans Original daiquiri (add an extra shot if you really wanna do it the NOLA way). The hangover is worth it.
While you’re in the city of the originator of the daiquiri, it’s only fitting you drink one on the city’s biggest holiday. If you’re catching a parade Uptown, stop by Super Grill for the city’s best margaritas. Don’t make the mistake of missing out on a perfect opportunity to try one of these bad boys. There’s a million different flavors, so choosing can be hard. You can’t go wrong with a classic strawberry, but it’s worth getting your hands on “Mardi Gras Mash.” Go ahead and indulge, it’s what the season is all about. Cheers!
Lastly, remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So do your best to sprint the marathon.