New Orleans throws down like no other during Carnival Time. Beads fly through the air, some landing on trees others into the hands of lucky partygoers shouting "Ayy Mardi Gras!" Glasses are tipped back and daiquiris are sipped. Taste buds are greeted with the flavorful local delicacies of Jambalaya, Red Beans, and the all festive King Cake. I have FOMO already, is it too late to buy a plane ticket? 

As a gal with a rich New Orleans heritage, I couldn't help but wonder where in Harrisonburg I can find some festive food, drank, and celebration for Mardi Gras besides the King Cake my dad sends me. The parades are irreplaceable, but as a town with a variety of culinary options, I didn't have to look too far in Harrisonburg to find an Abita.

Lucky for us Dukes, the wait won't be hours long to eat or use the bathroom. Let us take advantage of the little bit of New Orleans culture nestled in our small VA town, and let the good times roll this carnival season.

1. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

fish, chicken
Hannah Rote

Louisiana fast. It would be sinful to skimp out on a box of fried chicken, red beans and rice, and Cajun fries. Popeyes is to Mardi Gras as purple and gold is to JMU.

2. The Golden Pony 

If you're in the 21 plus club and looking for booze plans, The Golden Pony knows what's up. On February 24th and 25th, they will host two DJ events to celebrate the festival of getting in as much drank and food as possible before Lenten fasts commence on Wednesday. Grab some beads and a mask. Also, your ID.

3. Abita Beer Vendors

Born and brewed in Louisiana, Abita beer gives me major feels for New Orleans with every swig. If you're an Abita virgin, Purple Haze is a good tap to start with. Cheers.

Here are three of the 10 restaurants in Harriosnburg that sell Abita: 

Capital Ale House: Combine it with the chicken, shrimp, and andouille pasta. Rely on every sip to quench your thirst once the spice of the andouille kicks in. 

Billy Jacks Wing and Draft Shack (obviously): Pair it with any or all of the sliders, not because they're Mardi Gras related, but just because they're dang good. 

Macado's: An Abita paired with the Big City Jazz sandwich will have you feeling like you're walking the streets of a city that vibes with the unpredictable beat of a jazz riff. 

4. Jimmy Madison's 

A whiskey bar where you can down a few in honor of Carnival Time, Jimmy Madison's is home to a few Cajun delicacies that will have you satisfied before a day, night, or weekend of celebration.

Hush Puppies are fried balls of cornmeal found on the lunch appetizer menu served with creole mustard and spiced honey. Just know that one will probably amount to you eating like four more. For dinner, treat yourself to a little Low Country jambalaya. Get in the spirit with this classic Hank Williams song that captures the spirit of New Orleans cuisine and the Cajun culture verse after verse.

Side dish or main meal, the Red Beans and Rice is a classic. Not just Mardi Gras appropriate, but year-round delicious.

5. Ruby's Arcade 

Bowling, bingo, and beer. No better way to celebrate Mardi Gras in Harrisonburg, honestly. On Tuesday, February 28th, Ruby's Arcade hosts a free to play Bingo night.

In honor of the Krewe of Orpheus that passes through the crowded streets of New Orleans on Monday the 27th, you must order the wood-fired Orpheus pizza. It's topped with pesto, artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes, Parmesan, pickled fennel, and mozzarella. Not very Cajun, yet I respect the name.

What this list lacks is King Cake, but lucky for us, you can make your own that'll have you on a sugar high. Share your baking results with Spoon JMU on Instagram using the hashtag #spoonjmu and tag us @spoon_jmu. Happy Mardi Gras to all.