Mardi Gras is almost here. And as they say in New Orleans, it’s a time to “laissez les bon temps rouler” for a night of eating, drinking, and cheer. Fat Tuesday falls on February 13 this year (yes, that’s the day before Valentine’s Day) and D.C. is always down for an excuse to party. So break out the beads and make a plan for a day of Louisiana-inspired cocktails, food, and music.

No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a traditional king cake. The colorful and sweet cake is the favorite dessert for the occasion–just watch out for the small toy baby baked inside. Finding it in your slice is said to be good luck.

A number of area bakeries have king cakes available for order, including at Sticky Fingers (1370 Park Rd. NW) in Columbia Heights for $20. Italian market Centrolina (974 Palmer Alley. NW) is creating a version with a cocoa-almond cream filling and a cream cheese frosting.  They’re $36 each and feed eight to ten people (48 hour notice required, or walk up on Monday or Tuesday and try to snag some of the limited inventory. If a whole cake seems too much, Buzz Bakeshop (818 N. Quincy St., Alexandria) will have king cake brioche doughnuts for purchase.

Don’t miss out on a king cake. (Photo by Sticky Fingers)

With the cake taken care of, you can settle in for a cocktail and some Cajun eats. Black Jack (1612 14th St. NW) is hosting events all weekend, including a bottomless “Bayou Brunch” on Sunday for $65 per person. Come on Tuesday starting at 5 p.m. for live music, happy hour specials, and shareable punches for $25. That’s in addition to $3.50 Abita beers, $8 Hurricanes, and classic dishes like shrimp and crawfish fritters and muffaletta sandwiches.

Cocktail and Beads_Photo Cred Daniel Swartz
Cocktails and decorations at Black Jack. (Photo by Dan Swartz)

If you’re looking for a larger celebration, spend the evening at The Wharf (7th St. and Maine Ave. SW). The still-new waterfront development is throwing a parade at 6 p.m. followed by a dance party and a fireworks display at approximately 7:50 p.m. Stick around the neighborhood for the free second-line concert and after party at Pearl Street Warehouse (33 Pearl St. SW).

Finally, there’s the second-annual Mardi Gras Extravaganza, happening at Union Market (1309 5th St. NE) from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. All-inclusive tickets are $65 and include cocktails and food from some New Orleans natives and D.C. best kitchen and bar talents. There will also be live music, dancing, and a costume contest.  As an added bonus, proceeds from the sales are benefiting local charity DC Central Kitchen.

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