Even if you don't observe it, you've probably heard of Fat Tuesday — also known as the start of Mardi Gras. It's part of the festive season before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent and is celebrated around the world. Of course, Fat Tuesday has taken on a life of its own in New Orleans.
However, there's no need to travel to the Big Easy, because the big Valley's got you covered. Check out our list of the best drink and food deals and celebrations surrounding March 5. From daiquiris to crawfish by the pound, it's all sure to put you in a partying mood.
Angry Crab Shack
2740 South Alma School Road, Mesa
The brand's east Mesa location is hosting a Fat Tuesday "party for a purpose" with all proceeds going to the Heart Strings Foundation, an organization providing guitars to veterans and actively serving military members and their families. The celebration goes from 4 to 11 p.m. and features a celebrity dunk tank, 50/50 raffle, and live music.
Baby Kay's Cajun Kitchen
2051 South Dobson Road, #18, Mesa
Hang out at Baby Kay's for the ultimate Fat Tuesday experience. Happy hour drinks are available all day long with happy hour food deals going from 2 to 6 p.m. There's also a crawfish and shrimp bowl starting at 5 p.m. along with the classic Mardi Gras sweet treat, king cake. Look out for fun giveaways and live music from noon until the end of the party. The restaurant is not taking reservations that day.
Creole Cajun Bistro
5070 South Gilbert Road, #400, Chandler
Head out to the Chandler eatery for their fourth annual parking lot party. From 3 to 10 p.m., enjoy live music, a crawfish boil, giveaways, and get your hands on some Mardi Gras beads and masks while supplies last. Chef Eric Rachal will be serving authentic Creole and Cajun dishes, and drinks will be flowing. There are no reservations for the event, so get there early to participate in all the fun.
Aptly named after the holiday, the restaurant chain even has a countdown to Mardi Gras on their website. At the Tempe location on Mill Avenue, party from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and enjoy traditional NOLA grub like gumbo, jambalaya, and po'boys. Don't forget the New Orleans daiquiri and hurricane drink special. There's also face-painting, two dance floors, a balloon artist, live music, DJs, and a bead throw every hour. The Fat Tuesday in Glendale at Westgate Entertainment District is hosting a similar celebration, with the addition of a caricaturist and burlesque dancers.
Harold's Cave Creek Corral
6895 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
The long-time Valley restaurant hosts an epic Mardi Gras party every year featuring with live jazz, dance lessons, and the Acoustic Kings at 8:30 p.m. That's also when the crawfish-eating contest starts, and don't forget about the $18.99 authentic Mardi Gras buffet filled with dishes like oysters, jambalaya, chicken gumbo, and more. Show off your best costume, body paint, and mask and see who gets the most beads. Call 480-488-1906 for reservations.
Hot N' Juicy
Step up to the plate (literally) and enter the crawfish-eating contest at both Valley locations (Tempe and Glendale) during Hot N' Juicy's annual Mardi Gras celebration. Prizes include gift cards for $50, $100, and $200 that can go toward your next visit. Thirsty participants and patrons can also enjoy a hurricane or beer as part of a two-drink dine-in special.
Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
2030 East Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe
The Southern barbecue joint already has Mardi Gras chicken on their menu — deep-fried chicken breasts topped with a creole cream sauce, andouille sausage, shrimp, and red and yellow peppers. You can also feast on Cajun specialties like Southern fried catfish and shrimp, bayou Cajun shrimp, New Orleans gumbo, and jambalaya "me-oh-my-a." The chain is also ringing in Fat Tuesday with four refreshing Southern libations — the Southern Hospitality, Crocodile Cooler, Voodoo Child, and Gin & Sin.
4717 East Bell Road
This neighborhood hangout is serving up its famous Sean's Rum Runner for $5 all day long. It's a tasty concoction of Bacardi, Rumchata, Meyers Dark Rum, pineapple and orange juice, and a splash of grenadine. A New Orleans-style bread pudding made from scratch is perfect for dessert and also $5.
From March 1 to 5, chow down on crawfish, shrimp tacos, and jambalaya while sipping on $5 hurricanes and downing $1 Jell-O shots. The Mexican grill recently opened its third location in Gilbert at the SanTan Village Shopping Center — just in time for Mardi Gras.
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300 West Camelback Road
Get your best purple, green, and gold outfits ready and laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll) at Southern Rail for their Mardi Gras celebration from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fat Tuesday favorites include king cake, made of a cinnamon brioche dough shaped into a hollow circle and glazed with icing and Mardi Gras-colored sugar sprinkles. All-day menu items include po’boys, Chef Justin Beckett’s signature jambalaya, classic New Orleans cocktails like monsoons and Sazeracs, red beans and rice, and beignets to soak up the booze. Reservations are encouraged.
West Alley BBQ & Smokehouse
111 West Boston Street, Chandler
The Tennessee-style barbecue joint is partnering with chef Jude Mouton for their Mardi Gras celebrations. Mouton grew up in New Orleans and specializes in southern-style, Louisiana-inspired food. He's also cooked for big names like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, and Prince. Mouton's created an authentic New Orleans-style lunch and dinner menu especially for Fat Tuesday, with items like maple-smoked, bacon-wrapped shrimp, blackened catfish topped with a Louisiana shrimp etouffee sauce, red beans with smoked sausage and rice, and New Orleans bananas Fosters. Guests can also order off the regular menu. Reservations are encouraged.