Long Islanders celebrating Mardi Gras need not travel to New Orleans to join in Louisiana’s epic annual Fat Tuesday festivities because local Cajun-style restaurants and bars also host events marking the occasion.
Try as they may, few establishments on LI are bound to throw parties as lively or serve food as authentic as these Cajun joints that have menus featuring crawfish, alligator and of course, jambalaya.
This year, the party starts on Feb. 28, regardless of whether revelers plan on participating in the Christian observance of Lent that starts the following day.
Louisiana Joe’s Sandwich Shop
488 Merrick Rd., Oceanside. 516-442-9838. louisianajoes.com
Serving breakfast and lunch dishes both inspired by Cajun and Italian favorites, co-owners of Louisiana Joe’s Sandwich Shop Terri Hanna and Joseph LoSchiavo demonstrate their passion for the taste of New Orleans. They are known for exceptional Po’boy sandwiches (made on heros and filled with anything from corneal crusted fried shrimp to braised beef), gumbo omelet with andouille sausage, Cajun boudin (traditional smoked sausage with rice), and an incredible muffuletta (a nod to LoSchiavo’s Italian roots) which is a sandwich stuffed with cold cuts, cheese, and olive salad. And any of the exceptional sandwiches served comes with a free dessert or side on Mardi Gras.
153 Merrick Ave., Merrick. 516-378-7177. rsjones.com
Voted the Best Soul/Southern food on Long Island for 2017, R.S. Jones is known for its gator-andouille-black bean chili, crawfish remoulade, warm cornbread, Mama Pajamas Pork (slow roasted with cabernet orlean gravy), sweet bourbon catfish, bananas foster, and of course, king cake. In honor of Mardi Gras, the restaurant is also hosting a party with live music, face painting and specials.
553 Old Montauk Hwy., Sayville. 631-563-4144. blackbirdsgrille.com
With French Quarter grade gumbo, jumbalaya aplenty and a homey atmosphere, Blackbird’s Grill is upping their normal game with a special Mardi Gras menu including shrimp n’ grits, buttermilk fried chicken, double cut pork chops with caramelized apples, and much more. This menu also includes specialty cocktails.
Big Daddy’s Restaurant
1 Park Ln., Massapequa. 516-799-8877. bigdaddysny.com
This place takes Fat Tuesday so seriously it holds a “Mardi Gras Madness Week” celebration featuring seven nights of live music and specials, culminating in a massive feast featuring a full buffet, music and costumes. With a welcoming feel, festive atmosphere and a large menu changing daily full of Cajun comfort food, Big Daddy’s is known as the go to place for a Cajun Creole Fix. Big Daddy’s offers a variety of Cajun specialties, from seafood dishes such as Motor Mouth Stuffed Shrimp and Jambalaya to Vieux Carre Pork and Waffles and BBQ Beef Po’Boy. Patrons be warned: This restaurant goes full-on Cajun with the spices.
2823 Jerusalem Ave., Bellmore. 516-785-9263. bayou4bigfun.com
The week-long Mardis Gras party continues with Cajun eats and live music at this lively eatery with great ambiance. A go-to for the right atmosphere to “get you in the Mardi-Gras mood,” this small and quirky restaurant serves strong drinks and has a lively bar scene, catering to a less child-oriented crowd. With creative food/drink presentation and an authentic feel, this is among the most festive places to celebrate.
Storyville American Table Restaurant
43 Green St., Huntington. 631-351-3446. storyvilleamericantable.com
Storyville is also hosting pre-“Mardi Gras Madness” celebrations culminating with a big celebration on the day itself. With an authentic and sophisticated feel, Storyville American Table Restaurant gives a true Louisiana experience. Committed to fresh food, this eatery boasts homemade pickles, authentic house sauces and house-ground meat for their burgers. This lively spot caters to all tastes with a large varied menu and is great for a night out. Dishes not to miss include the gumbo, beignets, catfish and mussels.
Treme Blues and Jazz Club
553 Main St., Islip. 631-277-2008. tremeislip.com
One of the few intimate upscale live music venues of its kind on LI, named for the French Quarter neighborhood where jazz was born, this Blues bar is normally open Thursday through Sunday—except for their epic annual Fat Tuesday party. Headlining this year’s show is the Gulf Coast-inspired Dave Clive’s Nawlins Funk Band. Although the club is more known for their music than their food, specials on cocktails, Gumbo and Mardis Gras King Cake are among the mouthwatering items on their menu that includes small plates and desserts. There will be beads!
Biscuits and Barbeque
106 East 2nd St., Mineola. 516-493-9797. biscuitsandbarbecue.com
The weekend-long Mardis Gras festivities at this diner-style eatery consist of specials on Crawfish Pie, Alligator Ribs, Louisiana Smothered Shrimp, Gator Sausage and Mardis Gras King Cake, plus too many more to list here. A casual joint housed in a converted trailer, this neighborhood haunt is a cosy spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner in a lively atmosphere. Dishes not to miss include the biscuits and gravy (but be warned, get this to share—it is huge), the brisket, the mac n cheese and the shrimp po’boy.
236 West Jericho Tpke., Syosset. 516-682-9200. marashomemade.com
Mara’s is a Cajun barbeque joint great for casual eats, with must-have dishes including the crawfish-stuffed baguette, lobster, gator bites (yes alligator!) and the andouille crusted tilapia. The owner herself often comes to check in on patrons, contributing to the hospitable atmosphere. Don’t forget to save room for their famous bluegrass pie, homemade beignets and fresh seasonal fruit pies as a delicious way to have an authentic Mardi Gras experience. Specials and beads are on tap for the big day!
Nawlins Seafood Co.
301 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport. nawlinsseafood.com
So, this place won’t give the Nautical Mile a taste of The Big Easy until they reopen for this spring. But, their sister restaurant, Rachel’s Waterside Grill, will host a Mardis Gras party featuring samples of the Nawlins Seafood Co.’s menu, including gumbo, jambalaya, catfish, hurricanes and more.
Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!
–Compiled by Ellie Schoeffel