Guys, let's be fair, 2016 was a hell of a year. And whether you celebrate Lent or not, it's probably a good idea for all of us to take a moment to repent and reflect. However, there's one thing you must do before the shame of last year sets in—the day before (Tuesday, February 28) is Mardi Gras and there's no need to hop on a plane to Louisiana. Our friends at Yelp Chicago have rounded up a list of places to get your fill of drinks, beads, Southern cooking, and more without leaving city limits.
There's a reason this spot has a full five-star average on Yelp, and if you haven't been to this neighborhood New Orleans gem in Rogers Park, Mardi Gras is the perfect time to try it. Chef Delisay Pharrow has been cooking this cuisine since she was little, and the heart and heat shows in every bite. The menu for Mardi Gras every year is apparently insane, so expect delicious Creole eats. 6621 N. Clark St., 872-806-0986
You've got to like a place that has Mardi Gras streamers hanging from the roof all-year-round, and hot sauce and Louisiana posters adorning its walls. It also means that when Mardi Gras rolls around, they're going to do it right. The restaurant will celebrate with live music on February 24-February 25 and of course, on Fat Tuesday, February 28. 111 N. Wabash Ave., 312-263-6443
Toast Mardi Gras with the aptly named Frontier Fat Tuesday Shrimp Boil. Set to the tune of The Four Star Brass Band, New Orleans' own chef Brian Jupiter will cook up shrimp, corn, potatoes, red beans, rice, shrimp poboys, and, of course, a king cake will be served with every meal. This baby sells out every year, so make sure to book early and come hungry (more information on thefrontierchicago.com). 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-772-4322
Need to get out of the Chicago cold? Step into Fifolet, which packs hot Louisiana vibes courtesy of Cajun food, and an atmosphere filled with beads and masks. According to legend, fifolet are legendary blue lights which float above the bayou in Louisiana. We can't guarantee mystical sights, but if you drink enough Sazeracs and Planters Punches, who knows what you might see? Just don’t leave here without trying the powdered beignets for dessert. 1942 W. Division St., 773-384-6886
Paczki may not have originated in NOLA, but the pre-Lenten tradition is alive and well in Chicago at Dinkel's, which only makes this sweet sometime around Fat Tuesday. Try their chocolate-covered paczki with custard filling—or their raspberry, lemon, cherry, and plum paczki. They usually have around 12 different varieties, but make sure to order ahead or you'll spend Fat Tuesday in an epically-long line. 3329 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-281-7300
If you’re in this celebration for the drinks, there’s nothing like a Sazerac or Hurricane from Big Jones. While the food, which is "inspired by the people, places, and history of the American south," is lick-your-fingers-good, the one-two-punch of New Orleans-staple cocktails can’t be beat. Big Jones is actually celebrating Mardi Gras through March 2 with New Orleans jazz and funk blasting from the speakers, so if you hear the music calling, don't resist following it in. 5347 N. Clark St., 773-275-5725
Alex Shebar is the Sr. Community Director for Yelp in Chicago. Helping businesses get the most out of the site is his passion. He also curates local events intended to spread positive word of mouth for the many local businesses that dot the Chicago culinary landscape. Follow @YelpChicago onInstagram,Twitter, and Facebook. And use the hashtag #YelpChicago when posting your food p0rn around the web.