Local Spots for Mardi Gras Eats and Drinks
Get in the Fat Tuesday spirit with Cajun fare, boozy specials, king cakes, live music and Big Easy-inspired cooking classes.
If you want to partake in Mardi Gras festivities, there are plenty of places in and around Arlington to feast on Cajun fare, booze it up with a Hurricane—that signature New Orleans drink made with rum and fruit juice—and indulge in the traditional king cake, a classic Mardi Gras dessert baked with a plastic baby hidden inside. (If you’re served the piece with the baby, you’ll have good luck!) Here are 13 spots to hit in the lead up to (and on) Fat Tuesday, March 1. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
The New Orleans-themed bakery and cafe is celebrating Mardi Gras with extended hours for dinner and drinks on March 1. From 4-7 p.m., there will be specials such as $5 Hurricanes, king cake daiquiris, plates of jambalaya, and discounted cups of chicken and smoked sausage gumbo. Additionally, you can listen to live music, featuring chef-owner David Guas’ son. Throwing your own party? Order a box of pralines ($12), king cakes ($45) and decorated sugar cookies ($3 each) to sweeten your soirée. Bayou also offers Mardi Gras in a box—complete with Hurricane drink mix, colorful beads, masks, a murder-mystery game and, of course, fresh king cake—for pick-up or delivery ($150). The order form for all Mardi Gras items is online and 48 hours’ notice is required. // 1515 N. Courthouse Road, Arlington (Courthouse)
The Best Buns locations in Shirlington and Tysons will have king cakes for pre-order ($29). The bakery’s brioche dough is filled with an almond and walnut mixture, glazed with royal icing and finished with purple, yellow and green sugars, which are the traditional colors of the festive season. Cake pick-up starts Feb. 25, and you’ll need to place your order with at least 24 hours’ notice. Order online or in-store until the end of February. // 4010 Campbell Ave., Arlington (Shirlington); 8051 Leesburg Pike, Tysons
A local go-to for mounds of spicy crawfish, the East Falls Church seafood restaurant will offer $5 Hurricanes and “mudbugs” (crawfish) by the pound (buy four pounds, get the fifth free) from Monday, Feb. 28 to Wednesday, March 2. Grab some free Mardi Gras beads and order one of the winter specials, such as Jambalaya pasta made with bacon, chicken and andouille sausage ($12.99), or the pan roast, a cream tomato stew with chicken, shrimp and rice ($16.99), to enjoy on the heated patio. // 2200 N. Westmoreland St., Arlington (East Falls Church)
The cooking school in Ballston Quarter (a Best of Arlington 2022 winner), has four Mardi Gras-themed classes. On Sunday, Feb. 27, learn how to make a Bayou brunch, including shrimp and grits, bread pudding with bourbon sauce, fried okra and Hurricane cocktails to drink. Later that day, there’s a class focused on jambalaya. On March 1, there are two dinner classes: a jambalaya repeat and a Cajun-themed Taco Tuesday class featuring blackened chicken tacos, fish street tacos with mango salsa and an orange margarita. Sign up here. All classes are $85. // 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Ballston)
Revelers will find Mardi Gras food and drink specials, music, trivia and plenty of colorful beads on Fat Tuesday at Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church City. Head over for fresh Hurricanes and Sazerac cocktails, plus a spread of Cajun specialties including jambalaya ($18), shrimp and grits ($21) and po’boy sandwiches ($14). Additionally, don’t miss the raw bar featuring oysters, spiced shrimp, steamed clams and mussels. // 132 W. Broad St., Falls Church City
The veteran-owned family business in Ballston has created three specialty doughnuts for Fat Tuesday. From Feb. 25 to March 1, you can order a fried king cake doughnut with a spiced pear glaze; a colorful mask doughnut; or an adults-only Hurricane doughnut flavored with passion fruit and rum. Specialty doughnuts are $3.50 each. // 672 N. Glebe Road, Arlington (Ballston)
The Arlington bakery is taking orders for festive king cakes ($13.95), as well as cupcakes, traditional cakes and butter cookies finished with purple, yellow and green sugar sprinkles until March 1. You can also order Berliners (jelly doughnuts), a pre-Lenten treat that’s popular in Europe, stuffed with either raspberry or apricot jam ($8.40 for half a dozen). // 2150 N. Culpeper St., Arlington
Get ready to get dirty. Dig into crawfish, crabs, mussels, clams and shrimp—heads on or off—by the pound at the Falls Church outpost of this seafood chain. Add other Bayou favorites, such as etouffee ($12), andouille sausage ($5.25-$8.25) and giant po’boy sandwiches loaded with fried catfish, shrimp, crawfish, chicken or soft shell crab ($12-$15). The Falls Church location is offering $6 Margarita specials—available in watermelon, pomegranate, mango and other flavors—for Fat Tuesday. Hot N Juicy doesn’t offer reservations and gets busy on the weekends and holidays, so add your name to the online wait list in advance. // 116 W. Broad St., Falls Church City
Located in the Willston Centre shopping plaza on Route 50, Live Crawfish & Seafood boasts daily deliveries of oysters, crawfish and crabs, along with other fresh fish and shellfish. The tiny, bustling restaurant also offers several variations of Louisiana po’boys, made on fresh French bread, including fried clams, shrimp and oyster, catfish and soft shell crab (prices start at $10.99), as well as boiled shrimp and snow crab. The Falls Church location opened in 2013 and is now the flagship of a regional chainlet, with four other restaurants in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. // 6168 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church
You can expect an all-out Mardi Gras celebration from this Vintage Restaurant Group spot. Order New Orleans classics such as jambalaya ($16) and a shrimp po’boy ($14), or enjoy a raw bar with crab legs, oysters and peel-and-eat shrimp. Dining in-house on March 1? You’ll be treated to live music from the Rogue Johnsen Quartet from 7 to 11 p.m. // 1345 N. Courthouse Road, Arlington (Courthouse)
RT’s, a Cajun restaurant in Arlandria, goes over-the-top for Mardi Gras. The eatery decks out in purple, green and gold decorations, and offers food and drink specials starting on Valentine’s Day. Try signature plates such as creole alligator stew with sherry ($6.95 for a cup), crawfish etouffée ($21.95), crawfish-and-shrimp beignets ($11.95), and “Death by Gumbo,” which is loaded with shrimp, oysters, lump crab, crawfish and andouille sausage ($25.95). A sampler of baked oysters features three variations: Bienville, topped with mushroom cream, bacon, ham and crab; classic Rockefeller, with spinach, bacon and Hollandaise sauce; and Uggie, topped with bacon, garlic and parmesan ($18.95). If you want to dine in on March 1, reservations are recommended. // 3804 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria
Celebrate Mardi Gras at this neighborhood watering hole with festive holiday drinks such as Pat O’Brien’s Cyclone citrus cocktail, and Louisiana-based Abita beer, plus food specials such as jambalaya, po’boys, raw oysters and fried okra. Don’t forget, Tuesday Night Trivia will start at 7:30 p.m. // 1836 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Courthouse)
Cajun food will be served all day at William Jeffrey’s Tavern on Columbia Pike; plus catch the live stream of Bourbon Street in New Orleans on the bar’s giant TVs and enjoy live tunes from blues band The Curbfeelers from 7-10 p.m. // 2301 Columbia Pike, Arlington (Columbia Pike)