Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler: Mardi Gras in Los Angeles – 2021 Quarantine Edition

New Orleans Gumbo. Photo by Elise Thompson.

Yes, everything is canceled, but you can still enjoy Mardi Gras in Los Angeles. Here are our recommendations so you can get your Ya Yas out!

THE ORIGINAL FARMER’S MARKET

Unfortunately, like everything else, the annual Mardi Gras event at Original Farmer’s Market is canceled this year. But the outdoor market is fairly safe, and luckily, The Gumbo Pot is once again up and running. The Cajun take-out stand will be offering the “Le Grande Mardi Gras Family Feast” and “Le Petite Mardi Gras Family Feast” — available to serve 4-6 ($65) or 2-4 ($40), featuring classics like jambalaya, seafood gumbo, cornbread and more.

Bar 326 will be offering New Orleans’ craft brews like Abita Amber and Purple Haze for $5 each, or as a four-pack for $18.

You can pick up a traditional King Cake at Michelina Artisan Boulanger. This French bakery will also be stocked with traditional King Galettes, a French take on a classic NOLA holiday treat.  The almond-filled cakes are also available for home delivery on Mercato for $49 for a 10-inch cake or $9 by the slice.

The Dog Bakery will be offering 15% off all Mardi Gras-themed items, including collars and dog toys, plus special Mutti Gras cookies in purple, green and yellow! Any pet that visits The Dog Bakery in costume on Fat Tuesday (2/16) will receive a free mini-pack of Mutti Gras cookies.

THE FOWLER MUSEUM: GLOBAL COOKING WITH HAROLD AND BELLE’S

Join the Fowler and Ryan Legaux, owner and chef of Harold & Belle’s, on Zoom for a free cooking lesson. It will happen on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, from 5  – 6 p.m.  Celebrate Fat Tuesday and learn how to make jambalaya, the ultimate Creole dish. An ingredient list will be included with your confirmation email immediately upon RSVP. Come with supplies prepared and ready to cook! RSVP HERE.

LAKE CHARLES VIRTUAL CARNIVAL

Lakes Charles, Louisiana, just north of New Orleans, is offering a Virtual Carnival, which includes a Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu virtual tour featuring gorgeous Mardi Gras costumes of ages past and an adorable Shoebox Float Contest. You can vote for the best little shoebox float until February 15, with the winner announced on February 16. You can also enjoy music all day from the Krewe of KBYS. There are instructions for making your own shoebox float and plenty of recipes to make your own Louisiana favorites.

DOGGIE GRAS

Dressing dogs up for Mardi Gras has become a strange but wonderful tradition. There are usually adorable parades, but this year it has been taken online. Check out the gallery of entries at the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter where there is still time to enter your own good boy or girl. There is a $10 fee for entries, which benefits the shelter.

Watch the cavalcade of festive pets and the exciting selection of a $500 grand prize winner at the Purina Pet Parade. Note that it says “pet,” so you can also dress up your cat, turtle, or cockatoo. Purina is partnering with the Soulard Mardi Gras in St. Louis, Missouri, and donating $1 to Open Door Animal Sanctuary for every vote cast. On February 16, the parade will stream on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. on Fat Tuesday, where “celebrity judges” will select the winner from among the finalists.

WHERE TO ORDER TAKE-OUT

Black Bottom Southern Kitchen – North Hollywood

The menu at Black Bottom offers a little bit of everything. Kitchen smoked ribs, shrimp and grits, and their own gumbo are all perfect representations of their regions. For Mardi Gras, they are offering a special menu for curbside pickup that includes a crawfish boil, jambalaya, Cajun shrimp, muffuletta sandwiches, red beans and rice, beignets, and of course their own fantastic gumbo. The prices are surprisingly reasonable, especially for seafood. You can also enjoy their nonalcoholic Hurricane Mocktails and Mardi Gras Madness Punch, or make your own cocktails at home with the recipes they have kindly provided (I bet you could also add a little rum to their mocktails). Available through February 27, 2021. (Door Dash is saying they are closed Tuesday, but they are most certainly open and Postmates is delivering, or you can get curbside pick-up.)

Georgia’s – Long Beach and Anaheim

As our own Christy Kane put it, “Georgia’s “Southern-inspired comfort food has enjoyed a loyal following in the Anaheim Packing District and Long Beach Exchange. The businesses have been “a labor of love for Gretchen “The Hugger” Shoemaker and her family, whom everyone calls Nana Gretchen. The menu is full of standard soul food fare, executed flawlessly.” Georgia’s Restaurant at the Anaheim Packing House and the Long Beach Exchange will be open on Mardi Gras, Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 for outdoor dining, takeout and delivery from 11:30 am to 8:00 pm. Every day is Mardi Gras at Georgia’s two locations, so sip a Bourbon Street cocktail such as the Hurricane for Two ($15) crafted with rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine. Enjoy “Nana” Gretchen’s Jambalaya, Po” Boys, Fried Catfish or Red Beans and Rice, featured on their regular menu.

Harold & Belle’s – Jefferson Park

If Los Angeles had a Galatoire’s, it would have to be Harold and Belle’s. The Creole restaurant is still run with pride by the third generation of the Legaux family. Tuesday they are offering the Mardi Gras Combo special to feed the whole family. It includes a Large Gumbo, eight pieces of Fried Chicken, ten Fried Catfish Strips, Jambalaya, a Large Red Beans & Rice, and a Large Potato Salad. You can order off of the regular menu. I recommend the Catfish Nuggets, Po’ Boys, Shrimp & Crawfish É’toffée, Vegetarian Okra Gumbo, or their famous Filé Gumbo made with a Dark roux, ground sassafras, shrimp, sausage, ham, blue crab, and chicken.

Little Jewel of New Orleans – Chinatown

Marcus Christiana-Beniger and Eunah Kang opened this little market and restaurant in Chinatown in 2014, and it was a game-changer. You order at a little window, just like the Hurricane shops on Bourbon Street. Little Jewel offers a huge variety of po’boys and muffulettas, as well as daily specials like duck and andouille gumbo served over jambalaya (“Gumbolaya”). The real draw for us is the Irish Channel roast beef po’boy composed almost entirely of debris and served on Leidenheimer bread from New Orleans. What is debris? When you cook a roast, there are bits of meat left in the bottom of the pan with the drippings. That is debris. In restaurants like Mother’s, you can order a roast beef po’boy topped with debris, but even in The Big Easy, we have never seen a po’boy like this. They also serve fries with debris and gravy, known in some places as “Boo Fries.” Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, when the special is “Chef’s Choice.” I wonder what special delicacy they will be conjuring up.

Mardi Gras Tuesday – Sherman Oaks

The New Kid on the block, Mardi Gras Tuesday, opened April 14th of last year after two years of construction. The two brothers-in-law running it did not let Covid stop them, so they focused on takeout and delivery. (Fun fact: No diner has ever eaten in the restaurant!) Keith Adams, who hails from Dallas, runs the place with his brother-in-law Eric Laneuville from Pontchartrain, and you just can’t get more Louisiana street cred than that. They are both in the entertainment business as well. Keith, who has 30 years in the restaurant business, wears many hats, working as the General Manager, Chef, and Bartender (I did not ask about bottle washer). Keith creates the recipes and menus. And the menus are awesome. Not only can you get the usual suspects like gumbo, po’boys, jambalaya, and É’toffée, but they have my favorites – fried catfish and chargrilled oysters, a New Orleans delicacy. There are also family-sized platters. For Mardi Gras, they will be offering a crawfish boil, and if it’s safe they will have live music on the patio, plus all the fun stuff like beads and masks.

New Orleans Sweet Treats – Manchester Square

New Orleans Sweet Treats has been baking King Cakes, Louisiana Smash Cakes, pralines, and other Creole treats for Angelenos since 2006. The family of owners  Cynthia and Kimberly hail from New Orleans. So their mother didn’t have to have her favorite cakes shipped all the way from Louisiana, the two sisters learned to make King Cake for their mom, and a business was born. This home-based, family-run business bakes every cake fresh to order. Each King Cake is festooned in Mardi Gras beads and decorated in purple for “justice,” green for “faith,” and gold for “power.”  To order and arrange for pickup or delivery, call 323.759.7188.

Orleans and York – Multiple Locations

Orleans and York, as the name suggests, is making an effort to cover two of the most food-focused sandwich cities in America. Owner Sami Othman was something of a deli prodigy, working at his family’s New York sandwich shop at the age of ten, then opening up his own deli in 1977 at only 16. In 2013 he opened Orleans & York Delis in Inglewood, Baldwin Hills, and Downtown L.A., soon followed by locations in Carson and on Slauson in the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood. I cannot attest to the authenticity of the New York subs, because I’m all about the po’boys. When I took my first bite of their shrimp po’boy, I honestly felt like all of the other sandwiches might as well just give up and go home. You can even order additional shrimp or oysters —  not that you need to. They will grill your shrimp instead of frying it upon request, and serve it in a nice mayonnaise-hot sauce. They offer five different muffulettas and even have a po’boy based on gumbo ingredients. With the wall of Zapp’s Potato Chips and desserts like Banana Pudding and Red Velvet Cake, the Southern culture does seem to overshadow the New York heroes.

Rajin’ Cajun Cafe – Redondo Beach

Rajin’ Cajun Cafe has moved around a bit, from Pier Avenue to a short stint at Suzy’s Bar. We were pleased when they settled down and put down roots on Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach, Although it is under new ownership, the same recipes and fresh ingredients are used, there is a full bar, and the vibe is even better. The large space is decorated with folk art and the usual Mardi Gras beads. Their knack for perfectly fried seafood keeps us coming back. Their catfish and alligator bites are worth the visit alone. The po’boys stuffed with fried seafood never disappoint. The red beans and rice are noteworthy, as is the “gumbolaya,” and I practically fetishize their Bayou Bisque. For Mardi Gras, they are presenting seafood boils with lobster, crab, shrimp, and crawfish. Their bar offers the classic New Orleans Hurricane, as well as the lesser-known Bourbon Street Hand Grenade. If you want to get crazy, you can order a smoking drink in a skull glass with names like Reaper and “Blue Voodoo.” While Rajin’ Cajun Cafe offers takeout and delivery, they also have tents in the parking lot if you would rather dine outdoors.

Sal’s Gumbo Shack – Long Beach

This little corner diner on Long Beach Boulevard is owned by Sally Lewis and staffed by friends and family. They serve one of the best shrimp po’boys in town, and a dark, rich gumbo with sausage and crab legs. Not only do they have spicy, buttery BBQ shrimp like Pascal’s Manale in the Garden District, they even serve Acme’s Boo Fries. The skin-on fries are covered with cheese, gravy, and roast beef debris. The only question is, why isn’t everyone making Boo Fries? They are also offering shrimp and crab boils. Open for takeout, curbside service, and delivery through Postmates.

The Snoball Shop – Slauson in Los Angeles

The Snoball Shop is conveniently located on the same corner as Orleans and York Deli. As far as I know, it is the only place to get an authentic snoball in LA. A snoball is grated ice that is doused with syrup. It looks like a snow cone, but instead of hard grainy chunks, the ice is shaved into flurries as light as air. It’s more similar to  Hawaiian shaved ice than a snow cone. There are lots of fruit and dessert flavors. There is one flavor particular to snoballs called nectar. People are only able to describe it to me as “sweet.” The red syrup kind of reminds me of cream soda. You can also order the snoball topped with sweetened condensed milk, like they do in Louisiana.

Stevie’s Creole Cafe – Faircrest Heights

(Written by Monique A. LeBleu.) As a Louisiana transplant of nearly 50 years, it was both thrilling and embarrassing to discover that the best place for Gumbo this side of the Sabine River had been in L.A. during much of that time. The cafe’s paper menu will tell you that child actor and restaurant owner Stephen Perry opened his first restaurant in 1986 out of a passion for cooking, and that this is the second incarnation of his restaurant that has a colorful, long list of celebrities who frequent it. Stevie’s World Famous Seafood Gumbo lives up to its name. Both a stew and a soup, the art of a good Gumbo is in its rich roux, along with a trinity of seasoning vegetables. With it, the same tender shrimp, along with cut crab leg, chicken, sausage, and a pinch of filé, making this Gumbo the most authentic and worthy of the very top of your bucket list. The Peach Beignets couple their crisp, puff pastry version of the donut with a fresh peach compote that will simply just curl the toes. Some of the cafe’s additional classic New Orleans-style Creole southern fare also includes fried catfish, jambalaya, chicken with rice and gravy, assorted etouffees, and po’boys, with additional desserts like Sweet Potato Pie, Banana Pudding, Vanilla Pudding, and their signature Peach Cobbler of that same singular compote.

NEW ORLEANS MOVIES TO WATCH on Amazon Prime

Angel Heart

The Big Easy

Buckjumping

Deja Vu

Double Jeopardy

Girl’s Trip

King Creole

A Little Bit of Heaven

The Princess and the Frog

Skeleton Key

Undercover Blues

VIDEOS

The Krewe of House Floats

Dr. John, The Meters, and Professor Longhair

The history of the Mardi Gras Indians

National Geographic: Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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