Tampa’s Gasparilla is filled with pirates, parties, and parades, but Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the ultimate celebration. Also known as Fat Tuesday, this festival is the last big blowout before Ash Wednesday, or Lent. Can’t make it to the Big Easy on the 13th? Enjoy all the fun and flavor of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday right here in the Tampa Bay area at these New Orleans-inspired events and restaurants.
Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday Events Around the Bay
This unique Mardi Gras event in Ybor City kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with a few words for the dearly but not-so-recently departed James E. Rooster. Then at 6:00 p.m., the fun really gets going with a New Orleans-style jazz Memorial Procession; it’s also known as the Rooster Funeral, but it’s really more like a parade. Afterward, a “wake” will be hosted in the form of a bar crawl from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. through participating bars and restaurants: The Dirty Shame, Tequilas, The Bad Monkey, and Big Easy Bar. Don't forget to dress to impress! Costumes with a Mardi Gras or chicken theme are encouraged as well as looks with flowers and cowbells.
Bourbon Street meets Main Street in Dunedin during their annual Mardi Gras Parade and Festival. New Orleans-inspired music will begin playing at the beautiful Park Pavillion at 1:00 PM until the parade, which runs from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. With over 50 unique and colorful floats tossing a ton of beads, you’ll feel like you're in the Big Easy! The party continues in the park until 10:00 p.m. and spills over to local pubs and restaurants until closing time.
3 Daughters Brewing is celebrating Fat Tuesday with their 5th Annual Crawfish Boil at their St. Petersburg warehouse from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Enjoy all-you-can-eat crawfish with all the fixings including andouille sausage, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, and king cake for dessert. As if this Cajun spread wasn’t enough, there will also be live music performed by the Brown Bag Brass Band to get you in the Mardi Gras spirit. Tickets are $25 each and include two drink tickets that apply to any beer, cider, or non-alcoholic drink. This event always sells out quick, so get your tickets now!
Go-To Restaurants for Mardis Gras/Fat Tuesday
Start your Mardi Gras celebration in the morning at Another Broken Egg Cafe, a Louisiana-based chain, at either location in South Tampa and Clearwater. The cafe puts a twist on New Orleans’ famous beignets with their sugar-coated biscuit beignets and honey marmalade. They also have flavorful, creamy shrimp and grits, a delicacy in the Deep South. Pair your breakfast with one of their cocktails like their Lady Marmalade Mimosa.
Big Easy Bar brings Mardis Gras and Fat Tuesday to Ybor City every day with its fun atmosphere and Creole fare like their blackened shrimp Po’ boy, sauteed jambalaya, and New Orleans-style Cuban (a muffuletta sandwich on a baguette). Jazz up Fat Tuesday by grabbing dinner and drinks at the Big Easy [Bar]!
Roux is the next best thing to the French Quarter with its elegant, old-world ambiance and New Orleans-inspired menu. A part of the nnovative Datz restaurant family, Roux’s signature “Creole Nouvelle” cuisine blends rural Cajun, sophisticated Creole, and classic Southern tastes. Try their Cajun Trio with crawfish etouffee, seafood gumbo, and jambalaya to sample the best of New Orleans cooking. Roux’s Cajun Mule, which is just one of their many craft cocktails, is a classic with a special Louisiana twist.
Make your Fat Tuesday dinner plans at Roux this year between 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and enjoy live music as well as incredible food and drinks specials. It’ll especially be a treat for blues lovers as The Betty Fox Band will be playing, and there will also be a live broadcast by Ian Beckles of 102.5 The Bone. Roux’s kitchen will be serving up their usual fantastic fare as well as $1 oysters, $3 Abita beers, $5 hurricanes, Cajun sausage sandwiches, crawfish boil by the pound, and a lot more! You can come as you are, but costumes are definitely encouraged!
Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen in Brandon embodies the free spirit of the Big Easy with its funky-fun atmosphere and authentic Creole dishes. In addition to New Orleans classics, Tibby’s also serves creations like fried green tomatoes and crawfish and muffuletta spring rolls. They also have new takes on the shrimp po’ boy like Cajun sausage and Creole Parmesan po’ boy sandwiches. On Fat Tuesday, happy hour is all day, and live music will be playing from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
At these New Orleans-inspired events and restaurants, there's plenty of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday fun in Tampa Bay.
Cover photo courtesy of Adobe Stock Images