The Big Apple is a bit far from the Big Easy, but the festivities of New Orleans can still reach the northeast. Here are the top five ways to spend your Fat Tuesday this year.
Relax to Some Jazz
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, so pay homage to the famous streets and visit a smooth jazz club right here in the West Village. Smalls Live, a fairly old haunt, has always been the underground place to hear jazz day in and day out. For no cover and a one drink minimum in the afternoons, or a discounted $10 cover for students at night, Smalls Live provides a true jazz experience.
It is hard to avoid gaining weight on a trip to the Big Easy — the food is just that irresistible. While exact authenticity is difficult to find here, a few close calls are made on jambalaya, gumbo and more at some of Manhattan restaurants. Great Jones Cafe between Bowery and Lafayette and Bourbon Street Bar and Grille on 46th Street are offering jazzy atmospheres this Fat Tuesday to match their Cajun-style menus. To truly experience a New Orleans meal, though, find friends originally from New Orleans and ask them to cook for you.
Throw Me Something, Mister
Though there are not any parades to attend in New York City (and who would want to in this weather), sporting the official Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold is easier than ever. Mix all three colors using pieces in your wardrobe and head over to any local party store to get pairs of colorful. For a genuine parade experience, throw them out on the street to anyone who screams, “throw me something, mister.”
Eat the Cake
No Mardi Gras would be complete without a traditional King Cake. This sweet pastry of braided bread and sugar is one of the most difficult finds when outside of the south, but there may be hope. Mara’s Homemade, a restaurant that recently relocated outside of New York City, makes a sincerely Southern version and even ships them out. For a pastry closer to home, visit Silver Moon Bakery or Dominique Ansel Bakery, the home of the official Cronut, for a New York version of this classic treat.
Mardi Gras Mambo
The music of Mardi Gras is a crucial element of the season. High school marching bands are some of the best parts of the parades that take place in New Orleans, and DJs blast tunes that embody the spirit of the city’s people. To celebrate the festivities throughout the day, create a Mardi Gras playlist to accompany those drab walks to class. Make sure to include local favorites such as “Mardi Gras Mambo,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Mambo No. 5” and, of course, “Second Line.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 3 print edition. David Bologna is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]