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Drop everything and grab a slice of king cake—Mardi Gras has arrived. Denver may not boast the carnival celebrations that New Orleans is famous for, but we’ll gladly take Fat Tuesday’s (February 28) spirit of all-things-in-excess as an excuse to chow down on some indulgent, Louisiana-style eats. Before you embark upon fasting for Lent (or a pre-summer diet), here’s where to get a delicious taste of the Big Easy, Denver-style.
Just off the 16th Street Mall, this little piece of Cajun country comes complete with New Orleans Saints memorabilia and Louisiana State University flags on the walls. Grab a rum-based hurricane cocktail and try the house-made jambalaya or crawfish étouffée with a side of fried ‘gator tail. If you’re in the mood to sample a little bit of everything, get the Cajun Combeaux, which offers a mixed platter of down-home specialties for $16.99. 1635 Glenarm Pl., 303-573-6828
This Uptown eatery offers modern twists on Southern staples, such as sriracha shrimp sliders on sweet potato brioche buns. But it’s the namesake dish that you should save room for: Their dark, rich, roux-based stew is chock-full of chicken and andouille sausage and has just the right amount of spice. Swing by for happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m. to get deals on small plates and drink specials. 1033 E. 17th Ave., 720-266-5300.
The Saturday morning lines for Lucile’s beignets often rival those found at Café du Monde. The good news? So do the beignets. Warm, fluffy, and covered in powdered sugar, these sweet fritters will practically transport you to New Orleans. Round out your brunch with a signature Bloody Mary and one of the buttery biscuits with house-made jam. Multiple locations
With locations in Capitol Hill and Jefferson Park, this upscale eatery is the place to visit for traditional Louisiana favorites, from po’ boy sandwiches to shrimp and grits. But it’s the signature Big Easy-style brunch options that truly make Sassafras so popular. Just try the Cajun Benedict, which comes loaded with gulf shrimp, crab cakes, fried oysters, and Tasso ham, and you’ll understand. 320 E. Colfax, 303-831-6233; 2637 W. 26th Ave., (303) 433-0080
For an unconventional Mardi Gras experience, stop by this LoDo pizza joint for its February special: jambalaya pizza. This not-so-traditional pie comes topped with andouille sausage, chicken, rice, and Cajun spices. 2210 Blake St., 303-296-9000
Bonus: The Boulder International Film Festival is taking viewers on a trip to the South with the premiere of Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, a film that profiles the 91-year old restaurateur who built landmark New Orleans eateries Brennan’s and Commander’s Palace. Catch the screening Friday, March 3 at 7:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church (1820 15th St., Boulder). And if you happen to find yourself in east Boulder county from February 24 through Fat Tuesday, check out the Mardi Gras specials at Erie’s 24 Carrot Bistro, which include house-made sausages and perfectly mixed Vieux Carré cocktails. 578 Briggs St, Erie, 303-828-1392