By Megan Horst-Hatch
Can’t get to New Orleans in time for the Mardi Gras parade? Don’t worry, the Chicagoland area has you covered. From parties featuring live music and dancing to food and drink specials, the Windy City gets a touch of the Big Easy with Mardi Gras-themed festivities. The festivities aren’t just limited to Fat Tuesday on February 12, either; grab your friends and get ready to party starting the weekend before. To get started, check out the following parties happening in and around the city.
Date: Feb. 9
Price: $20 donation; food and beverages are extra
If you want to start your Mardi Gras party over the weekend, consider attending a costume ball where you can dress up in a fancy costume, recycle last year’s Halloween outfit or don something in between. Organized by the Mardi Gras Society of Chicago as a way to promote the Karneval traditions of Germany, the event is open to the public and annually draws a crowd of more than 1,000 party-goers. According to Hans Wolf, the society’s public relations official, the party features live bands, dancing and a costume contest. “We’ve seen large groups attend the party, and they all dress up in a theme. It’s great to see people come out to the event and get dressed up,” Wolf said.
Vertigo Sky Lounge
2 W. Erie St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Date: Feb. 12
Price: Half-off food bill for anyone wearing beads or masks
If you’d like to plan a happy hour soiree, then check out Vertigo Sky Lounge. Located on the 26th floor of the Dana Hotel & Spa, the lounge is Chicago’s only year-round indoor and outdoor bar (don’t worry, the lounge’s fire pit will keep you warm). On Fat Tuesday, guests wearing beads or masks to the Near North Side bar will receive half off their food bill. So, what’s on the menu? Vertigo offers such delicacies as kobe beef sliders, hummus and vegetable platters and sushi. However, you need a table to place a food order, and you may want to make a reservation ahead of time. Get ready to go all out in your finest clothes – the bar’s dress code is cocktail party.
Uncle Fatty’s Rum Resort
2833 N. Sheffield Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
Date: Feb. 12
Price: No cover, $12 fishbowls, $5 Bacardi hurricanes and $3 Bud Light bottles
With a name like Uncle Fatty’s, it only makes sense that the bar will be one of the top places to throw down on Fat Tuesday. Located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, the bar offers specialty frozen drinks and its popular fishbowls, as well as its own take on classic cocktails like mai tais. Are you more of a beer drinker? You’ve got quite a few choices here as well. Uncle Fatty’s offers domestics like Budweiser and Miller, and its specialty and imported beer includes Corona, Red Stripe, Pacifico and Landshark. Uncle Fatty’s will also feature the cover band Wedding Banned, so expect a packed house. Get ready to unwind and relax on Fat Tuesday in between drinks; the bar has a beach vibe and guests can play darts, bags and foosball.
O’Donovan’s Pub & Restaurant
2100 W. Irving Park Road
Chicago, IL 60618
Date: Feb. 12
If you’re looking for some Mardi Gras-themed drinks and grub, look no further than O’Donovan’s Pub & Restaurant, located in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood and considered one of the oldest bars in the city. The bar is offering specials on Abita Brewing Company’s beers brewed right in Louisiana, as well as some mixed drinks, including hurricanes. O’Donovan’s also offers some New Orleans-inspired food, including red beans and rice, gumbo, cajun chicken, crab cakes and catfish. Blues and jazz music will be played all night as well.
1840 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Date: Feb. 12
Are you looking for some Southern hospitality as you celebrate Mardi Gras this year? Then check out The Southern, located in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. The bar will celebrate Fat Tuesday complete with a shrimp boil with potatoes and beer from Abita Brewing Company. Get ready to put on your dancing shoes, too, as a dixieland band is scheduled to perform. The Southern also has bourbon, whiskey, microbrews, wine and specialty drinks, including the “NOLA Sunset” (featuring ginger beer and orange liqueur) and “Southern Jerry,” which includes Sailor Jerry spiced rum and orange juice.
Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.