By Lauren Wulf

It’s Mardi Gras time and hopefully that means the Polar Vortex is coming to an end. To celebrate Fat Tuesday in Chicago, here are a few local bars to ring in the occasion!

(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

The Boundary Mardi Gras

Date: March 3 – 9 & March 12
1932 W Division
Chicago, IL

The Boundary is sure to spice up Division Street for Mardi Gras, March 3-9. The week-long event features:

• Alligator Gumbo: alligator meat, andouille sausage, “The Trinity,” long grain rice $8
• Chicken Jambalaya: andouille sausage, “The Trinity,” pork tasso, Cajun spices, long grain rice $13
• Shrimp Po’ Boy: crispy rock shrimp, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, Remoulade sauce, French bread $13

(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

Cactus Crawfish Eating Contest for Charity

Date: March 4

404 S. Wells Street

Chicago, IL

Contestants: $20 entrance fee (proceeds will be donated to New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity)
 Cheer Them On: the event is free to attend

Cactus Bar and Grill will hold their fourth annual Crawfish Eating Contest for charity on Tuesday, March 4 at 6 p.m. This fun, Fat Tuesday event encourages competitors to consume three pounds of crawfish in the fastest amount of time possible. Contestants will be divided into heats, and the winner of each heat will compete in the final round. There is a $20 fee to participate and competitors will receive a Cactus crawfish contest t-shirt. All proceeds will benefit New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

The first place competitive eater will be awarded a $100 gift certificate to Cactus Bar and Grill; the second place winner a “Hurricanes at Home” gift basket; and the third place participant will receive cooler stocked with Abita beer. Plenty of Mardi Gras accessories, such as beads and masks, will be passed out to the crowd.

Cactus will offer a variety of specials throughout Fat Tuesday week (March 3-7), including $6 Abita brews (Mardi Gras Bock bottles; Purple Haze; Amber draught), $5 Hurricanes, $12 Shrimp Po Boy sandwich, $12 Crawfish Boil platter, and Seafood gumbo ($5 cup/$7 bowl). $1 from every special sold will be donated to New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

To reserve a spot in the crawfish competition, visit For more information, call Cactus’ event line at 312.922.8025.

(Photo Credit: Moonshine Wicker Park's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Moonshine Wicker Park’s Facebook)

Moonshine Cajun Crawl

Date: March 4
1824 W. Division
Chicago, IL

The Urban Roadhouse presents the ‘Cajun Crawl’ – featuring traditional specialties like world-famous Hurricanes straight from the oldest bar on Bourbon Street and a bona fide Crawfish boil! Chef Rojo will be ordering fresh, live crawfish direct from Louisiana for the occasion. For only $8 per half-pound basket, or $14 per pound, it’s all-hands-on-deck for peel and eat crawdads (with potatoes, corn, drawn butter, and lemon wedges)! Guests can put out the fire with or authentic, freshly made Bacardi Hurricanes ($6) using an infamous recipe straight from a Moonshine friend at world-famous Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar on Bourbon Street.

Reservations are available via Open Table or by calling 773.862.8686. No cover.

(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

Untitled Supper Club’s Fat Tuesday Celebration

Date: March 4
111 West Kinzie Street
Chicago, IL

On Tuesday, March 4, Untitled Supper Club will present its annual Fat Tuesday celebration, a party to rival Bourbon Street itself. Featuring New Orleans inspired cuisine, cocktails, and live entertainment, the venue will keep the party going from its opening at 4:30 p.m. until close. The event is complimentary and donations benefiting the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund will be accepted. Hurricane cocktails, the classic Fat Tuesday beverage of choice, will be featured with Sailor Jerry Rum.

Mardi Gras is all about the music, and so is this party. The night’s entertainment will feature the ten-piece Lowdown Brass Band. With horns ranging from sousaphone to trumpet, Lowdown Brass Band will bring their energy and funky style to Untitled’s stage and parade around the restaurant. In support of New Orleans music, the New Orleans Musician Relief Fund will be on hand accepting donations. Established by musicians displaced by the devastation of Hurricane Kartina, the organization provides musicians from beginners to professionals with instruments, cars, housing, and funds for victims’ families.

Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without everyone’s other favorite New Orleans’ Cajun and creole cuisine. Featuring items such as gulf shrimp etouffee with Slagel Farms n’duja chicken sausage and chicken fried oysters with preserved lemon remoulade, the true gem of this feast is Jimbo’s crawfish boil, with peel-and-eat Louisiana crawfish served by the pound.

(Credit: Alliance Bakery's Facebook)

(Credit: Alliance Bakery’s Facebook)

Alliance Bakery PACZKI Special for Fat Tuesday

Date: March 4
1726 W Division
Chicago, IL

Division Street’s famed Alliance Bakery will serve their legendary PACZKI for Fat Tuesday – $2.25/piece. These can be pre-ordered by calling Alliance at 773.278.0366 or stopping by the bakery!

Flavors this year include:

• Raspberry Rose with Rose Glaze
• Apple topped with Cinnamon-Sugar
• Strawberry
• Apricot Orange
• Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream with Chocolate Ganache
• Bing Cherry
• Fresh Blueberry with Lemon Zest Glaze

Lauren Wulf, CBS Chicago

Lauren Wulf writes about living in Chicago on a budget on her website, A Poor Girl’s Guide Chicago.