With less than a week before Mardi Gras, the parties are piling up. Some are clearly targeted at those seeking the Bourbon Street experience: McFadden’s and Town Tavern will both have bead contests — the person with the most wins bar tabs or cash — to go with cheap beer and hurricanes; the annual Bourbon Street Bash at Rumors adds a Cajun wing-eating contest to free beads, cheap drinks and live music.
But at some point, reality sets in. Most of us aren’t on endless spring break anymore, and while Fat Tuesday is fun, we have to get up for work on Ash Wednesday. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to Mardi Gras for adults.
(MARCH 3 UPDATE: Due to the snow and icy conditions, the Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade has been postponed and Bayou's parade from Dupont Circle to Foggy Bottom has been cancelled. Bayou's live music and all-you-can-eat feast will go on as scheduled.)
On Tuesday night, families and revelers will line Wilson Boulevard to watch the annual Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade proceed from North Barton Street to the west end of the Clarendon Metro Plaza. Vintage cars roll past, high school marching bands strut their stuff and flatbed trucks sponsored by neighborhood bars and businesses feature live music and bead-tossing employees. The family-friendly parade starts around 8 p.m. and the fun continues afterward at bars and restaurants. Our pick: DJ Texas Fred the Zydeco Cowboy, known for his Saturday afternoon “Trail Ride” show on WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, will spin Cajun and zydeco music at Iota beginning at 8 p.m. Iota Club and Cafe, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703-522-8340. www.iotaclubandcafe.com. Free.
Not many Mardi Gras events can stop traffic in Washington, but Bayou’s definitely will: The swinging horns of the local Yamomanem brass band will gather at the fountain in the middle of Dupont Circle at 4 p.m. before parading down New Hampshire Avenue to the Foggy Bottom restaurant. The $25 cover includes an all-you-can-eat Cajun buffet from 5 to 9 p.m., plus hurricane and Abita specials at the bar. The Dixie Power Trio performs from 5 to 7 p.m., and the brassy, bluesy Second Line Band picks up the baton at 9 p.m. Bayou, 2519 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202-223-6941. www.bayouonpenn.com. $25 cover charge begins at 5 p.m.
Bayou Bakery will once again shut down Arlington’s North 15th Street for a tented Bayou Gras Block Party from 5 to 10 p.m. The $30 food ticket includes a choice of any three dishes, from Muff-a-Lotta sandwiches to king cake, while drinks are sold in blocks of three: The $15 beer ticket includes three Abita Amber or Mardi Gras Bocks, and the $25 Krewe de Booze ticket is good for three cocktails, from your choice of a fruity rum punch or a bourbon and lemonade tea. (You’re allowed to share the tickets with friends and family.) Everyone gets free oysters from Rappahannock River Oysters, and all kids 12 and younger receive a free dinner and root beer. Bayou Bakery, 1515 N. Courthouse Rd., Arlington. 703-243-2410. www.bayoubakeryva.com. Entry requires the purchase of one food or drink ticket.
The Mardi Gras parties at Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras were the stuff of debaucherous legend, with stories witnesses were retelling five years later. While Lulu’s closed in the spring of 2006, its spirit will be revived a few blocks away during a Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras Reunion at Black Rooster Pub. Doors open at 6 p.m. for stilt walkers, fire eaters and live music from Diamond Alley, plus a tented outdoor area. Beware the 22-ounce hurricanes. Black Rooster Pub, 1919 L St. NW. 202-659-4431. www.blackroosterpub.com. Free.
The Crawdaddies are not strictly a zydeco band: The Baltimore group works blues, ska and roots rock into its accordion-fueled gumbo. But this anything-goes attitude also makes for a fun party that appeals to all ages. The dance floor at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club will be table-free for the Crawdaddies Mardi Gras show, which includes two sets beginning at 8 p.m. Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. 240-330-4500. www.bethesdabluesjazz.com. $20.
The Perseverance Jazz Band is a group of young Philadelphia musicians dedicated to Dixieland, ragtime and hot jazz, the kind of music that makes washboards and banjos swing. The group is making the trip down Interstate 95 to perform at Shaw’s Tavern’s Mardi Gras celebration; other highlights include Shrove Tuesday pancake specials, half-price burgers and, from 7 to 11 p.m., two-for-one draft beers and house wines. 7 p.m. Shaw’s Tavern, 520 Florida Ave. NW. 202-518-4092. www.shawstavern.com. Free.
Bluesman Tab Benoit is more likely to be associated with his hometown of Baton Rouge than New Orleans and Mardi Gras. Still, he’s a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and has performed at the Nolafunk Mardi Gras Ball in New York. If you’re lucky, one of the finest blues guitarists in the business will play “New Orleans Ladies” and “Power of the Pontchartrain” during his concert in Annapolis. 8 p.m. Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. 410-268-4545. www.ramsheadonstage.com. $32.50.
Jazz and zydeco are the best-known soundtracks to Mardi Gras, but anyone who’s visited New Orleans (or watched HBO’s “Treme”) knows that the Crescent City is also home to thriving bounce — a rapid-fire version of hip-hop — and funk scenes. DJ D-Mac will take over the upstairs at RedRocks on H Street for a free night of those New Orleans sounds. 8 p.m. RedRocks, 1348 H St. NE. 202-621-7300. www.redrocksdc.com. Free.
Food and Drinks
Hogo is celebrating Carnival for a week leading up to Mardi Gras. Each night features traditional food and cocktails from a different country. On Fat Tuesday, Hogo and its neighbor the Passenger are teaming for a Mardi Gras block party that features local brass band Yamomanem playing in the adjacent Warehouse Theatre from 9 p.m. to close, with different drinks at each bar. Owner Tom Brown says Hogo will have “fun New Orleans drinks,” such as hurricanes and hand grenades, while the Passenger will serve Sazeracs and other classic cocktails. Hogo, 1017 Seventh St. NW. 202-393-1313. www.hogodc.com. The Passenger, 1021 Seventh St. NW. 202-393-0220. www.passengerdc.com.
Acadiana is the fanciest (and priciest) of the bunch: A $100 ticket includes an all-you-can-eat feast of oyster po’ boys, shrimp and grits, crawfish etouffee, charbroiled oysters, Buffalo frog legs, a raw bar, boudin balls and mini beignets. Beers and cocktails are also unlimited, and guests can sample bourbons from a special tasting bar. 6 to 10 p.m. Acadiana, 901 New York Ave. NW. 202-408-8848. www.acadianarestaurant.com. $100.
The upstairs Black Jack bar at Pearl Dive will feature five beers from Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Company through Fat Tuesday, including a rare cask of the Restoration Pale Ale that will be tapped Friday at 4 p.m. All will sell for $5-$7, and $2.50-$3.50 during happy hour. Other drink deals for the weekend include $7 hurricanes from Black Jack’s frozen drink machine. Chef James Huff is preparing a special menu for Tuesday with barbecued shrimp and grits, roast beef po’ boys and muffulettas. Pearl Dive and Black Jack, 1612 14th St. NW. 202-319-1612. www.blackjackdc.com.