Mardi Gras—or Fat Tuesday—is about indulgence, partying, and celebrating the culture of New Orleans. As the Cajun saying goes, it’s a way of “getting all the sin out” before entering the solemnity of the Lenten season. The storm before the calm, if you will.

The First State might be more than 1,000 miles north of the Gulf, but local bars and restaurants around #VisitWilm prove that the spirit of New Orleans isn’t as much about geography as it is about essence of good cheer (and good beer). Expect to see NOLA-inspired dishes of both the Cajun and Creole variety, drink specials, and sweet treats gracing the menus of area restaurants and watering holes.

This year, Mardi Gras falls on March 1st and these local restaurants are gearing up to celebrate the holiday. 

CAJUN KATE’S (722 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, DE 19809; (302) 416-5108)

Since its 2006 debut in nearby Boothwyn Farmers Market (1362 Naamans Creek Rd., Garnet Valley, PA), Cajun Kate’s has been a universally-loved fan favorite and the Wilmington location is no different. As the name implies, the menu is New Orleans-inspired and the diminutive hotspot churns out big flavors daily—here Mardi Gras is just known as regular ol’ Tuesday. Owners Don and Kate Applebaum, both classically-trained chefs and former New Orleans residents, are not shy with the seasoning that embodies the heart and soul of Gulf cuisine. Get your fill of traditional dishes like gumbo and jambalaya or nosh on a muffaletta or po’boy if you prefer your classics between two slices of bread. Be sure to check the website for a host of creative weekly specials—that’s where the Cajun magic lies.

NORA LEES FRENCH QUARTER BISTRO (124 Delaware St., New Castle, DE 19720; (302) 322-7675)

A visit to Nora Lees feels like a trip to Bourbon Street. Thanks to live music from a host of talented performers, the dimly lit space has an electric, underground vibe and you can almost feel your cool quotient increase when you sidle up to the bar and order a traditional Hurricane or Pimm’s Cup (or a Swamp Ghost if you’re adventurous). Be forewarned: the menu is not for those who think of salt and pepper as spices—there is serious soul here. Even typically mundane bites like chicken fingers and nachos get a lift from Cajun seasoning, but a walk outside of the culinary comfort zone is rewarded with tasty dishes like blackened alligator sausage and bourbon-glazed crawfish tails. Everything about this place is pure entertainment. The staff even gets in on the fun by dressing up in burlesque-style costumes. Let the good times roll, indeed.

KID SHELLEEN’S CHARCOAL HOUSE & SALOON (1801 W. 14th St., Wilmington, DE 19806; (302) 658-4600)

The beloved neighborhood pub is no stranger to throwing a good party and creating an awesome menu to match. In fact, the party gets started early and runs from February 22nd – March 2nd. This year’s Mardi Gras Week at Kids will feature food and drink specials all week with the flavor of New Orleans, kicking off the week with our Oyster Shuckin’ Happy Hour on 2/22 from 5-7PM.

MCGLYNN'S PUB (8 Polly Drummond Shopping Center Newark, DE, 19711)

Party like it's going out of style at McGlynn's Pub in Newark. March 1st brings $4 Purple Parrot Shots, $5 Bourbon Street Bombs, $6 Hurricanes and more! Come for the food, stay for the drinks and party hard with DJ B Lee. 

Make Mardi Gras and all the rich history, diverse culture and glorious gardens of Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley part of your next weekend escape. Start planning your visit today.