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 February 22st and these local restaurants are gearing up to celebrate the holiday. 

Eat & Drink

The restaurants of the Wilmington, Delaware and the Brandywine Valley draw influences from the farm-to-table values of the Pennsylvania Dutch to…

Becca Methias

Cajun Kate's 

Since its 2006 debut in nearby Boothwyn Farmers Market, 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 

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 and Saloon 

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 15 –  February 21.  Mardi Gras at Kids will feature food and drink specials throughout the week with the flavor of New Orleans.


Wilma’s new to Wilmington's downtown Market Street, transformed a 100-year old bank hall into a full-service bar and restaurant with a 4-lane duckpin bowling alley and retro arcade games. The menu features Southern & New Orleans-inspired cuisine from rising Wilmington Chef James Sparks of Makers Alley, add in an array of craft cocktails, draft beers, and French wines. Let the good times roll at Wilma's! And this year, Wilma's will be part of Out & About Magazines Mardi Gras Loop - February 18th. Prepare for speakeasy cocktails, live jazz, endless king cake, and mystical spectacles at the area's Mardi Gras destination. 

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.