Mardi Gras. That brief shining moment when you let your inhibitions down, you suddenly become a fan of hurricanes and SoCo & lime shots, and if you could start a second line parade in the middle of your town, you probably would.
We've put together a list of 25 spots that will be channeling the spirit of N'Awlins this weekend or on Fat Tuesday itself, Feb. 28. Obviously, these are just 25 locations out of the countless bars and restaurants in the Garden State, so if you know of a Mardi Gras party not listed here, please feel free to let us know in the comments below.
And remember to make sure you have a ride home or a designated driver if you head out drinking.
ACROSS NEW JERSEY:
APPLEBEE'S: The neighborhood bar and grill celebrates Mardi Gras season through March 5 and is featuring Bourbon Street chicken and shrimp ($9.99), a grilled Cajun-seasoned chicken breast served on a sizzling skillet accompanied by blackened seasoned shrimp. You can order up an Applebee's Hurricane (made with Captain Morgan and Myers's rum), Bourbon & Berries (Maker's Mark with blackberry and cranberry juice), or a classic Jack & Cola. Click here to locate the Applebee's nearest you.
QUAKER STEAK & LUBE: The auto racing-themed chain with three locations in New Jersey celebrates Fat Tuesday with an all-you-can-eat special. For $15.49 diners can choose from wings or shrimp for $15.49. 1304 Route 22, Phillipsburg. 908-454-2900. | 561 Route 1 South, Edison. 732-777-9464. | 1036 Cedar Bridge Ave., Brick. 732-255-5823.
CHEVY'S: Fat Tuesday is Taco Tuesday at Chevy's. "Fat Taco Tuesday" has $2 chicken or beef tacos available all day long for dine-in customers only. The bar will be serving up its famed frozen beverages. Special available at the following locations: 1150 S. Stiles Street, Linden. 908-862-9800. | 365 Route 3, Clifton. 973-777-6277.
MJ's: All MJ's locations celebrate Fat Tuesday this year thanks in part to Spirit of Louisiana Rum. "America's Bayou Rum" (specifically its Bayou Silver and Bayou Satsuma Orange flavors) will be poured into MJ's $5 Bayou Hurricanes. The kitchen, known for its burgers, wings and pizza, will cook up chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, Bourbon Street blackened tuna, and jambalaya and shrimp po' boys. 19 Summerhill Road, Spotswood. 732-251-7400. | 845 Route 34, Matawan. 732-566-6220. | 1005 Route 35 North, Middletown. 732-796-1400. | 1213 Sycamore Ave., Tinton Falls. 732-542-3131.| 3205 Route 66, Neptune. 732-918-9700.
BLUE MOON MEXICAN CAFE: The North Jersey-based chain of Mexican restaurants, founded in 1987, have a simple motto: "Life is a Fiesta Every Day." So obviously the chain is going to be celebrating Fat Tuesday with gusto. All three New Jersey locations will serve Mexican jambalaya, the Bayou burrito, Cajun-inspired crab cakes, and sauteed Cajun shrimp. Behind the bar at each locale will be Cruzan Rum hurricanes, and Pyrat Rum punch served in Blue Moon Mardi Gras hurricane glasses (which you keep after purchase). From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at each spot will be live New Orleans jazz bands -- Cactus Salad (Englewood), Common Ground (Wyckoff), and David Bennet Cohen (Woodcliff Lake). 23 E. Palisade Ave., Englewood. 201-541-0600. | 42 Kinderkamack Road, Woodcliff Lake. 201-782-9500. | 327 Franklin Ave., Wyckoff. 201-891-1331.Hurricanes, like this one from Blue Moon Mexican Cafe, will be all the rage this weekend and Fat Tuesday.Courtesy of Blue Moon Mexican Cafe
THE MEYERSVILLE INN: The Meyersville Inn will have a stacked food and drink menu to commemorate Fat Tuesday. Behind the bar the Meyersville will serve Tropical Storms ($5), hurricanes ($10), and ginger margaritas ($10). On the menu you can kick things off with shrimp po' boy sliders ($12), Cajun popcorn ($11), and jalapeno and cheese grits ($10). Entrees include chicken Nola ($18), Louisiana shrimp and scallops ($25), and shrimp Creole ($24). You can finish the night off with traditional Mardi Gras desserts such as king cake ($3) and beignets ($8). 632 Meyersville Road, Gillette. 908-647-6302.
SOUTH HOUSE BAR AND RESTAURANT: Jersey City becomes New Orleans at The South House on Tuesday. The bar will be stocked with Fat Tuesday drinks including Carnival punch, hurricanes, "swamp water" shots, and Abita Purple Haze drafts. The bar, known for its great live music, will have Brooklyn's High and Mighty Brass Band in the house. 149 Newark Ave., Jersey City. 201-209-1316.
HAT CITY KITCHEN: This Southern gastropub is known for its love of New Orleans -- at the bar, on the menu and on their stage. Fat Tuesday will be no different. Outside of its regular Southern-inspired menu, diners can enjoy Hat City's $18 special -- a ribs and chicken dinner or a fish and chips dinner. Like last year, The Big Mamou will be providing the lively energy needed for a proper Mardi Gras party. 459 Valley St., Orange. 862-252-9147.
CLOVERLEAF TAVERN: Who knew a historic Irish pub in Caldwell would be so into Mardi Gras? Now through Tuesday, the pub, established in 1933, will serve a New Orleans-inspired menu for lunch and dinner. Steamed crawfish ($12), oysters Rockefeller ($10), spicy gumbo ($16), muffuletta ($12), and the Cajun crunch burger ($14) are just some of the items you can throw some beads (and your tastebuds) at. You can enjoy $12 hurricanes, $4 Abita Purple Haze drafts, $3 Abita Mardi Gras dopplebocks, and $8 Abita-'Ritas. 395 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell. 973-226-9812.
QXT's: Newark's alternative-minded nightclub celebrates Mardi Gras on three floors. On Saturday the club hosts a "Mardi Gras Masquerade." There will be hurricanes served behind the bar and king cakes to snack on. DJ Mindsolvent spins on the main floor, DJ Dysfunction performs at Area 51, and DJ Blindvision cuts it up in The Crypt. There are $4 drink specials before 11 p.m. $10 cover. 248 Mulberry St., Newark. 201-983-9397.
IRON BAR: It's "Mardi Glows" on Friday at Iron Bar in Morristown. 92.3 AMP Radio's Astra will host this party that offers "1000s of glow giveaways." The night will continue to be lit when DJ Tony Gia and Anthony L keep things 100 with their blend of high-energy, crowd-pleasing club music. 5 South St., Morristown. 973-455-7111.
CENTRAL & WESTERN NEW JERSEY
OLD BAY: New Brunswick Cajun restaurant and bar Old Bay will celebrate Mardi Gras from Feb. 28-March 1, though literally every day is Mardi Gras there. On Fat Tuesday, the party begins at 4 p.m. and rages until 2 a.m. Live music will be provided by the New Brunswick Jazz Project and ON7 (Old Number 7) Band. There is a New Orleans style buffet, beads, masks, giveaways, and of course behind the bar will be your favorite NOLA-inspired drinks. $15 cover. 61 Church St., #63, New Brunswick. 732-246-3111.
HUB CITY BREWHOUSE: One of the newer kids in the Hub City scene celebrates Mardi Gras with Magic Hat this year. The famed craft beer will be on hand and the brewhouse will be spotlighting several of its brands on tap for beer lovers to check out. There will be a ton of giveaways throughout the night. The bar's regular Brain Game Trivia night will continue as planned. 335 George St., New Brunswick. 732-543-1804.
BLUE MOON CAFE: South Amboy's home for jazz and blues celebrates Mardi Gras on Saturday starting 7 p.m. The kitchen will serve Cajun menu items, while house favorite Hot Takeout plays a night full of zydeco music. 114 South Broadway, South Amboy. 732-525-0014.
VERVE RESTAURANT: The eclectic Somerville restaurant will have "five days of fun" to commemorate Mardi Gras but partial proceeds will go to Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack. The party began on Thursday and will march until Tuesday. Throughout this run there will be live music and drink and food specials inspired by New Orleans, Venice, and Brazil. Sunday is Verve's 4th annual Gumbo Cook-Off and buffet from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. There is a $10 cover and music by Bob Lanza. On Fat Tuesday there will be more food and drink specials from New Orleans and Venice plus "prizes, gaudy decorations, and cheap plastic trinkets." 18 East Main St., Somerville. 908-707-8655.
CROSSROADS: It's a "Phat Tuesday" jam at the popular Union County restaurant and music venue. Tuesday night regulars Secret Sound and friends will perform their weekly jam session. Diners can enjoy half-price tacos. Craft beer fans will enjoy discount craft drafts. 78 North Ave., Garwood. 908-232-5666.Bar Anticipation in Lake Como, the place where summer never ends, will be celebrating Mardi Gras on Saturday and then combining its weekly Beat the Clock party with Fat Tuesday.Photo Courtesy NJ.com
JERSEY SHORE AND SOUTH JERSEY:
REEF AND BARREL: The old Edgar's Irish Pub has been re-invisioned as Reef and Barrel, a beach bar and restaurant nestled on the border of Manasquan and Sea Girt. On Fat Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the excellent jam/funk outfit Waiting on Mongo will perform a set of New Orleans jazz and funk. The kitchen will roll out a special Bourbon Street menu while the bar slings $3 Coors Lights, $5 Magic Hats, and $5 hurricanes. Dress to impress as you can win a prize. No cover. 153 Sea Girt Ave., Manasquan. 732-449-4114.
HOUSE OF INDEPENDENTS: The Asbury Park Masquerade Ball happens Saturday at HOI. The party, which benefits the Asbury Park Music Foundation, features Jersey favorites The VooDUDES and The Marc Stone 3, straight from the heart of N'Awlins. This is a masquerade ball, so come in costume because those with the best will be named King or Queen of the Ball. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. 572 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park. 732-977-5284.
OLLIE GATORS PUB: Tucked away on Route 73 in West Berlin, Ollie Gators Pub is a little bit of N'Awlins in South Jersey. Its menu regularly features Cajun cooking such as jambalaya and shrimp and crab etouffee. Fat Tuesday is its biggest night of the year. There will be Southern hurricanes, New Orleans hurricane shots, specials on Coors Light and Miller Light, $4 Captain and cokes, and $4 Pinnacle vodka drinks, plus bead giveaways, a Cajun buffet in the back area, and an open jukebox where customers can chose whatever they'd like to hear. The bar will mix in New Orleans jazz between selections. Route 73 South, West Berlin. 856-768-9400.
BAR ANTICIPATION: On Saturday it's Bar A's annual Mardi Gras party featuring music by Big Bang Baby and resident DJ Mike Nice. There will be beads, masks, and boas. Admission is free until 9 p.m. and the bar will serve $3 Miller Lites. Fat Tuesday is going to be nuts as this coincides with Bar A's legendary Beat the Clock night. For those unfamiliar with Beat the Clock, here's a quick overview: Starting at 8 p.m. Bud Light drafts cost just 50 cents. Then every hour until midnight the price increases 25 cents. Resident DJ Dave spins and Event Horizon performs. 703 16th Ave., Lake Como. 732-681-7422.
CROSS AND ORANGE: On Saturday Cross & Orange celebrates its 2-year anniversary and Mardi Gras in a big way. The Shady Street Show band will perform all night long. There will be a 3-hour open bar and a Bourbon Street buffet. The bar is asking attendees to "dress to impress" as there is a prize for best Mardi Gras outfits. Tickets are available online or in person for $60 per person. 508 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park. 732-361-5502.
OFF THE HOOK: This Highlands hotspot will host a Mardi Gras bash on Saturday. DJ Rob Centineo will be in the mix while the bar will be serving up Coors Light and Abita specials. Given the nice weather we've been experiencing, hanging out on OTH's famed patio is probably a good call. 1 Route 36 South, Highlands. 732-872-2006.
10TH AVE BURRITO: The quirky Mexican restaurant and bar goes Cajun on Fat Tuesday. Its menu will feature red beans and rice with andouille sausage, alligator tacos, Gulf shrimp or oyster po' boys, debris po' boy burritos, gumbo, jamabalya burritos smothered in etouffee, and Bourbon Street bread pudding. The night will be headlined by the fat sounds of We Used to Cut the Grass. There is no cover. 801 Belmar Plaza, Belmar. 732-280-1515.
PHILLIPS SEAFOOD: The famed seafood house, located in Caesars, celebrates Fat Tuesday with all-day happy hour at the bar. This includes $4 beer, wine and cocktails as well as discounted food specials. If you have beads, you'll get a free appetizer with purchase. 1 Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City. 609-348-2273.
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