Celebrate Mardi Gras without leaving Cincinnati

Posted at 8:30 PM, Feb 05, 2016

New Orleans soon will observe Fat Tuesday, the last day of the Carnival season. It will be revelers' last chance to party, adorn themselves with beads and masks, stuff their faces with crawfish, and Galette des Rois (King cake) and laissez les bon temps rouler before Lent.

You don’t have to visit the Crescent City to experience Mardi Gras, though. Many Cincinnati bars and restaurants have celebrations planned. Here’s your guide to the best events. (And you won’t have to flash your body parts to receive beads.)

Where to Go on Fat Tuesday

BrewRiver Gastropub: New Orleans-influenced BrewRiver Gastropub will throw a Mardi Gras party on Fat Tuesday. It'll have live music from Todd Hepburn and Larry Bloomfield, party favors, Sazerac cocktails, Abita beers (brewed in Louisiana) and traditional Cajun foods such as crawfish pie and dirty rice boulettes (balls). 2062 Riverside Drive, East End

Allyn’s Café: The creole café located in Columbia Tusculum gets into the Mardi Gras spirit with an evening crawfish boil and, starting at 5 p.m., an Abita beer tap takeover featuring some rare brews. Allyn's will serve some of its signature dishes, such as Mardi Gras pasta (fettuccine topped with shrimp, andouille sausage and sometimes crawfish), jambalaya, shrimp or crawfish etouffee, and blackened gator. And just like in New Orleans, there will be a lot of beads to dole out. 3538 Columbia Parkway, Columbia Tusculum

Moerlein Lager House’s Mardi Gras Happy Hour: As Moerlein’s event page states, “In New Orleans they call it Mardi Gras. In Germany they call it Karneval. In Cincinnati they call it Moerlein Lager House.” All day on Fat Tuesday, Moerlein Lager House will serve $10 Das Boots — Moerlein beers served in a to-scale plastic boot. It’s only $8 for a refill, and in addition to the boots, there will be Hurricanes (not served in boots), gumbo and beads. 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks

And One More ...

Mardi Gras on Madison: A New Orleans native now living in Cincinnati, Toya Foster moved here as a child. She runs the most authentic Cajun/Creole eatery in the city or, as she calls it a “homearaunt.” She will host a crawfish boil for the holiday and also celebrate the one-year anniversary of her brick-and-mortar location (the eatery started out of a food truck called New Orleans to Go). Unfortunately, Foster isn't taking reservations for the big event anymore, but that’s OK — you can celebrate Mardi Gras year-round there. 1524 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills. 

Weekend Festivities

MainStrasse Village Presents Mardi Gras: On Friday and Saturday, MainStrasse Village celebrates Mardi Gras with a bar crawl and a parade. The bar crawl will take place at various bars in the village Friday and feature fun festivities such as Pachinko's best Hurricane drink contest. The Grande Parade kicks off at 9 p.m. Saturday, featuring a performance by the Red Hot Dancing Queens — Cincinnati’s first New Orleans-style dance krewe — and unlike last year, the parade will be free. Expect there to be gumbo, beads and beers on hand all weekend. Main Street, Mainstrasse Village, Covington

Energy Nightclub Mardi Gras: Cut loose this weekend at Energy Nightclub’s Mardi Gras party. DJ Johnny B and DJ Sab will spin the tunes Friday night, and Kiss 107 and DJ Sab will host Klub Kiss on Saturday night. Energy has dubbed its weekend the “biggest Mardi Gras party outside of New Orleans,” and its event page states there will be thousands of beads, aerial performers, stilt walkers, free masquerade face painting and, of course, a lot of dancing. Women get in free before 11 p.m. if they check in on social media; otherwise it's $5 for women over 21, $10 for women under 21 and $15 for men under 21. Party starts at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For V.I.P., email 700 W. Pete Rose Way, Downtown

Overlook Lodge’s Mardi Gras/ Masquerade Party: Co-owner Jacob Trevino lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and spent some time in the New Orleans restaurant scene before moving to Cincinnati almost three years ago. According to Trevino's business partner and fiancée, Katie Fraser, the past two years they’ve thrown a crawfish boil for their family and friends. However, because they now have the Lodge, they’re hosting a party for Pleasant Ridgers starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, replete with masks, beads, a photo wall, special drinks, live, traditional New Orleans-style music and complimentary food. Trevino and Fraser are cooking a small, Cajun-themed menu themselves: muffuletta sandwiches, Cajun corn maque choux and King cake cupcakes. For drinks, they will have peach Hurricanes and the highly alcoholic "Definitely Not a Hand Grenade" (vodka, gin, grain alcohol, melon liqueur, honeydew, sour mix and lemon-lime soda). Because the name “Hand Grenade” is copyrighted, no one is allowed to call the drink a Hand Grenade, except for five designated bars in the French Quarter. 6083 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge

SCOOP’s Mardi Gras Fund-Raiser: SCOOP (Save Cats and Obliterate Over Population) rescues feral and stray cats and practices low-cost and no-cost spay/neuter programs and trap-and-release. The cat charity also cares for the cats in its shelter, and people can adopt them. You can save cats while celebrating Mardi Gras at SCOOP’s 10th annual fund-raiser 8 p.m.-midnight Saturday. Tickets are $25 per person, or $175-$225 for a table, and you get all-you-can-eat hot appetizers, beer, wine, soft drinks and the chance to bid on auctions and participate in a raffle. The Grove Banquet Hall, 9158 Winton Road, Springfield Township