I’m from New Orleans, but when carnival season hits and I’m not there, I’m usually not interested in entertaining any saccharine takes outside of my hometown. Call me the authenticity police, or a snob, but I tend to avoid any Mardi Gras celebrations promising an “authentic NOLA experience." Throwing around the phrase “Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler” makes me want to yell back, "No, you wrong!"
That being said, there are a few New Orleans-leaning establishments around New York town that have earned my loyalty. Typically, it has something to do with their nailing ambience, grub or music.
So, here are a handful of Mardi Gras parties in New York City that I can sincerely recommend/don't hate the sound of. Most fall on Mardi Gras Day — Fat Tuesday — on Feb. 28.
But you don’t have to listen to me! “Do Whatcha Wanna.”
The Bed-Stuy bar, cafe and music club will celebrate Fat Tuesday night with tunes from Tubby, a NYC-based five-piece band playing old-school New Orleans R&B that “borrows liberally” from Allen Toussaint’s first album, “The Wild Sounds of New Orleans.” Chef Devin, who normally puts out a Spanish-inspired small plate menu, will serve Creole specials, including a Tasso ham and shrimp gumbo and an andouille sausage appetizer with baguette, dijon mustard and sofrito. Beverage-wise, they already have a French Quarter Crawl on their cocktail list: cognac, créme de noyaux, aged white rum, curaçao triple sec, bitters and a lemon twist. We love Lunatico, and as its owners are three musicians with ties to the Crescent City and who regularly schedule New Orleans bands — or bands of the New Orleans diaspora — on the calendar, we fully trust they won’t f— this one up!
Bar Lunatico, 486 Halsey St., 8:30-11:30 p.m. $10 suggested donation
At this Bushwick watering hole, Simon Glenn (who used to cook during Saints games at d.b.a. Williamsburg before it shuttered) has set up his New Orleans-style pop-up, the Tchoup Shop, seven days a week. Among our favorites: brisket-duck liver boudin balls, crawfish mac ‘n cheese and red beans and rice (during brunch, it comes with fried eggs and a biscuit). Mardi Gras night, their party includes a tap takeover from Abita Brewery (with $5 pints), $8 Hurricanes (both regular and frozen), King Cake, to-be-announced specials from the Tchoup Shop (we trust) and music from DJs Edward Askew and Chad Dubs of Get Summered. Heavy Woods 50 Wyckoff Ave., “8 p.m.-IDGAF,” free entry
The sex-positive, costume-crazed “temple of expression”/Bushwick den of id is consistently Extra — just like Mardi Gras. We were won over by the name alone, but also the lineup of Idle Hands brass band, bounce music from lllexxandra and (likely clothing-scant) aerialist acts from Lady Circus. Bring it on. House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff Ave., 10 p.m.-3 a.m., free
We have nothing bad to say about any chance to see some actual New Orleans bands. Sunday, Feb. 26 through Saturday, March 3, the Williamsburg bowling alley and concert hall has lined up concerts featuring New Orleans dudes the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Soul Rebels and Walter Wolfman Washington and the Roadmasters (who hit the stage on Tuesday night). Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Ave., prices and showtimes vary