Mardi Gras is next week, and you will want Cajun food. But you don’t have to wait until Fat Tuesday. Order your king cake and get started early. Here are some places where you can go to celebrate:
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▪ Bayou Bluegrass Catering kicks the celebration off early at Copper Roux, 861 South Broadway, with Fat Friday. Seatings begin at 5 p.m. Friday and are available from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Call 859-523-7915 for reservations or book online at Bayoubluegrass.com. It’s $30 per person for dinner on Friday and Tuesday, $18.50 per person for lunch on Tuesday.
▪ Bourbon ’n’ Toulouse, 829 East Euclid, will start the party at 11 a.m. Tuesday with alligator etouffee and king cake from Sunrise Bakery, plus the full menu. A crawfish boil, with 400 pounds of crawfish flown in fresh from New Orleans, will be available from 6:30 p.m. until it runs out. The party will go late into the night at BNT and next door at the Chevy Chase Inn, where they will serve hurricanes and Abita beer with live music.
▪ Gumbo Ya Ya, 1080 South Broadway and 294 East Brannon Road in Nicholasville, will celebrate at both locations, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday with alligator sauce piquant, crawfish creole, and crawfish etouffee, along with other Cajun staples. They will have free slices of king cake with purchase of a meal, along with other giveaways. You also can pre-order a king cake ($22.50), party packs and gallons of sauce for your own Fat Tuesday party. Call 859-252-9292 for Broadway or 859-245-9292 for Brannon.
▪ Ramsey’s Diners will celebrate Mardi Gras at all locations with a 1,000 pounds of crayfish fresh from New Orleans. The crayfish special will be served with seafood gumbo, red beans and rice, French garlic toast and Cajun corn and new potatoes. Ramsey’s also will have king cake, and if you get the baby you get a free meal. The celebration begins at 11 a.m. and goes all day and into the evening.
▪ Willie’s Locally Known, 286 Southland Drive, will open at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday for a crawfish boil, available by the pound, plus other cajun specials including chicken or crawfish etouffee and more. It goes until midnight with live music from Paul Luc from 8:30 to 11 pm.
▪ Winchell’s, 348 Southland Drive, will have Mardi Gras specials, including fried catfish with okra, crawfish etouffee, seafood jambalaya, chicken and sausage gumbo, red beans and rice with blackened catfish or chicken, fried oysters and king cake. Hurricanes are also available. Reservations are not necessary but recommended for large groups.
▪ Proud Mary BBQ, 9079 Old Richmond Road, will have a full Louisiana buffet with roast pork, ribs, brisket, fried catfish, froglegs, BBQ shrimp, crawfish etouffee, fried turkey, jambalaya and more, beginning at 4 p.m. It’s $27 for adults, $13.50 for children 12 and younger. Crawfish are $13 a pound. Live music starts at 7 p.m. Call 859-913-5611 for more information.
▪ Smokin Hogg Barbecue, 464 Wilson Avenue in Versailles, will be serving gumbo, shrimp creole and fried shrimp po’ boy sandwich specials on Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please call ahead for availability at 859-351-9701.
▪ Wild Thyme is having a Mardi Gras feast from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. There will be a Cajun-style buffet with jambalaya, shrimp etouffee, crawfish boil, pecan pralines, and New Orleans-style beignets for $45 per person. Book in advance at Wildthymecooking.com or call 859-523-2665. If one day of cajun celebration isn’t enough, or you just want to enjoy at home, Wild Thyme Cooking School also has a class on Cooking up Cajun at 6 p.m. Feb. 16 for $50 per person.
▪ Liberty Road Cafe, 720 Henry Clay Boulevard, will celebrate Mardi Gras with daily specials Thursday through Tuesday. You can get crawfish etouffee, shrimp po’ boys and other homemade specials. The cafe is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. In February, the cafe will donate 10 percent of all sales to the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center.
▪ If you can’t party on a Tuesday, Holly Hill Inn, 426 North Winter Street, will do a Big Easy Jazz Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with live jazz. On the menu, in addition to regular brunch fare, will be Eggs Sardou and Croque-Madame. The dessert special will be banana cream pie and chocolate bread pudding with bourbon sauce. It’s $25 per person. Call 859-846-4732 for reservations.
▪ Smithtown Seafood, 501 West Sixth, will have Fat Tuesday specials for lunch and dinner, beginning at 11 a.m., including duck and andouille creole gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and oysters on the half shell, plus king caked baked by Midway Bakery. Vegan jambalaya will also be available. Call 859-303-4100 for more information.