If you’ve got your heart set on bead-slinging, float-riding and exceptionally lax open container laws, Boerum Hill might seem a sad substitute for Bourbon Street. But if you refine your definition of laissez les bons temps rouler, by focusing mostly on mass consumption of po’boys, beignets and muffulettas, you’ll find that Brooklyn is second only to New Orleans, when it comes to commemorating Mardi Gras.
Best Boudin Balls: Tchoup Shop
Simon Glenn’s long-running pop-up (if you can even call it that, considering it operates seven days a week at Heavy Woods) serves fare inspired by his ten years spent as a chef in New Orleans. The menu changes frequently, but Glenn’s brisket-duck liver boudin balls are a reliable staple; spheres of deep-fried sausage coated in breadcrumbs, they’re served with Creole mustard and house-brined pickles alongside.
50 Wyckoff Avenue, Bushwick
Best Beignets: Cammareri Caffe
A sit-down offshoot of the famous Brooklyn bakery from Moonstruck, this Fort Greene café serves sandwiches, salads and sweets, rather than bread, bread, bread. And they’re not even nominally Italian; baked goods include chocolate babka, cheese danish and that French Quarter favorite, beignets; puffed squares of choux pastry, they’re liberally doused in powdered sugar (sadly, you can’t pair them with chicory coffee, although Cammareri does make a mighty fine espresso).
1 South Elliott Place, Fort Greene
Best Gumbo: Peaches
You can pretty much cover all your culinary bases this Mardi Gras at B+C’s mini dynasty of Bed-Stuy restaurants. Start with chicken and sausage gumbo at Peaches, boasting a distinct smokiness from its syrup-thick, extra dark roux, followed by peppery andouille links at the Hothouse, fried chicken and sautéed greens Marietta, and stacks of crispy catfish and curls of fried shrimp at the Smoke Joint.
393 Lewis Avenue, Bed-Stuy
Best Blackened Catfish: Ox Cart Tavern
The menu at this Ditmas Park gastropub is eclectic, to say the least, with cheddar and bacon-topped burgers keeping company with lamb lasagna, roasted chicken and spaetzle, and Cuban mojo pork. The basic through-line is that all goes down well with beer, to say nothing of that Big Easy classic, catfish; here it’s coated with cayenne, herbs and spices, hard-seared in a smoking cast iron pan, and served with the works, including hush puppies, stewed okra and creamy grits.
583 Argyle Road, Ditmas Park
Best Po’Boy: French Louie
Taking its name from a French Canadian woodsman, who traversed the U.S. with the circus before settling in the Adirondacks, this Boerum Hill brasserie is equally inspired by the American South and the South of France. And it frequently evokes both at once with distinctly Cajun offerings like po’boys—although instead of deep-fried, commonplace catfish, the baguette sandwiches are reinforced with red cabbage, fennel slaw and filets of grilled trout.
320 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill
Best Doberge Cake: Catfish
While numerous Brooklyn restaurants merely nod to Cajun cuisine with a dish or two, Catfish is one of the few borough spots entirely committed to it. It’s all here; from shrimp jambalaya and duck and ham gumbo, to Louisiana crawfish bisque and fully dressed, zydeco-sauced po’boys, which you’ll find paired with a side of Zapp’s chips. You can even bookend your meal with direct-from-New Orleans spirits and sweets, including Sazeracs, Hurricanes and doberge cake—multiple layers of sponge alternated with chocolate and lemon pudding, and encased in buttercream, fondant, or glaze.
1433 Bedford Avenue, Crown Heights
Best Hurricane: Loosie Rouge
You’ll find solid New Orleans eats at the stunning Loosie’s Kitchen, such as blue corn shrimp po’boys with dill remoulade, and blackened catfish with corn macque choux. But if you’d just as soon drink your way through Mardi Gras, best to commandeer a stool at their subterranean, Nola-inspired piano bar, which slings Vieux Carrés, comprising cognac, vermouth, benedictine and rye, and a not-to-sweet take on the Hurricane, made with chipotle-spiced passion fruit juice, organic coconut water, and banana-infused plantation dark rum.
91 S 6th Street, Williamsburg
Best Muffuletta: Ends Meat
While not as impressively stacked as their French Quarter counterparts, End’s Meat makes every layer of its muffuletta count—starting with UFO-shaped orbs of bread, sourced from a fourth-generation Sunset Park bakery, and moistened with parsley-caper puree. The typical olive salad is tricked out with beets, kohlrabi, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and topped with a duo of meats that have been butchered and cured in house; such as wobbly, garlic-scented mortadella and black pepper-ringed wheels of salami.
254 36th Street, Sunset Park