Six Restaurants for a Proper Fat Tuesday

The Free Man Cajun Café in Deep Ellum is a small, dark, shotgun bar and restaurant with marginal lighting that keeps things dim, which is certainly a prerequisite for any proper New Orleans-ish bar. So, if you're going for a truly comparable experience, this is your place. Three Quarters Fast Jazz Band (Dixieland style) will hit the stage at 7 p.m. and general merriment with a voodoo edge will be hanging around. Try the voodoo chicken sandwich or muffaletta.

Sundown at Granada is never one to miss an opportunity to throw a party. Chef Patrick Stark will have a special menu of jambalaya with sausage, chicken and shrimp; a Fat Tuesday burger with Cajun shrimp and pepper Jack cheese; po' boy wraps with sautéed Cajun shrimp baja slaw and avocado. Hurricanes are $2 all night or order a $7 Deer and Beer (lite beer with a Jager shot). A DJ starts at 5 p.m. p.m.

Chef Ivan Pugh at The Alligator Café is pulling out the big tent for their eighth annual Mardi Gras party at 9540 Garland Road. The festivities include live music, a buffet of Creole faves and a crawfish boil. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the buffet is $25 per person.

We really like the balcony at The Quarter Bar. Mostly because it's up high. But also because it's reminiscent of Bourbon Street antics. Inside, this spot has the charm and dark mystique of an old French Quarter bar, except that the bathrooms are clean. This sister bar of Bread Winners Café will have a happy hour buffet, Abita beer and hurricanes on Fat Tuesday. Hopefully some king cake too.

All area Aw Shucks and Big Shucks will have $5.99 crawfish specials and $2.50 Abita beer, in addition to their regular happy hour specials (3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.), which according to their site includes half-priced oysters on the half shell.

Even Plano likes to party on an occasional Tuesday. Big Easy New Orleans Style Sandwiches at 1915 N. Central Expressway will have live music courtesy of the Preston Ridge Jazz Quartet. I haven't tried them, but if pictures provided any indication of good food, I'd certainly try their Italian special (photo above).

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.