The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) encourages residents and visitors to commemorate Mardi Gras at your favorite New Orleans restaurant. The weekend leading into “Fat Tuesday” as it’s literally translated, also ushers in the cupid and heart-themed dining event – Valentine’s Day – the second most popular day of the year for restaurants. Historically, when Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day align, New Orleans restaurants compete with parades and parade traffic. This year, that isn’t the case.
“It’s true that Mardi Gras will be different this year,” said LRA President & CEO Stan Harris. “However, our restaurants will be open in and around the French Quarter and city-wide to provide our world-renowned cuisine and hospitality, whether you are celebrating Valentine’s or Mardi Gras. We hope you’ll indulge in our food, wine and cocktails as part of your celebration. You’ll see our restaurants have devised innovative ways to expand upon the traditional guest experience.”
In years’ past, many restaurants in the French Quarter were unable to open on Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras Day due to the crowds of revelers in visitor-centric areas like the French Quarter, but are open for business this year.
“The idea to open Galatoire’s for Mardi Gras Day seemed like a natural conclusion,” said Melvin Rodrigue, President & CEO of Galatoire’s and Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak. “If you’ve spent every Mardi Gras of your life on St. Charles Avenue or riding in Rex or Zulu, the nostalgia of a traditional Creole meal at Galatoire’s allows diners a way to celebrate –safely, with those in their households.”
Many restaurants tried their hand at the king cake game this year as a way to keep their staff employed and create a new stream of revenue as capacity limitations continue to limit revenue.
“Brennan’s launched three king cake flavors – Traditional, Black and Gold and the Pink Parade – available at Ralph’s on the Park, Brennan’s, and king cake outlets citywide,” said Ralph Brennan. “If we were going to do it, this was the year. My son Patrick and our pastry team created tasty and beautiful king cakes. The bar team jumped on the chance to flex their creativity with the themed purple, green and gold cocktails to complement guest meals.”
Also, given the focus on the Krewe of House Floats and New Orleans City Park’s Floats in the Oaks in lieu of parades, Ralph’s on the Park created Mardi Gras Parade Packs as an alternative for family meals pre- and post-viewing. Restaurant “floats” have popped up across the city. Commander’s Palace’s float pays homage to great local legend Pete Fountain, which has become a popular stop on the Garden District House Float Tour as well as a unique photo opportunity for patrons.
“Although New Orleans has issued some precautionary closures to control the crowds Mardi Gras typically brings to the city, full service restaurants are still open and looking forward to serving guests in a safe, socially-distanced setting,” said Chef Donald Link. “The Link Restaurant Group’s restaurants have been open and operating safely since last May with stringent protocols in place to provide a safe experience for our guests and team members.”
“Our four French Quarter restaurants (Palace Café, Bourbon House, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse and Tableau) are offering full menus and full bar service, with the exclusion of to-go drinks, to all of our diners,” said Steve Pettus, Managing Partner/COO, Dickie Brennan & Co. “After a slew of slower months, our staff is so excited to serve guests during these upcoming celebrations.”
Valentine’s Day also offers an opportunity for restaurants since there aren’t parades this year. Muriel’s Restaurant, in Jackson Square, has a robust weekend of reservations and is committed to providing a safe dining experience for guests and staff. “We are booked at 50 percent capacity from Friday through Sunday evening, with tables appropriately spaced on both floors along with eight air purifiers and room dividers in addition to our enhanced sanitation protocols,” said owner Rick Gratia.
Diners are encouraged to wear a mask unless actively eating or drinking and adhere to social distancing among individuals outside of their dining group. Hours of operation and reservation availability varies. Please contact your desired restaurant for your momentous 2021 Mardi Gras or Valentine’s Day experience directly to learn more. Help us make this year’s Mardi Gras and Valentine’s celebrations a success.