It's no French Quarter, but San Francisco's Fillmore District is the place to be if you want to go out, drink a few, and listen to live jazz on Mardi Gras. You can buy tickets to next Tuesday's street festival here, or throw a party at home with local flair. From the perfect fried chicken to the Mardi Gras beads, here's how to make the greasy, boozy, fun of New Orleans' great holiday at home in San Francisco.
The King Cake: Putting the fat in Fat Tuesday, this Danish-style round of glazed, food-dyed deliciousness used to be impossible to find in San Francisco. A few years ago, Arizmendi Bakery caved to the pressure, and now you can get one of their small ($14) or large ($21) pecan and orange-peel studded brioche numbers this weekend through Monday. Both the Mission and Sunset collectives are offering king cake on alternate days. Call ahead for availability and to pre-order.
The Beads, The Masks, Etc.: The original San Francisco novelty purveyor, SF Party stocks up on shiny, multi-colored strings of Mardi Gras beads and gaudy purple-and-green masks for the holiday. Beware they've got several rooms of party paraphernalia, so you'll probably get sucked into buying noisy paper horns and confetti too.
The Savory Stuff: For a seriously addictive local spin on beans and rice, pick up some red beans from Rancho Gordo at this Saturday's Ferry Plaza market. Spice it up with andouille from the Schwarz (1789 Mission St.) factory outlet on Mission and 14th.
Fat Tuesday is also a great excuse to take a crack at fried chicken, and we absolutley love the approachability of the recipe in the brand new February edition of Bon Appetit. An air-chilled bird from Mary's near Fresno is a great place to start.
The Booze: Bless them (for once), local BevMo! outposts stocks up on NOLA prized beer Abita in honor of Mardi Gras. You can also buy it at the very well-stocked New Star-Ell Liquor (501 Divisadero) in the Western Addition, Healthy Spirits (2299 15th Street) in the Castro and Liquid Experience (1589 Haight St.) in the Upper Haight.
You should probably make NOLA-born sazeracs too. Pick up some Old Overholdt or Wild Turkey Rye—Elixir's H. Joseph Ehrmann's favorite less expensive brands. You'll also need Peychaud bitters, sugar, absinthe and ice. Then follow this recipe from local spirits writer Camper English.
If hurricanes are your thing, try out this recipe from Martin Cate of Smuggler's Cove. Mix 1:1:2 parts lemon juice, BG Reynolds passion fruit syrup (available at Cask in SoMa) and dark Jamaican rum. Shake with cracked ice and strain into a hurricane glass.
The Tunes: To set the right New Orleans' funky, jazzy tone the experts at local music outfit Noise Pop have hand-selected songs for your playlist. This will make you look cool:
The Bars: After all that, some of your friends are going to want to keep the party going. For that, we recommend a few bars that will be bringing the Big Easy: Elite (2049 Fillmore St.) in Pac Heights, Black Magic Voodoo Lounge (1400 Lombard St.) in Cow Hollow, the recently remodeled Place Pigalle (520 Hayes) in Hayes Valley, Shotwell's (3349 20th St.) in the Mission, and The Page (298 Divisadero St.) in the Lower Haight. At the very least, Abita will be free-flowing at all of the above.