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.
How could I forget that today is Fat Tuesday? Clearly I've completely lost my Louisiana roots. In a panic, I looked up what's left to be hand: Arizmendi Bakery's king's cakes are sold out, the Mardi Gras celebration at Town Hall? Sold out too. But, ah, who would have thunk? The Republic is ringing in Lent with a Mardi Gras party tonight. Their chef Ronnie New is from the Big Easy and he'll be making barbecued shrimp (which was my request for every birthday dinner I ever had growing up in Baton Rouge) and some classic gumbo. Hurricanes as well as Abita beer (both Purple Haza and Turbo Dog) is also available—another prerequisite. Starts at 4 pm and goes until 1 am.
Mardi Gras is coming up next week and Townhall is having its annual Fat Tuesday celebration. Co-owner Mitch Rosenthal recalled last year's celebration: "We shucked 1,900 oysters. It was brutal. There were about six of us, just shucking and jiving." Although for 2008, the restaurant ordered big, fat oysters straight from Louisiana (having grown up there, I like my oysters big, which often slightly horrifies people here who prefer delicate little—i.e. sissy—Kumamotos), they learned a lesson when the $900 overnight shipping bill came. For 2009, the oysters will be sourced locally.