Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Fasnacht Day—whatever you call it and whether or not you recognize its religious significance, the day before Ash Wednesday is a terrific time to indulge.
And, since it usually falls during that time of winter when you’ve just had it, Fat Tuesday gives you a chance to distract yourself from the cold with some donuts, cakes, gumbo, and/or dance parties. Get your Fat Tuesday on.
Sikora’s Polish Market
The Poles also celebrate Fat Thursday, the Thursday falling before Ash Wednesday, and they do so by queuing up at local bakeries for a few pączki—donuts with rich, airy dough filled with fruit jams or custard. Sikora’s sold their pączki on Fat Thursday will again on Fat Tuesday, covering all the Fat Day bases. 1625 Washington St. NE, Minneapolis; 612-789-0907, sikoraspolishmarket.com
When was the last time you were promised money for finding a baby? Not babysitting. Finding a baby. Well, go to City Works by February 13, order their king cake, and, if you find the tiny toy tot in your slice, win a $250 Visa gift card. (You also get to be called king or queen of the feast. Put that on your résumé.) Their king cake is made of cinnamon brown ale cake topped with a nut crumble and cream cheese frosting, so even if you don’t find a tiny baby, you still kind of win. City Works is also dishing out alligator gumbo, shrimp po’ boys, and shrimp and grits, so make a night of it. 600 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-361-2900, cityworksrestaurant.com/minneapolis
This underground jazz spot always serves up New Orleans-inflected fare like catfish po’boys, gumbo, oyster Rockefeller, and beignets, so they’re a no-brainer destination if you want a taste of the Crescent City on Mardi Gras. Sweetening the deal is Vieux Carré’s performers for the night: Davina and the Vagabonds. Order your tickets now and arrive early to enjoy the show. A Sazerac makes it that much better. 408 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651-291-2715, vieux-carre.com
Black Forest Inn
Germany may not be the first country you think of when upon hearing “Fat Tuesday,” but the country has a long and established history of Karneval, Fasching, and Fastnacht in its traditionally Catholic regions. Customs vary, but parades and parties are common. With that in mind, head to Black Forest Inn on the 13th for food specials, live music, carnival mask-making, and more. They’ll have jelly donuts—krapfen—for all, and you can also enter their Fasching menu cover contest. 1 E. 26th St., Minneapolis; 612-872-0812, blackforestinnmpls.com
If you’re one of those people who feels they “have to” work out after eating cake, then Turf Club is a great destination for your Fat Tuesday. After a day of paczki and other treats, the Hennepin County Millionaires Club and Purple Funk Metropolis will get you on your feet, bopping and dancing (and sweating off calories, or whatever). Advance tickets are a cool $5 or $7 at the door. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul; 651-647-0486, turfclub.net
Isles Bun & Coffee
If going out to party isn’t your thing but eating a lot of cake is, order your king cake from Isles Bun & Coffee. Made from braided sweet dough and slathered with cream cheese frosting and colorful sprinkles, this is one cake that will make you feel like royalty. It serves 12 people, so you can throw your own little party all about this cake. 1424 W. 28th St., Minneapolis; 612-870-4466, islesbun.com