One of the most famous celebrations, Mardi Gras, is a party like none other. Rich in culture, history, food, decadence, and music, the celebration of Mardi Gras isn’t confined just to New Orleans. Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday – the day that signifies the start of the 40 days leading up to Easter (essentially, it’s the day to get all your sinning in before the long fast). If you can’t make it down to NOLA for the festivities, there are several places in the North Jersey area that are ready to celebrate. Read on for a guide on celebrating Mardi Gras in North Jersey.
Mardi Gras Celebrations
Mardi Gras Celebration at Reeves-Reed Arboretum | 165 Hobart Avenue, Summit
From 10AM to 11AM on February 21st, the Reeves-Reed Arboretum will be hosting a Mardi Gras Celebration for kids ages 5 to 10. Members and non-members alike are welcome to attend. Registration is required and masks are optional. This event will allow children to learn about the culture and the history of the holiday and make crafts. You can register here.
Read More: A Definitive List of Hoboken Desserts You Must Eat ASAP
Mardi Gras Festival at Brunswick Square Mall | 755 NJ-18, East Brunswick
From 1PM to 3:30PM on September 19th, there will be a Mardi Gras celebration at the Brunswick Square Mall located at 755 NJ-18 East Brunswick. This event is perfect for little ones and features crafts, samba dancers, face paint, balloon twisting, and more.
Mardi Gras Pop-Up Event Hosted by Corgi Spirits | 1 Distillery Drive, Jersey City
Corgi Spirits is partnering with Krewe of McGinley Square to host a NOLA-themed pop-up event featuring authentic dishes and drinks alongside live music. Entrance is $10 and food and drinks are available for purchase a la carte. The event will run from 5PM to 8PM on February 21st at 1 Distillery Drive in Jersey City. You can purchase tickets on Eventbrite.
Mardi Gras Social with Mixers at the East Orange Golf Course | 440 Parsonage Hill Road #1161, Short Hills
East Orange Golf Course located at 440 Parsonage Hill Road in Short Hills, will be offering a Happy Hour Social with Mixers. You will get to enjoy drinks, appetizers, and entrees in their newly rebuilt clubhouse. This mixer sponsored by Professional and Business Social Network (PBSN) and several Meetup groups is designed for guests to get to know others and requests that you wear Business Casual Mardi Gras attire. It will run from 5PM to 7:30PM on February 21st. You can purchase tickets on Eventbrite.
Where to Find Cajun + Mardi Gras-Themed Cuisine
Beignets | 5 Broadway #1, Denville
(Photo credit: @beigentsnj)
Beignets, located in downtown Denville, is a tasty treat spot offering European-inspired coffee, lattes, and desserts. Here you can order from over 13 specialty doughnuts or make your own. If you DIY your doughnuts you can try strawberry glazed with peanut butter chips on top or even banana glazed with chocolate chips. Along with their donuts, Beignets is one of the few places in North Jersey where you can get freshly made beignets. These warm and pillow-soft treats come with powdered sugar and sometimes even cinnamon. It’s truly all in the name.
Bourbon Street Beignet | 301 Center Avenue, Westwood
(Photo credit: @bourbonstreetbeignet)
At Bourbon Street Beignet you’ll get a little bit of NOLA in NJ. This New Orleans-style cafe offers croissants, pie, muffins, danish, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and of course beignets (it’s in the name). You can order a three, six, or twelve count of beignets covered with powdered sugar or rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Cap’t Loui | 210 Main Street, Fort Lee + 10 Park Street, Montclair + 25 US-22 Highway, Springfield
Cap’t Loui serves Cajun-style seafood and sides. Here you can enjoy their Boiler option which includes your choice of seafood, sauce, whatever spice you can handle, and extras like noodles, corn, and potatoes. Cap’t Loui also offers jambalaya (a rice dish consisting of meat and vegetables) Po’Boy sandwiches, and beignets.
Crab Island Cajun Seafood + Bar | 1016 Main Avenue, Clifton
Crab Island Cajun Seafood + Bar is a full liquor bar serving hush puppies, corn, sausage, rice, and more fried fish than you could catch. Open from 12PM to 10PM, this bar offers outdoor seating, has several televisions for sports watching, and has Spanish-speaking staff. If you are looking for a chill date night and some crab legs, Crab Island is perfect.
Hook + Reel | 50 Bayonne Crossing Way, Bayonne + 100 Broadway Suite 13, Elmwood Park + 200 Passaic Avenue, Kearny + 687 West Edgar Road, Linden + 965 Jefferson Avenue, Union + 495 Prospect Avenue Suite #20, West Orange
With over 75 locations, six of which are in North Jersey, Hook + Reel is serving up some really good Cajun seafood. Here you can find lobster, catfish, flounder, and oyster fried, breaded, and served to perfection. Their Po’Boys are literally a mouth full. Served with french fries or soup, these sandwiches can be filled with catfish, flounder, or shrimp — and for non-seafood lovers, you can get chicken.
Krewe of McGinley Square | 673 Bergen Avenue, Jersey City
Krewe of McGinley Square is a taste of NOLA in Jersey City. The masterminds behind this restaurant are actress and filmmaker Hank Morris and chef Anthony Tamburro, a husband and wife duo. Since Spring 2021 the couple has been serving cornbread, gumbo, Po’Boys, jambalaya, grits, collard greens, beignets, and of course, seafood. In case you didn’t know, krewe is a term regarding organizations that stage a parade or carnival celebration and is highly associated with Mardi Gras.
La Bon Bake Shoppes | 2062 NJ-27, Edison + 356 Amboy Avenue, Woodbridge + 456 Elizabeth Avenue, Somerset + 6101A Hadley Road, South Plainfield
(Photo credit: @labonbakery)
La Bon Bake Shoppes opened its doors in 1952 as La Bonbonniere Bake Shoppes. While it has a French name and an Italian founder, the bakery has always offered a variety of European and American goods. In preparation for Mardi Gras, the spot will be serving Kings Cake, macaroons, and paczki until February 19th at 7PM. Paczki options include cheese, raspberry, Nutella custard, chocolate cannoli, and more. The Kings Cake comes in a variety of flavors such as lemon, blueberry, cherry, strawberry, and cinnamon cream.
See More: A Guide to Authentic French Eateries in Montclair + Beyond
The Cajun Crab Louisiana Seafood Restaurant | 789 US-22, North Plainfield
The Cajun Crab Louisiana Seafood Restaurant serves a wide variety of seafood such as tilapia, calamari, shrimp, clams, mussels, and scallops. Along with these authentic Louisiana dishes you can order hush puppies, which are a must, as well as corn, sausage, and rice.