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Mardi Gras Madness Takes Over in D.C.

Douglas Graham
Rep. Cedric Richmond's (D-La.) office is decorated for Mardi Gras in the Cannon House Office Building.

Capitol Hill may not have the same reputation as Bourbon Street in New Orleans, but everyone in the area is getting ready to laissez les bon temps rouler for Mardi Gras tonight. Let loose on the cheap at one of the city’s favorite bars, dance the night away at a chic club or enjoy mouthwatering New Orleans fare at one of the area’s many fine restaurants. Not in the mood to go wild? Try a parade or pancake races instead.   

All About the Drinks

Bar 7 (1015 ½ Seventh St. NW) celebrates Mardi Gras with a host of happy hour specials and complimentary masks and beads. Wear purple, gold and green to get drink specials all night. Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission: free.

• The Bacardi and Bud Light girls will help BlackFinn (1601 I St. NW) ring in Mardi Gras with beads, samples and giveaways. In addition to lunch and dinner specials including chicken and sausage gumbo, the bar will serve $4 24-ounce Bud Lights and $5 Bacardi Rum Punch, Bacardi Hurricanes and Bacardi Rock Coconut. Hours: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission: free.

• Partyers can enter contests, raffles and giveaways at Dupont sports bar McFadden’s (2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). Burgers and shrimp and wing baskets are $5 all day, and the bar will serve $1 Bud Light drafts, $3 24-ounce Bud Light Mardi Gras cans, $3 imports and $5 bombs all night. Hours: 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Admission: free.

Sign of the Whale (1825 M St. NW), the George Washington University favorite, is offering $5 hurricanes and prizes for whoever ends the night with the most beads. Hours: 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Admission: free.

• Nearest to the Capitol is the Ugly Mug (723 Eighth St. SE), which will offer music by DJ Strawberry Shortcake as well as $3 Captain Morgan Lime Bites, $4 Magic Hat Mardi Gras drafts and $5 Sailor Jerry’s Hurricanes. Hours: 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Admission: free.

When You Need to Dance 

• At Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.), the award-winning, D.C./Baltimore-based band Junkyard Saints will blend funk, swing, Latin, rhythm and blues, and Creole zydeco music in a raucous New Orleans-style concert. Partygoers with two left feet can relax in the Mezz Gallery overlooking the 3,000-square-foot dance floor. Admission includes free Mardi Gras beads and a complimentary slice of king cake from Heidelberg Bakery. Wine, beer and refreshments will be available at the bar. Hours: 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission: $12 for students and seniors; $15 for general admission.

• The Mystick Krewe of Louisianians will host its celebrated Mardi Gras parade at LIV Nightclub and RNR Bar & Lounge (11th and U Streets NW) at 8 p.m., amid a host of other activities. Food, music, beads, masks and prizes will be plentiful, and a costume contest will round out the night. Hours: 6:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Admission: $10 advance; $15 at the door.

• To the tunes of DJ Tektronics and DJ NV, the Lima Lounge (1401 K St. NW) will allow revelers ages 18 and older to celebrate Fat Tuesday. Those over 21 can enjoy $5 Stolis and Red Bulls and $3 Bud Lights. Hours: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission: $20; free passes available online.

• Live zydeco music, masks and beads get the party started at Red Derby (3718 14th St. NW), a Columbia Heights favorite. At $3, Red Derby’s hurricanes are the cheapest Louisiana favorite on this list.  Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission: free. 

• The 10th annual Bourbon Street Bash returns to Rumors (1900 M St. NW) with beads, masks, face painting and a New Orleans feast featuring red beans and rice, jambalaya and gumbo. The Higher Hands will play live music, and the bar will offer beat-the-clock drink specials on Coors Light and Blue Moon. If that isn’t enough, partyers can try their luck at a hot-wing-eating contest. Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight. Admission: $5 in advance.

• Start the night off at Town Tavern (2323 18th St. NW) for the Beads, Babes and Beers party with a $15 Keg-n-Eggs special until 7 p.m. Hurricanes are 2-for-1 all night, but after 7 the bar will sell $2 domestic bottles and mixed rail drinks. Starting at 10 p.m., it will offer $2 domestic pitchers, Jell-O shots and kamikazes. Whoever ends the nights with the most beads receives his bar tab free. Hours: 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission: $5 after 7 p.m.

Focus on the Food 

• At Acadiana (901 New York Ave. NW), diners can enjoy crawfish jambalaya and rabbit etouffee with a four-course $50 prix fixe menu in the dining room. The bar will have $5 specialty cocktails, including Category Five, Louisiana Tea, Basil Belle, Pimm’s Cup and Pontchartrain Punch. They’ll also have a host of New Orleans street fare, including house-made cracklin’ crawfish bread, popcorn shrimp and frog legs. Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Admission: free. 

Bayou (2519 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) will end a weeklong Mardi Gras celebration with another night of live music, $15 beer buckets and $5 hurricanes. Every Abita purchased gets revelers a raffle ticket and the chance to win a trip for four to New Orleans. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission: free. 

Café Atlántico (405 Eighth St. NW) will host a special Brazilian Carnaval, offering a three-course prix fixe menu for $50. After a samba performance, ZezehBrazil will start a dance party at 9:30 p.m. Hours: 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission: free, but reservations are required.

• D.C.-area jazz quartet Laissez-Foure will take the stage at six at Central Michel Richard (1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). Along with seasonal beads and holiday decor, the restaurant will offer specialty menu items such as fried oysters with caviar Creole remoulade, Rose’s gumbo, trout po’ boy and beignets. The restaurant will also serve Crescent City cocktails, such as Sazeracs, Vieux Carres, Cyclones, Hurricanes and Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Co.’s Mardi Gras Bock Ale. Hours: 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Admission: free. 

Fish Market (105 King St., Old Town Alexandria, Va.) will host its Fat Tuesday Blowout Bash to the live sounds of DC Motors. In addition to a menu of seafood gumbo, steamed catfish, jambalaya, shrimp etouffee and fried catfish po’ boys, the restaurant will sell Mardi Gras masks to benefit research on multiple sclerosis. Hours: 8 p.m. to midnight. Admission: free.

• For its grand Venetian Carnevale, La Tomate Italian Bistro (1701 Connecticut Ave. NW) will offer Venetian aperitivo, a prosciutto bar, entertainment and a four-course traditional Venetian meal by Chef Vincenzo Belvito. His menu features scallops, wild-boar sausage, baked baby artichokes, veal liver, duck breast and traditional Carnevale desserts. Access to the bar, with $5 specialty cocktails, is free. The bistro will also award prizes to the most authentic and elaborate masks, to be judged by a panel of prominent Italian-Americans. Hours: 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Admission: $75 tickets available online. 

The Fun Continues 

• To the tunes of Mike Flaherty’s Dixieland Direct Jazz Band, the Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St. NW) will host a street procession and crown a king and queen of Mardi Gras. It will also serve jambalaya, red beans and rice, and king cake with a cash bar. Hours: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission: $15 for adults; $5 for children under 12. RSVP at 202-347-2635.

• Thanks to the Snowpocalypse, last year’s Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade (on Baron Street toward Highland Street and Clarendon Circle) was held on St. Patrick’s Day. Recognizing the merits and realizing how close the two holidays fall on this year’s calendar, organizers decided to throw a joint parade again this spring. The parade features a strange mix of New Orleans and Ireland-themed floats, live music, beads and animals in costumes. Hours: Starts at 8 p.m. Admission: free. 

• Dance the night away at the Glen Echo Park Spanish Ballroom (7300
MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md.) to the sounds of Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners. After a zydeco dance lesson, cut a rug with revelers of all ages. The party will also offer beads and door prizes. Hours: dance lessons at 8 p.m.; dancing from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission: $15.

• Inspired by Mardi Gras, the Law Library of Congress (Coolidge Auditorium, Jefferson Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE) will preview “Father Chief Justice,” a play by Louisiana State University law professor Paul Baier about the Supreme Court’s ninth chief justice, Edward Douglass White. Audiences can experience a “veritable New Orleans-style jazz funeral” and see Cpt. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. face death in the Valley of Antietam or White deliver his “Voice of the Fireside” at the Willard Hotel. Hours: 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission: free, but RSVP to Tynesha Adams at 202-707-5065.

• Celebrate the last day before Lent at National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW) with pancake races after the noon Eucharist on the west grounds of the cathedral. Staff, school students, clergy and others will participate in races such as the Gargoyle Gallup and the Saterlee Special, hoping to win the grand prize — the Golden Skillet. Hours: Starts at 12:30 p.m. Admission: free. 

• At Washington Highlands Library (4037 S. Capitol St. NW), children from ages 12 to 17 can enjoy the library’s teen Mardi Gras celebration, making masks, tasting New Orleans snacks and enjoying zydeco music. Hours: Starts at 6:30 p.m. Admission: free.

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