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Let the good times roll at area Mardi Gras celebrations

If you ever needed a reason to party (your job, relationship, politics, general winter malaise), Mardi Gras gives you a good reason to do it. Fat Tuesday (Feb. 28) officially marks the end of Mardi Gras in New Orleans — a day to eat and drink to excess before Lent begins.

If you can't make it to the Big Easy, here are some local places to you can, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" — let the good times roll until then:

Dick & Jenny’s (270 Baseline Road, Grand Island) will host its annual Mardi Gras celebration starting Feb. 23. It will continue until Fat Tuesday with live music from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 23-25, and Feb. 28. (The restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays). Beads and those wicked hurricane drinks will be part of the equation.

Owner Jennifer Benz said they will be dishing up New Orleans faves like fried oysters with southern slaw and tarragon tartar; crawfish Andouille cheesecake with smoked shrimp and Tabasco butter; blackened delta catfish with sweet potato grits; greens and barbecued shrimp; southern fried chicken; crab Rockefeller crepes with spinach, artichoke hearts and hollandaise; crispy duck confit with cornbread rice dressing and red eye gravy; gumbo; jambalaya with smoked sausage; Po-boys, crab cakes and fried green tomatoes with remoulade.

Once again Toutant (437 Ellicott St.), will celebrate on Feb. 27, with its Lundi Gras celebration (the restaurant is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Chef owner James Roberts tells us specials run all night, starting with $5 frozen French Quarter daiquiris, hurricanes, beer and shot specials, and for those who have a sick day to burn, a traditional Bourbon Street “hand grenade” style cocktail, meaning lots of booze.

On the Lundi Gras menu will be tried and true N'awlins cuisine — seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice — in addition to Toutant’s regular southern menu. It will be available during regular dining hours from 5 to 10 p.m., and for the late-night menu, which begins at 10 p.m. King cake will be available for dessert as well as carnival beads for guests to wear. Costumes are encouraged.

Rock Bottom's The Raging Cajun Burger is a half-pound burger blackened Cajun style and grilled then topped with bacon, creamy blue, lettuce and tomato. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News file photo)

Rock Bottom Kitchen & Bar (6261 Transit Road, East Amherst) will serve two-for-one hurricanes, $2 Bud Light drafts and Mardi Gras shots as well as homemade gumbo on Fat Tuesday. There's a Ragin' Cajun burger on the regular menu that we think would pair nicely with a hurricane. Beads and zydeco music are on tap, too.

Chester’s Cajun Grill (9416 Transit Road, East Amherst) will host its annual Fat Tuesday party. Its regular menu already highlights Cajun/creole influenced items like a blackened Cajun burger, voodoo chicken bites served with Cajun remoulade sauce and a wide selection of ragin’ Cajun po’ boys. You can't go wrong with whatever you decide to eat.

The blackened shrimp dinner is a popular dish at Chester’s Cajun Grill. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News file photo)

Gigi’s Cucina Povera (981 Kenmore Ave.) hosts its usual party on Fat Tuesday with a special menu and live music from Nelson Starr from 7 to 10 p.m. The food includes a rabbit and sausage gumbo (funny with Easter on the way), oysters done two ways (Rockefeller style or cornmeal fried) and Cajun catfish, shrimp and grits and seafood jambalaya for entrees.

A muffuletta sandwich will also be served. Classic crème brulee, bananas foster and bourbon bread pudding round out the menu. Wash it all down with a hurricane cocktail. Reservations recommended.

The Thin Man Brewery (492 Elmwood Ave.) will host a party starting at 2 p.m. on Fat Tuesday for all you day drinkers. Muffulettas, gumbo and beads will be part of the fun along with jazz by Sam Marabella.

Mark your calendar: A Mardi Gras-esque event that celebrates the end of lent and Dyngus Day in one fell swoop. Pils, Pierogi & Polka will be held 1 to 5 p.m. April 15 at Flying Bison (840 Seneca St.). So party, then hop on home to fill Easter baskets.

For $20, visitors get two beer tickets, Ru’s pierogi and kraut, Mazurek’s paczki and three hours of polka music by Those Idiots.

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