Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a traditional New Orleans’ celebration of the culmination of Carnival season, on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and Lent. Outside of New Orleans and opulent parades, Mardi Gras indulgences can still be found in Spartanburg!
This year, Fat Tuesday is February 16th, but to accommodate both bakery demand and social-distancing precautions, Mardi Gras will look a bit different this year. Plan your socially-distanced Mardi Gras indulgences early, so you don’t miss out! InTheBurg did the work for you. Here’s all the local details on beignets and chicory coffee, Cajun and Creole cuisine, and where to find those famed purple, green, and gold swirled confections….
Start your day, Cafe Du Monde-style, with hand-fried beignets and chicory coffee at Little River Coffee Bar, (188A West Main St.) Each year, Little River’s kitchen crew teams up with Nola-native Liz Blanchard (of the former Cakehead Bakeshop) to prep, fry, and powder hundreds of these pillowy squares of dough.
This year, to reduce the annual lines wrapping through the cafe, Little River is offering beignet pre-orders for the first time! In previous years, beignets have sold out within a few short hours. Click here to pre-order your beignet trio for pick-up February 16th.
Pair your hot beignets with a cup of Little River Roasting’s chicory coffee blend or a Cafe au Lait, (drip coffee and steamed milk.) Chicory is a root, used historically to “cut” coffee grounds and stretch them longer during coffee shortages. The coffee-chicory blend has a unique woodsy and nutty flavor.
Outside of parade floats and beaded necklaces, King Cakes are one of the most iconic symbols of Mardi Gras! Traditionally, King Cakes are made of cinnamon-flavored dough, covered in sweet gold, green, and purple icing or sugar. Inside, a baby figurine is hidden, with a prize for whoever unwittingly receives that slice. (Click here for more history on when and why babies were hid inside these cakes. And no, the tradition is not related to baby Jesus.)
King Cakes are in demand throughout Carnival season outside Louisiana, so many bakeries accept preorders only.
If you’re looking for a last-minute sweet find, Publix Bakeries and The Fresh Market (1200 East Main St) bake a few King Cakes each day. You can also pre-order your own King Cakes or Tea Cakes at The Fresh Market, by calling (864)573-6527.
After a day full of sweet indulgences, you cannot forget a traditional Cajun and Creole dinner.
Southside Smokehouse (726 South Howard Ave, Landrum) is famous for their Louisiana comfort food and North Carolina-style barbecue.
Their annual Fat Tuesday party will look a bit different this year due to COVID-19 and social-distancing precautions, but the delicious food is guaranteed! A “seated buffet” is available all-day February 16th, both in-person or for carry-out orders. Classics include Shrimp Creole, Fried Catfish, Grilled Andouille Sausage, and Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya.
Indoor seating is limited to 50% capacity, so reservations are encouraged; call (864)457-4581 to inquire.
Or, get creative at home this Carnival season, with a themed Mardi Gras cocktail (get the recipe here) and miniature King Cake Cupcakes (get the recipe here.) Choose your cupcake fillings– of cinnamon, strawberry, or pecan praline cream cheese– and pour a licorice-flavored Ojen Frappé to pair with them.