The Best Places to Celebrate Mardi Gras and National Margarita Day in Philadelphia

Doing my best to not advocate public drunkenness and dangerous drinking doesn’t really work when Mardi Gras’ Fat Tuesday and National Margarita Day Wednesday wind up back to back with each other. So, let’s stick with, at the very least, the not drinking and driving rule. That’s an evergreen. And I should remind those outside of Philadelphia that the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection can get dicey on Fat Tuesday. The details are fuzzy ( I wasn’t there, but I was close) but, in the not-so-distant past (OK, 22 years ago) Philadelphia police cars and copters had to swoop down on South Street as drunks in jokers hats got drunk, broke all of the street business’ windows, and started a riot. That’s what happens when you invite 40,000-50,000 people to South Street and advise them to carouse.

So have fun on Fat Tuesday and Margarita Wednesday, but keep the party polite.

The Twisted Tail – Philadelphia Comfort Food and Charcoal Bistro

The Twisted Tail in Philadelphia’s Head House Square, nestled against historic Society Hill, pours a mean, spirited Sazerac and always has a great, loud selection of local and national live blues bands on its “juke joint” second floor. That’s a party. Period.

The Twisted Tail, 509 S. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA

Chris’ Jazz Café

Chris’ Jazz Cafe owner and chef Mark DeNinno is always ready to roll out the crawfish buckets, gumbo, fried frog legs with Cajun remoulade, a crawfish cheesesteak, some pan-seared catfish, savory crawfish ice cream and house made beignets filled with Mayhall jelly. That’s just a Tuesday for him. On Fat Tuesday, Chris’ Jazz Café starts early at 4 pm with The Hoppin’ John Orchestra, outside, and won’t stop the parade until midnight.

Chris Jazz Café, 1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA

The Fillmore Philadelphia and Nav: The Never Sleep Tour

The only other dynamic POC Canadian rapper and producer NOT named Drake is the best live hip hop party in Philly on Fat Tuesday. Take advantage. Request “Myself.”

The Fillmore Philadelphia, 29 East Allen Street, Philadelphia, PA

Craftsman Row Saloon’s Mardi Gras Pop Up

craftsman row

Jewelers’ Row’s home to the holiday pop up, Craftsman Row Saloon, goes Fat Tuesday mad, I tell you, mad with many merry beads in purple and gold, along with a menu featuring Masquerade Mac & Cheese (a 4-cheese blend with cinnamon, brown and powdered sugar, toasted breadcrumbs and a hot sauce drizzle), a Big Easy Burger (mashed patties topped with old bay fries, American cheese, creole fried shrimp, remoulade and sautéed onions on a martin’s potato roll), and Who Dat Chicken (a King cake, fried chicken breast, honey butter, hot sauce and powdered sugar). Drinks? There’s a King Cake Espresso Martini (vodka, Baileys, Fireball, coffee and cinnamon), Louisiana Hot Honey Margarita (tequila, honey and hot sauce), the Jazz Julep (rum, strawberry and muddled mint) and a Voodoo 75 (made with gin, lavender, lemon and sparkling rose). Ask nice, and maybe Craftsman Row will hang onto that Hot Honey Margarita for one additional night.

Craftsman Row Saloon’s Mardi Gras Pop Up, 112 S. 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA

Rex at The Royal

rex at royal

I know that I told you to stay off South Street, but Rex at the Royal is on the GOOD part of South Street, and besides, Rex’s looks like an old Louisiana parish mansion if you squint. While The War on Drugs’ drummer and resident jazz-bo Charlie Hall provided the entertainment, drinkers can expect a classic Hurricane of rum (many rums), Falernum, orange, lime, cranberry, and homemade grenadine. Rex is serving  The Royal’s King Cake Burger on a glazed King Cake bun, and there’s something called “the Working Lunch”  inspired by sweet Moon Pies and RC Cola, only now made drinkable with Saint Luna Moonshine infused with graham crackers, cacao nibs, and local mushroom, sweetened with Partida Creus MUZ Vermouth and an RC Cola reduction, then topped with a marshmallow. WTF?!

Rex at The Royal, 1524 South Street, Philadelphia, PA

Beck’s Cajun Café in Reading Terminal Market

Beck’s in Reading Terminal Market thinks of Fat Tuesday as a day of giving. They have been selling off King Cake all month – think Philly brand cream cheese mixed with fruit, cinnamon and coffee cake with multi colored icing – and donating 10% of all proceeds to local nonprofits. Keep the charity going on Mardi Gras’ Fat Tuesday and splurge on po’boys, beignets, and other zesty Mardi Gras classics from Beck’s.

Beck’s Cajun Café in Reading Terminal Market, 51 N 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA

Forsythia Mardi Gras with Khyber Pass Pub… a week later

Forysthia’s French as fuck owner and chef Christopher Kearse is moving his Chestnut Street industry chill out sesh’s Night Series of food, films and booze in “a Mardi Gras-themed takeover” to Khyber Pass Pub on Monday, February 27.  Look for friend-chef Nic Macri’s “Red Beans and Funk” vibe on dishes such as Vegan Dirty Rice (smoked shiitake mushroom, rice, vegan sausage, and trinity vegetable) and House-made Smoked Garlic Sausage, Khyber Muffaletta with house-made meats (mortadella, hot capicola, cotto salami), provolone, olive salad, and Sicilian sesame seed loaf. Yipes.

Forsythia Mardi Gras at Khyber Pass Pub, 56 S 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA

Xfinity Live!

I know they held their Mardi Gras Live! party over the weekend, but my guess is  that someone was too drunk to put away the mechanical bull. Ride the wave. Ask for any leftover Grenades and Hurricanes.

Xfinity Live!, 1100 Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19147

National Margarita Day at Grace and Proper

The Italian Market’s new vintage Eurobar, Grace and Proper, celebrates National Margarita Day with but one drink: “If It Ain’t Broke” a classic craft margarita using 100% blue weber agave for only $8. Beverage Director Scott Rodrigue wrote, “We want to offer a classic well-made margarita for our discerning patrons – and ensure quality instead of discounting down to five dollars. None of that well garbage.” DAMN.

Grace and Proper, 941. S. 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA

Celebrate National Margarita Day with Juan Pistolas and El Poquito

Germantown Avenue’s El Poquito has a friend in Juan Pistola’s own, Philly home-based tequila, self-made tequila brand and what a great way to sample their wares than during Happy Hour (and beyond) at their No Libs’ saloon.

El Poquito (8201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Añejo Philly’s Margarita Drink and Meal Special

Añejo Philly along Northern Liberties Restaurant Row, celebrates the big day with National Margarita Day Happy Hour (Blanco, Anejo, Mezcal and Jalapeno drinks) plus $5 tacos on the Chicken Al Pastor, Cauliflower, Pork Carnitas and Crispy Fish tip.

Añejo Philly, 1001 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA

Al Pastor in the Western Suburbs go Margarita Day

Al Pastor is doing a nachos and margarita special, sure, but they’re also doing a special 1800 Coconut Batanga Cocktail, a Skinny CarbLess Marg and a Marg Mocktail.

Al Pastor, 560 Wellington Square, Exton, PA

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and WPPM.org.

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