Louisiana is a familiar destination for most Houstonians. It’s a quick drive (relatively speaking in terms of the size of Texas) and filled with exciting things like casinos, crawfish, gators and, of course Mardi Gras. This past weekend I made my way to Baton Rouge for a Mardi Gras Ball with my boyfriend and some of his LSU friends. Any time we make our way to that city it’s always some version of a victory lap through their favorite college haunts–so take my recommendations with a grain of salt…they’re all authentic, cheap, and generally filled with booze. Sounds like
college Mardi Gras, right?
This year was the second time I’ve attended a Mardi Gras Ball in Baton Rouge, so I came into the city prepared. Here’s your weekend guide to Baton Rouge during Mardi Gras including what I’ve learned and what I can’t wait to do again next year.
Friday night we checked into L’Auberge Baton Rouge Casino & Hotel. Our room was a standard king with a view overlooking the Mississippi River. The bathroom was ah-maaazing with a fantastic shower and, wait for it, TV inside the mirror! When we checked into our room, we were greeted by a cheese plate and drinks compliments of the hotel–so nice! It was too bad that we didn’t have a fridge in the room though because we couldn’t enjoy it all the first night.
Disclaimer: L’Auberge Baton Rouge Hotel provided me a complimentary hotel room during this trip. All opinions are my own.
I was determined to spend some money at the L’Auberge Casino because somehow I’ve never gambled in my life (including when I visited L’Auberge last year for the ball) and wanted to check that off my bucket list. Spoiler: I’ve decided I don’t really like spending money and stopped after losing $20 on roulette. (Note: I’m still bitter about that $5.99 ATM Fee pulling out cash too). Everyone has opinions about the casinos in Baton Rouge–the college students, grads, Uber drivers, etc. But the consensus is all the same, L’Auberge is by far the best in town, so I didn’t mind spending some time there–especially since drinks are free when you’re gambling. And in the wise words of my boyfriend, “scared money don’t make money.” So I might just have to go back and try my luck again.
Afterwards, we headed downtown Baton Rouge for the bars. Note: If you’re looking to stay at L’Auberge, be aware that you’re slightly outside of the city and Ubers can get expensive–especially with surge! We went out on Third Street, which is (thankfully) not where the college students go (find them at Tigerland at favorite bars like Reggie’s and Fred’s). We saw some live music at Boudreaux & Thibodeaux’s and then walked a block up to City Bar Baton Rouge which had a crazy EDM DJ going.
Saturday was a leisurely drinking crawfish themed lunch. We went to Walk On’s Bristreaux & Bar which was filled with LSU fans and ordered many, many pounds of crawfish–tis the season! There was actually a crawfish cook-off going on in the parking lot as well–live DJ and a bunch of teams competing. As a vegetarian, I did not participate, but instead indulged in a very healthy, balanced lunch of their infamous cheese fries. No ragrets. Although we didn’t go, another favorite local spot for crawfish is this little hole-in-the-wall across the bridge in Plaquemine called Crawfish Xpress.
If the weather had been a bit warmer, I would have totally taken advantage of the rooftop pool at L’Auberge. It’s gorgeous and has some adorable cabanas that you can rent. The deck was also lined with strands of lights that I’m should would look gorgeous at night! If I hadn’t been going to the ball, I also would have probably stopped by one of the Mardi Gras parades happening in the city.
Saturday night we prepped for the ball. When shopping earlier, I made sure to find the gaudiest, flashiest, princess dress possible. As I learned last year, these women go all out and there’s no such thing as too much sequin at Mardi Gras. The ball I attended was hosted by the Krewe of Tucumcari, an all-male, invitation-only organization that hosts a Tableau Ball at the River Center in Downtown Baton Rouge two Saturdays before Mardi Gras. For those who have never been, let me tell you–this Tableau Ball is quite an experience. I can’t speak to how other Mardi Gras balls work (and there’s a lot of them out there), but this one is a cross between Halloween, a debutante ball, and a tailgate.
Each family has a table that they deck out according to a theme–this year it was “How the Grinch Stole Mardi Gras” (last year was “Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses”). The tables are fantastic–lights, huge centerpieces, themed place settings, etc. You bring in your own food, so there’s a bunch of coolers lining the walls. Ours were filled with everything from beer, to champagne, Tito’s cocktails, and green/purple/yellow Jell-O shots.
When you arrive, the women are escorted to their seats to watch the Tableau–aka the debutantes making their appearance. The MC announces the Royal Court of debutantes and reads their bio (hobbies, family lineage, GPA, etc.). The women are dressed according to the balls theme. This year they wore elaborate costumes representing Green Eggs in Ham, Horton Hears a Who, and the Lorax. Meanwhile the men hang out in the back, not paying much attention to the performance given their proximity to the coolers of alcohol. After the Tableau ends, the ball turns into a big party with a live band and DJ with lots of dancing. Pro tip: bring flats to change into. Also glow sticks. Shout out to my table for supplying us with a plethora of glowing rings and bracelets. #BestDressedForSure
Sunday is recovery day for sure. And naturally, no Sunday is complete without brunch. After checking out of the hotel, we mozied our way over to Chimes near LSU campus for some Cajun food. Note the wait is quite long on Sundays around 11:30am, so send a sacrificial lamb over to put your name on the list early! If you do find yourself waiting for a table, hop on over to the bar and grab yourself a Bloody Mary (double, not single) or a mimosa (again, double not single). Chimes also servers Canebrake beers, which are brewed with a local sugarcane syrup. I tasted the regular and the Strawberry Canebrake which was also delicious, definitely strawberry flavored, but not overwhelming so. We’ve gone to Chimes two years running post-Mardi Gras ball, but another brunch contender in the area is Louie’s.
If you’re looking for more Baton Rouge ideas, check out Natalie’s guide for Baton Rouge in 24 Hours! Also, stay tuned for Mardi Gras Weekend II as I head to New Orleans for a conveniently timed/located wedding!
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
What’s your favorite part about Mardi Gras season?