Mardi Gras. A colorful tradition celebrated throughout New Orleans, inspiring images of beads, costumes, hurricanes (Pat O’Brien’s libation varietal), and of course food. Lots of food. Santa Barbarans can celebrate Fat Tuesday flavors in town on February 5 (after you visit the polls, of course).

The Palace Grill has been a mainstay of Cajun/Creole food since 1985. The Cajun crawfish popcorn is a must to start off the evening. Other favorites to put a little “bam!” in your celebratory soul: crawfish etouffee, Louisiana soft-shell crab, and Louisiana bread pudding souffle.

In 1965, Ruth Fertel spotted a New Orleans restaurant advertised for sale and mortgaged her house to purchase it. The restaurant was a hit and franchising started in 1977. The latest edition to the Ruth’s Chris Steak House family recently opened in La Cumbre Plaza. Sample the barbecued shrimp or Louisiana seafood gumbo, and the Big Easy cocktail or Bourbon Street Manhattan.


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