Fried crawfish mac 'n' cheese balls (left) and king cake bread pudding (right) are just two of the Mardi Gras-inspired dishes you'll find on Fat Tuesday at Royal Oak.

So you're not making it to Mardi Gras this year. Hey, we get it: you're, like, a grown-up and you have grown-up obligations like work and not leaving your kids with strangers for a few days while you party until you achieve Zen-like states of inebriation in New Orleans. For those of us staying put in Houston, there are still Mardi Gras parties galore, such as this Sunday's Mardi Gras on Main Street downtown and the Fat Tuesday Takeover coming to Royal Oak on February 17.

Fat Tuesday Takeover with Bravado Spice Co.
Feb 17, 4 pm
$7-$14 per dish
Royal Oak
1318 Westheimer Rd.
royaloakhouston.com

MasterChef fans will remember James Nelson for his run on season four of the competitive cooking show (which fellow Houstonian Christine Ha won the season prior), while hot sauce fans may be more familiar with the company he founded with partner Jeremiah Tallerine, Bravado Spice Co., which has consistently won awards for its inventive sauces (the blueberry-ghost pepper is our personal favorite). Even if you've never heard of Nelson, you'll want to pay attention to the pop-up menu he and his team have planned for their Fat Tuesday Takeover at Royal Oak, where the Bravado guys have been hosting occasional pop-up dinners since 2013.

Starting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nelson and the Bravado Spice guys will be serving fried crawfish mac 'n' cheese balls, boudin burgers with remoulade, voodoo wings with Creole hot sauce butter, red beans and rice with that delicious blueberry-ghost pepper sauce, king cake bread pudding, beignets with pineapple-habanero hot sauce (another in the Bravado Spice Co. lineup), and much more. And in addition to Royal Oak's regular list of wine, beer, and cocktails, look for special Fat Tuesday creations from the Bravado Spice guys including a Black Barrel Sazerac made with Jameson Black Barrel.

The pop-up menu will be served until the food runs out, so get to the popular happy hour spot on Lower Westhiemer earlier rather than later if you want to get your fill of the Mardi Gras festivities. Who knows; you might even be able catch a few beads while you're there.

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