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King cakes and crawfish: How to celebrate Mardi Gras in ATX

Just one more day to get king cakes! (Sawyer & Co.)

Though the original Mardi Gras may be across state lines, Austinites are bringing the celebration to the Lone Star state.

On March 1, Mardi Gras celebrations will commence the day before Ash Wednesday, marking a rich celebration before fasting season and Lent begin. Though the centuries-long tradition includes crawfish, parade floats and colored beads in New Orleans, you can still find a taste of one of the biggest parties in the U.S. near you.

Here's where you’ll be able to get your taste of Mardi Gras magic.

​The Boat ATX | 10931 Stonelake Blvd.

Laissez les bons temps rouler with The Boat ATX’s Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday. Drink specials, a Louisiana-style crawfish boil, gumbo and live performance by Gumbo Ya Ya, known for its New Orleans-inspired groove, from 7-10 p.m. await.

​Mardi Gras at Dreamland Dripping Springs | 2770 US-290

Celebrate Fat Tuesday in true New Orleans fashion in the heart of the Hill Country with Mardi Gras food, drink specials, throws and beads. The party kicks off on Tuesday with an all-acoustic performance from the Hill Country Ramblers at 5 p.m. before giving the stage over to The Time of the Night Brass Band at 7 p.m. If you can’t make the Tuesday night party, Dreamland Dripping Springs is going to re-up the celebration on Saturday with a pickleball tournament, more drink specials and an all-day party.

​Gumbo Cookoff at The Good Shepherd Episcopal School and Parish Life Center | 3201 Windsor Rd.

If you prefer to spend your Mardi Gras enjoying some grub, The Good Shepherd Episcopal School is holding its annual gumbo cookoff, complete with jambalaya courtesy of Parish’s Chef Robert, king cake, pancakes and crafts for the kids. Tickets run $10 for adults and free for children. The event is still looking for cooks to volunteer by the end of Feb. 28 and the event runs from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday.

​King cakes at Sawyer & Co. | 4827 E Cesar Chavez St.

Though typically eaten on Jan. 6 to commemorate three wise men visiting baby Jesus after his birth, the historical pastry stays on tables through Mardi Gras. Known for its New Orleans flavors and Texas hospitality, Sawyer & Co. is accepting orders for its flaky, cream cheese-frosted pastry through March 1.

​Mardi Gras at Whisler’s | 1816 E 6th St.

To surround yourself with crawfish boils and brass bands, head over to East Austin's Whisler’s for a Fat Tuesday to remember. The celebration will begin after the bar opens at 2 p.m. with king cakes galore and tunes from the Boss Street Brass Band from 7-10 p.m. Cover is free!

Laissez les bons temps rouler, or, let the good times roll!


‘Like speed dating of cats’ at Purr-fecto Cat Lounge
Purr-fecto Cat Lounge

Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.

“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”

Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.

“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”

Austin's 7 Best Indian Restaurants

We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.

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