The wheelchair ramp leading to the front door of Mardi Gras Grill was packed with people, waiting to get in the small bar and restaurant on Tuesday evening.
The bar was so packed that the options were to wait for a table with the people outside on the ramp, elbow through the crowd to the bar, or wait in a short line to order at the spot where waitresses and waiters shuttle drinks from the bar to the people who had already secured a table.
It seemed that people in Houston really love Fat Tuesday.
Before heading to Mardi Gras Grill, we searched for a place, other than something like Shuck Daddy's or Ragin Cajun, where we could check out a Mardi Gras happy hour. We called The Big Easy and, randomly, Under the Volcano, to see if those bars were doing anything special for Fat Tuesday. No, we were told by each, nothing special.
In fact, when we called Mardi Gras Grill, located at 1200 Durham Dr., just north of Washington Avenue, the bartender told us that nothing special was going on there, either. Just the regular weekday happy hour. We decided to check it out anyway, simply for its name.
After a couple hours at the bar, we realized a bunch of other people had the same idea.
"I'm not sure, we've never been here before," a woman still dressed in business garb told us when we asked her what the place was like on a normal night. One of her friends was wearing a headband with two small Mardi Gras masks on top, and the women were later seen crammed up a against a wall drinking beer.
Tuesday was our first trip to the Mardi Gras Grill, and it seemed like a cool place. A woman told us that the crawfish were great there on most nights, but on Tuesday she ordered 10 pounds and got what seemed about half that much.
"Night and day, it's nothing like this," a waiter told us about normal nights at the restaurant. He added that Fridays and Saturdays can get packed when they have crawfish, but not close to what it was like Tuesday.
Most of the waiters, waitresses and bartenders wore Mardi Gras beads, but we're not sure how excited they were about it. After ordering a margarita and a beer, we asked the beaded bartender what was the special for the night.
"Those are," she told us.
When we asked the price, she said, "I don't know."
She was obviously too busy to chat about drink prices, so we muscled our way back through the crowd without dropping a drink. (We did have a beer bottle knocked from our hand later that night while standing at the bar.) When we reached an open space, a large man wearing beads walked up and stood next to us.
"Did you come here special for Fat Tuesday?" we said.
"No, my boy just brought these so I put them on," he said. "I'm waiting for that woman to move so I can get back to my seat, but I'm not sure I'll fit."
Happy hour at Mardi Gras Grill runs 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Domestic beers are $2.25, well liquor and frozen margaritas are $3, and Hurricanes are $3.75.