A celebration as big as Mardi Gras deserves more than just one day. I mean, who can resist hearty and spicy fare when temperatures plunge below zero? Here's where you can kill two birds with one stone: beat the cold and celebrate Mardi Gras in style.

A celebration as big as Mardi Gras deserves more than just one day. I mean, who can resist hearty and spicy fare when temperatures plunge below zero? Here's where you can kill two birds with one stone: beat the cold and celebrate Mardi Gras in style.

Creole Kitchen (King-Lincoln)

Chef Henry Butcher was one of the first to bring authentic Cajun and Creole cooking to Columbus. The Louisiana native learned his craft in New Orleans, although he's been cooking at Columbus restaurants for decades. He opened Creole Kitchen in 2006 and began "educating" Columbus with po-boys, blackened catfish, crawfish etouffee, fried gator and Eggs Basin Street (his version of eggs benedict). Creole Kitchen operates as a carryout for now, but Butcher is expanding into a full-service restaurant soon.

Da Levee (Short North / Gahanna)

Da Levee's two locations serve up "Roux, Stews and Brews." Regulars know you can always check "Da Board" on Facebook before heading over. The chalkboard menus list the day's offerings, and there's not a bad choice among them, like black bean maque choux, cheesy etouffees, jambalaya and more - all served with heavily buttered and spiced "magic bread." You can also dig into a po'boy or roll it all together in a po'burrito. The Short North store has a full bar, too, while Gahanna is geared more toward carryout.

J. Gumbo's (Downtown / Campus / Gahanna / Polaris / Delaware)

The five J. Gumbo's spots around greater Columbus are easy choices for a hearty lunch or dinner, from their thick and spicy gumbo, to the peppery Cajun white bean chili, to simple red beans and rice with smoked sausage. Like most Cajun/Creole joints, J. Gumbo's makes it easy to place a full order or - for those who can't decide - pair two half orders of house specials.

Yat's Cajun Creole (Grandview)

The Columbus franchise of Yat's opened up late last year on Grandview's main drag. The menu covers all the basics and covers them well: etouffee laden with chili cheese, crawfish or chorizo; drunken chicken; and maque choux (braised corn and veggies) with chicken. Yat's also caters to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diners. And it's hard to beat some homemade peanut butter pie to finish.

Gallo's Kitchen (Upper Arlington)

Gallo's combines Italian and Creole cooking on its menu. It begins with bowls of gumbo and rice to fusilli pasta sautéed with Louisiana crawfish, then continues through jambalaya, chicken etouffee and pan-seared fish. Gallo's also emphasizes the importance of sandwiches in Cajun and Creole cooking, from classic po-boys to the muffaletta, a New Orleans signature sandwich made with salami, capicola, mortadella and a tangy olive salad.

Nicholas Dekker writes about breakfast at breakfastwithnick.com and authored the guidebook "Breakfast With Nick: Columbus," with a second edition coming spring 2015. He leads breakfast and brunch tours for Columbus Food Adventures and brewery tours for Columbus Brew Adventures.