Mardi Gras isn't all boobs and beads. This weekend also calls for lots and lots of New Orleans flavor, from gumbo to Hurricanes and of course, king cake. The treat dates back to the 1700s in French Alabama and Louisiana. The name comes from the three kings (the Christmas ones) because believe it or not, Mardi Gras has to do with Easter. Lucky for us, St. Louis was also founded by those Carnival-celebrating Gauls, so there are king cakes galore for this weekend.
The Sweet Divine (1801 South Ninth Street; 636-942-2900)
What started as a food truck in 2010 is now a full-service bakery in Soulard itself. So of course, it offers delicious king cake cupcakes. It's been on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars twice, but we keep going back because owners Jason and Jenna Siebert have a way with sweets. Plus, these mini versions of the Mardi Gras classic are much easier to share (or stash for an afternoon snack).
Pint Size Bakery & Coffee (3825 Watson Road ;314-645-7142)
Chef Christy Augustin was a pastry chef in New Orleans, so she knows a thing or two about Mardi Gras. Pint Size is offering king cake, cupcakes and Mardi Gras-decorated cookies (masks, fleur-des-lis, etc.). Though a St. Louis native, Augustin baked at the Ritz in New Orleans and Susan Spicer's Bayona. Treats start at just $1.50, so it's easy to laissez les bon temps rouler.
McArthur's Bakery (multiple locations)
McArthur's is a tradition when it comes to Soulard Mardi Gras. Get a wide variety of king cakes, from invididuals for $4.25 to a whole sheet for $69.99, available with strawberry/cheese, raspberry/cheese, caramel/cheese or brownie filling. You can also get cupcakes, sugar cookies, decorated cookies, mask cake, cake pops, petifours, packzi and beignets.
Lubeley's Bakery (7815 Watson Road, Webster Groves; 314-961-7160)
Lubeley's is another STL classic, serving Webster Groves for several generations. Choose from king cakes in chocolate, butter pecan, strawberry and cinnamon. There's also Hurricane cupcakes, muffaletta, Louisiana Cajun bread, decorated cookies and more. You can order king cakes online here.
La Patisserie Chouquette (1626 Tower Grove Avenue; 314-932-7935)
You didn't think our best bakery of 2013 was going to sit this one out, did you? Simone Faure worked in New Orleans with her pal Christy Augustin, too. King cakes will be available on Mardi Gras (Tuesday, not Saturday) for $25 each. You can get traditional cinnamon or one with an apple and cheese filling.
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