10 Best New Orleans Beignets: A light, powdery N'awlins treat
By Kristopher Neild
Palm Beach / West Palm Beach Local Expert
Fritter, fried dough and French market doughnut are words that have been used in place of beignet, a staple foodie item made famous by Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. To locals, beignet is all they will understand.
Mostly served as a dessert and covered with mounds of powdered sugar, the beignet can be eaten with breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or as an after drinking night time munchy. Some crafty New Orleans chefs have filled the beignet with fruits, cheeses and seafood, creating actual appetizers and meals out of the doughy treat.
When asking a local for his/her recommendation on where to find the best beignet in the city, there is a 99% chance their answer will be one of the top three on this list. The chances are almost as high that the recommendation will be Cafe du Monde, which is a legitimate tourist draw that most find time to visit during their vacation to the Big Easy.
The beignets are fried, but if you are vacationing to New Orleans you are assumed to have passed all the necessary cholesterol tests or have deemed them unimportant. Because of how they are made, they are light enough to not leave you feeling bloated the rest of the day. Pairing, and usually dipping them in an authentic cafe au lait (French, coffee with milk) is recommended, as the sugar from the beignet works wonders on the taste of the coffee.
10 Croissant d'Or Patisserie
Croissant d'Or Patisserie is a slight aberration on this list, because they don't actually serve beignets. In fact, there aren't even ten places in the city that serve the powdered French doughnut (many offer non dessert derivations). So, if you're are craving French pastry, and can afford to bypass Cafe du Monde (or if already visited), check out Croissant d'Or Patisserie. They constantly show up on "hidden gem" lists and are known for making the freshest, most delicious croissants in New Orleans. You are able to get the personal touch and service here that may be lacking during busy hours at du Monde. If you're in the city on business, this is a great place to grab a pastry and a cafe au lait while getting some work done (free wi-fi). (504-524-4663)
9 La Petite Grocery
La Petite Grocery leaves the sugary powdered beignets to the Cafe du Mondes of the world, taking its own approach to the beignet. La Petite stuffs their doughy morsels with blue crab and tops them with a savory roumalade. These are a must order appetizer when you visit La Petite Grocery for lunch, dinner or brunch. Positioned on Magazine Street, La Petite is often void of the long wait times associated with other popular local restaurants. If you do find yourself waiting a little bit, you can grab a drink from their innovative cocktail menu and soak in the historic decor of the property. (5048913377)
8 New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co
The New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co. is a cafe that specializes in the prior two menu options. Located in Uptown New Orleans, it is managed by, and adjacent to the New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Company. The coffee and donut portion of their business is relatively new, but has been receiving rave reviews from the patrons that have visited. Many locals feel its blasphemous to speak of or eat a beignet from somewhere outside the "Big 3", so tourists and visitors will continue to have to pave the way and get the good word out about New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co. In Uptown, you have plenty of breakfast options, but nowhere that specializes in cafe au lait or beignets, so this is definitely worth checking out if you're in the area. ((504) 247-9755)
7 Street Car Cafe
The Street Car Cafe, located right of the Canal St./Carondelet St. streetcar stop is one of those less heralded, high quality cafes that are hidden throughout the Crescent City. Serving breakfast all day at extremely affordable prices (including the delicious beignets), this is a great spot to stop before a meeting, or to bring the whole family. If you find yourself out of walking distance to the Quarter and Cafe du Monde, do your legs a favor and hit up Street Car Cafe instead. Besides beignets, their gyros are pretty popular among locals along with some of their other Greek options. ((504) 523-6614)
6 Palace Cafe
Sweet banana beignets served with a classic Foster sauce of brown sugar, butter, rum, cinnamon and banana liquor; the official description of the Banana Foster Beignets crafted specially for Sunday Brunch at the Palace Cafe. This beignet iteration takes it up a notch, incorporating furits and liquor into the traditional French doughnut. Palace is operated on Canal Street, and is part of the Dickie Brennan's restaurant group. Feel free to dress up or dress down and be wowed by the comfort inspiring service of the Palace Cafe staff. (504-523-1661)
5 Bouligny Tavern
At Bouligny Tavern, we broach the first alt interpretation of the beignet. Bouligny, located just outside the Garden District on Magazine Street is famous for their gouda filled beignet. It's like fried cheese, but with the light fluffiness that one comes to expect when ordering a beignet. It is a great starter for any meal or perfect to pair with a tall beer out the tap. The tavern is highly thought of overall as a dining and drinking establishment, having been reviewed highly by the New York Times and Times-Picayune. Chef and owner John Harris opened up this gem in 2010 and has been enjoying success ever since. (504-891-1810)
Coquette, the popular bistro and wine bar offers their own take on the New Orleans classic beignet, and it surely is a doozy. The highlight of the third course of their famous "3 Course $20 Lunch", Coquette's French doughnuts have a more doughy taste than the city's other options. If this bothers you for some reason, you can always pile the sugar on higher. Unlike Cafe du Monde, Coquette is more of a legitimate restaurant, and the menu contains a full slate of delicious food options. It's located in the midst of the famous Magazine Street shopping district. (504-265-0421)
3 Morning Call Coffee Stand
Less than ten miles away from downtown New Orleans in the suburb of Metarie is where Morning Call Coffee Stand calls home. Morning Call actually got its start in the French Quarter on Decatur Street in 1870, where it thrived on producing authentic cafe au lait and the sugary French market donuts known as beignets. Theirs (like the two prior on this list) are hand rolled and cut before being plunged into hot oil. What emerges is a light, delicate treat topped with powdered sugar that is sure to leave both clothes and face a tasty mess. Some knock Morning Call for fleeing the French Quarter and taking up shop in a strip mall in the suburbs. Those haters are in the minority, as most clamor the 24 hour nature of Morning Call, and secretyly whisper that the coffee and beignets are better than Cafe du Monde's. ((504) 885-4068)
2 Cafe Beignet
Cafe Beignet, with locations on Bourbon and Royal Streets in the French Quarter is the clear number two to Cafe du Monde as far as beignets go. Though it's tough to determine much variance between fried pieces of dough covered with sugar, part of the experience of eating one has to do with the atmosphere. Cafe Beignet is less hastey than Cafe du Monde; you don't really ever feel rushed or hurried when dipping your beinets. Their coffee is regularly said to be better than du Monde's, and can be easily accessed from the party/shopping scenes of Bourbon and Royal. (504-525-2611)
1 Café du Monde
Cafe du Monde is the beignet mecca of New Orleans and number one of "The Big 3" on this list. Situated in the heart of the French Quarter, Cafe du Monde is a "must hit" location for most tourists who venture to the Big Easy. The cafe features a sprawling outdoor patio where diners are served quickly their cafe au lait and delicious French doughnuts. People watching is fun here, as many variations of human beings frequent the Quarter, and the line going into Cafe du Monde. Since most would recommend this establishment as the place to go (in the World) for beignets, the line to get in is often long, especially on weekends. They are open 24/7, so be cognizant when picking a time for your visit. (504-525-4544, 800-772-2927)
About Kristopher Neild
Kris is a South Florida resident, living close to the coast in West Palm Beach. The area lets him delve into his vices - beaching, bar-hopping and baseball. Besides writing about travel & leisure, he is a CFA candidate, hoping to pen an investment newsletter sometime in the future.
Read more about Kristopher Neild here.