10Best New Orleans Beignets: fried goodness with sugar on top
By Kristopher Neild
Palm Beach / West Palm Beach Local Expert
In New Orleans, there isn’t another sweet better loved than a beignet, fresh fried dough served with a healthy dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Although many cultures adore fried dough – think churros in Mexico, fritters in the UK and zeppole in Italy – the French beignet is the treat of choice in New Orleans, a throwback to the city’s French roots.
Brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists, beignets were adapted into the evolving Creole diet, sometimes spiked with bananas or plantains, both popular imports in this port city.
In the French Quarter, Café du Monde is the gold standard when it comes to beignets, fresh fried in the original French Market location since 1862. The Café’s menu is short and sweet: dark-roasted coffee with chicory, served black or au lait with steamed milk, beignets, white and chocolate milk, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. It’s a common sight to see folks sitting along the river walk, clouds of powdered sugar giving their breakfast of choice away.
Beignets are adaptable, with fried dough working as well as a savory vehicle as a sugary treat. Creative New Orleans chefs are known to incorporate cheese, seafood and duck debris into the fried goodness. However enjoyed, beignets are a must-eat when you visit and stay in the Crescent City.
9 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)
8 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)
7 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)
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. Cafe Beignet never feels as rushed and hectic as Cafe du Monde (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 visit location for most tourists who venture to the Big Easy. The cafe features a sprawling outdoor patio where diners are served cafe au lait and delicious French doughnuts - sans hole. People watching is fun here - you see all kinds - both wandering by and waiting in the line that usually forms when the city is busy. Cafe du Monde has locations across the lake and in the 'burbs, but this is the original and the best. (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.