This post explains what a beignet is, where you should eat them in New Orleans as well as explaining the different varieties available.
- What is a Beignet?
- 3 Classic Beignet Locations
- Specialty Beignets
- Take a Free Food Tour
- 13 Must-Eat NOLA Foods
- Things to Do in New Orleans
WHAT IS A BEIGNET?
No visit to New Orleans would be complete without indulging in the time-honored tasty tradition of eating beignets and sipping a cafe au lait.
Beignets, the French word for “bump”, are deep-fried pastries, normally served piping hot with powdered sugar on top. They are as synonymous with NoLA as Mardi Gras is.
Most visitors to New Orleans will make a pilgrimage to Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter, but there are many other places in NOLA that serve up these delectable treats in many different variations of sweet and savory.
Variations on the classic beignets are sometimes made only seasonally, so if there is one flavor you want to try, best to check the restaurant's menu or give them a call to see if they are on the menu.
Why don't you join us on our French Quarter Food Tour, where we will show you beignets being made. The tour is free to join and operates on a pay-what-you-wish model.
Quite possibly no other place in New Orleans is as well known for its' beignets, cafe au lait, and chicory as Cafe du Monde.
Chicory is a root of the endive plant which, when ground and added to coffee, adds an almost chocolate-like taste.
Located in the French Market, it is open 24 hours a day/7 days a week, closing only for Christmas and the occasional hurricane.
Lines can get long at peak hours, and tables are “seat yourself”, so heed the locals' advice and sit inside (most visitors are unaware of the indoor seating area, making it easier to snag a table) or visit later in the evening.
For more information on having a great time at Cafe du Monde, read our post Grabbing a Snack at Cafe du Monde. Note: Cafe du Monde is cash only.
TIP: If you're planning to take a tour of New Orleans, it's worth noting that Take Walks offers two outings which include a free beignet from Cafe du Monde.
With 2 locations both in the heart of the French Quarter, Cafe Beignet is a favorite among locals, and a visit to one or both is a must.
In addition to beignets and au lait, they also offer an extensive breakfast and lunch menu.
Read enough reviews, and you will start to realize that there is a rivalry between Cafe Beignet and Cafe du Monde. Many people swear that Cafe Beignet offers the best beignets in New Orleans.
Make sure to visit their website – they offer a printable coupon good for one free cafe au lait!
The Bourbon St location at 311 Bourbon St (map) is open from 8 am-midnight and offers live jazz in the outdoor courtyard. The Steam Boat Willie Jazz Band, a local favorite, takes the stage nightly starting at 6 p.m.
The location on Royal St is housed in a renovated 1800s carriage house and is open from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily. It features both indoor and courtyard seating and offers a great chance to people watch.
Located off St Charles Avenue, in the heart of Uptown, this is an easy stop off the St Charles Streetcar line and not too far from the starting point of our Garden District tours.
Serving pastries, muffins, and other desserts in addition to beignets and cafe au lait, this place is a nice break from the crowds in the French Quarter, and a favorite among locals who live in the area.
Order the chocolate beignets and take a relaxing stroll or streetcar ride.
Open from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday – Thursday and until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
- Sweet Potato Beignets
- Smoked Salmon Beignets and Cinnamon/Banana Beignets
- Carrot Cake Beignets
- Crab and Crawfish Beignets
- Gouda Beignets
For a truly decadent appetizer or dessert, the sweet potato beignets at SoBou are a must!
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, and winner of USA Today's “10 Best Beignets in New Orleans” (September 2015), SoBou offers an impressive menu and a fabulous Sunday Brunch option.
Open 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. - reservations recommended.
Located in the French Quarter, Bayona has mastered the art of taking beignets to the next level with two sumptuous offerings smoked salmon beignets, which make a fabulous starter, and their sweet cinnamon banana beignets for dessert.
Open for lunch and dinner, as well as a special Saturday Light Lunch, reservations are highly recommended and the dress is business casual. The menu does change daily, so a quick call to the restaurant may be a good idea.
Nestled in the Garden District is this quaint 2-story restaurant and bar that specializes in taking Southern Cuisine to a whole new level, including their famous carrot cake beignets. Please call ahead to inquire, as this beignet is not always on their menu.
Open for lunch, dinner, and brunch, as well as private parties, reservations are recommended. As they emphasize using local and in-season produce and goods, their menu changes daily.
This location is not too far from the starting point of our Garden District tours.
Considered one of the best restaurants in New Orleans, Commander's offers an exquisite menu that varies monthly. They make a unique spicy wild crawfish tail beignets that are unforgettable. The menu is seasonal so best you call ahead to see if this flavor is being served.
Commander's Palace is open for Lunch Mon – Fri 11:30 – 1:30, Dinner starts at 6:00, and Jazz Brunch is offered on weekends. Business Attire is required, as are reservations.
Want to walk off these tasty treats? Commander's isn't too far from the starting point of our Garden District tours.
Another great gem on Magazine Street, don't let the name fool you - La Petite Grocery is a full-service restaurant and bar, offering lunch, dinner, and brunch. Be sure to order the blue crab beignets, served with malt vinegar aioli, as a great way to start your meal. Your taste buds will thank you!
Located off of Magazine Street, and in the heart of the Garden District's shopping district, Basin features some of the best seafood dishes in the area, including a very tasty crab and crawfish beignet with remoulade sauce. Open for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week, Basin's is a great way to enjoy a relaxed meal in a casual atmosphere.
This beautiful tavern is nestled warmly right outside the Garden District and specializes n wine service, cocktails, and small plates. Locals are known to gather here for a great drink and Bouligny's signature gouda beignets.
Open from 4 pm-Midnight, Monday – Thursday, and until 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and is an easy cab ride from the French Quarter.
TIP: If you are headed out of town by plane, you will have one last opportunity for tasty beignets. You can find West Beignet in Concourse D of the New Orleans International Airport and they offer hot, fresh, made-to-order beignets!
When you get home and you are craving a little taste of New Orleans? Try one of these recommended recipes for homemade beignets:
- Paula Dean's 5-Star recipe
- Southern Living's easy 4 step beignets
- Recipe to recreate Cafe du Monde's beignets