It’s understandable that many have developed an almost insatiable need for the occasional dozen Krispy Kremes still hot from the fryer, but there are plenty of reasons why not jumping on the nationally-acclaimed, hot-doughnut bandwagon is a sinfully sweet way to go. Aside from the obvious anti-corporate, community-oriented drive to shop local, there are literally hundreds of perfectly rational explanations as to why you should get your fried dough fix from New Orleans-based purveyors. It took many hours of jelly-filled research, perpetually sticky fingers and 20 extra pounds to narrow down the list to ten, so here they are, in no particular order:
Wink’s World Famous Buttermilk Drop Bakery & Bistro
Because tradition means oh-so much to native New Orleanians, a doughnut establishment that continues to produce the beloved McKenzie’s Buttermilk Drop, a fried doughnut hole dropped in buttermilk icing, is a force to be reckoned with. Although lovers of the Tastee Donuts version may argue (it’s the original McKenzie’s recipe after all), many believe that Buttermilk Drop’s owner Dwight Henry makes a superior hole. Wink’s is located on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, but you can also get Henry’s Buttermilk Drops at his original location at 1781 N. Dorgenois in the famous Treme neighborhood and at 6220 Elysian Fields Avenue in Gentilly.
Blue Dot Donuts
In a situation rife with delicious hilarity, three New Orleans Police officers, Brandon Singleton, Dennis Gibliant and Ronald Laporte, opened Blue Dot Donuts over five years ago and are still going strong. Located on Canal Street near the Carrollton Avenue intersection, Blue Dot’s main claim to fame has been their maple and bacon glazed eclair filled with Bavarian cream, but there’s just no denying the superior texture and quality of their humble, but utterly spectacular blueberry glazed cake doughnuts. That cake brings all the K9s to the yard.
While this Lower Garden District cafe mainly focuses on crafting superior third-wave brews from North Carolina roasters Counter Culture Coffee, they also have a slant for healthy eats specializing in several vegan or vegetarian dishes. But what would coffee be without doughnuts? Enter Rocket Girl Treats, run by baker Diana Eagan who specializes in vegan and gluten-free doughnuts and other pastries featured at HiVolt. If you visit the neighborhood cafe during Mardi Gras, you’ll be lucky enough to try one of her King Cake doughnuts, but in the meantime one can suffer through her Kahlua & Coffee, Chocolate or Banana & Walnut … just to name a few.
Freret Street Po-Boy & Donut Shop
Launched by owner Troy Rhodies in 2009, the Freret Street Po-Boy & Donut Shop was among of the first wave of businesses to open in the corridor after Katrina. Located on the corner of Freret and Valence, the tiny eatery has quickly become popular, even appearing on the Travel Channel’s “Best Daym Takeout” starring YouTube restaurant reviewer Daym Patterson. But do New Orleanians need the Travel Channel to tell them what’s good eats? Puh-lease. We were inhaling their enormous twists and apple fritters as soon as those beauties hit the street. Plus, where else can you get fresh doughnuts and an overflowing fried shrimp po-boy?
If you’re looking for the real thing, a guileless, genuine doughnut shop offering simple, yet exceptional doughnuts, the Baker’s Dozen in Jefferson is definitely it. Only open Tuesday through Sunday till 11am, you’ll want to grab your car keys and get there in a hurry or all of the goodness will be gone. The parking lot is almost always packed and there’s a line out the door but it moves fast and the employees are courteous, accommodating and knowledgeable, helping you find your way to a dozen of their delightful doughnuts before you can say “sprinkles.” Although nirvana can be found in a single glazed, yeast-raised beauty, surprises lurk around their apple-filled, cinnamon-coated doughnuts and the classic chocolate-covered and custard-filled as well.
Noteworthy doughnuts pop up in the most surprising places, such as a new, high-end eatery with a casual atmosphere like Kenton’s. While this New York-style restaurant isn’t the kind of place you can pop into before work to grab a dozen, the incredible talent of their pastry chef likely makes you wish you could. Only offered during weekend brunch, Kenton’s offers the most delightful citrus-glazed, yeast raised doughnut you ever did see … or eat! It just might be the first time you’ve ever enjoyed a doughnut and a shot of Buffalo Trace Bourbon at the same time.
Speaking of shmancy, it would be a crying shame if we didn’t include the stellar doughnut-derived dessert only to be found at Carrollton Market in the Riverbend. Chef Jason Goodenough has already blown us away with his fabulous fried oysters made with Benton’s bacon and Béarnaise sauce, so it should be no surprise to discover a dessert like his Café au Lait Panna Cotta served with three tiny glazed doughnuts, fresh from the fryer and dripping with glaze. The panna cotta is so creamy and rich, you might be tempted to use one of those perfect little doughnuts to dunk, but it might get messy (take it from someone who knows).
Maple St. Patisserie
Pastry Chef Ziggy Cichowski excels at his craft, churning out everything from choice French baguettes and hearty loaves of multi grain to delicate almond croissants and fruit-filled turnovers. One would think, how does he have time to make doughnuts? But he does! Every morning (except Monday), you’ll discover an array of doughnuts from huge apple fritters and crullers to glazed, chocolate frosted and filled. It’s tough to choose only one standout amidst all of Cichowski’s fried dough gems, but his raspberry almond bear claws come awfully close to perfection.
Locals, recent transplants and everyone in between would cry bloody murder if we didn’t include District Donuts.Sliders.Brew, and they’d be right. Easily the most recognizable doughnuts in the whole city, District’s breed are not only huge, but they come in highly unique flavors and everything, we mean everything, is made from scratch. If you follow them on Instagram @districtdonuts, you’ll be bombarded by painfully sweet images of doughnuts with flavors like Irish Coffee, Cookies & Cream, Raspberries & Champagne, Maple Bacon, Peanut Butter Cup, Cuba Libre, Mango Pink Peppercorn, Blackout, Vietnamese Coffee and more. Customers standing agape, dizzied by the sheer creativity in District’s doughnut selection is not an unusual sight. It’s almost easier to choose a few of their fried chicken sliders instead, but we definitely recommend you do both.
Café du Monde
Although technically, beignets aren’t considered doughnuts in the general, American sense of the word, but in New Orleans, they are quintessential. Open almost continuously since 1862 (closed for Christmas Day and the occasional hurricane), Café du Monde could quite possibly be the first and oldest doughnut shop in the country. People come from all over the world to try their beignets, fluffy fried squares of dough made fresh 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, piled high with powdered sugar and served with a cafe au lait made from their special chicory-blend coffee. It just doesn’t get more local than that.
*Article originally published in the May 2017 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
**Wink’s World Famous Buttermilk Drop Bakery & Bistro, Freret Street Po-Boy & Donut Shop, and Kenton’s are closed.