People have their own evening routines when visiting the French Quarter. There are the jumbo-beer-fisted NOLA weekenders who troll for unrepentant revelry on Bourbon Street. They ultimately seek out a Lucky Dog pushcart for gluttonous midnight feedings, often learning the slippery perils of uniting leather-soled loafers with mustard drippings, puddled rainwater, and the burnished cobblestones of Pirate's Alley.
Others may begin with a quiet creole-inspired dinner of wild duck and chorizo roulade in the brick and palm-graced patio at Bayone, or with the crusted gulf fish and crabmeat with jalapeño hollandaise in the romantic dining room of the Pelican Club. After dinner, many folks land at Preservation Hall, sitting cross-legged on a floor cushion at an arm's length from a tarnished, quivering trombone slide.
And some are content to dedicate their evening to classic Sazeracs and a stool at Bar Tonique on Rampart, the street where generations of married, well-to-do Creoles parked their chauffeured carriages to visit faithful quadroon mistresses in their 'kept' cottages.
Others venture beyond the Esplanade Avenue eastern border, into the Marigny and the sultry cloud of cigarette smoke and sweet blues at the swinging Spotted Cat Music Club.
Regardless of one's French Quarter agenda, many merrymakers believe that at night's end, all Vieux Carré banquettes lead to the French Market. America's oldest public market, clinging defiantly to the baseboard of the levee, is home to Café du Monde - 24 hour purveyor of chicory-kissed Café au lait and warm beignets...the sweet, pillowy, sugar-dusted donuts that make a gratifying bookend to a night in the quarter.
Beignets are served throughout the world, but somehow all come up short when compared to the flawlessly satisfying, fried threesome served hot and golden at Café du Monde. What makes them so good? Is it the local water? The oil they use for deep-frying (cottonseed oil)? The variety of rye flour (which they keep a secret)? Some swear it's nothing more than the setting of the city - unlike any other in the country.
Can delicious beignets be found in Los Angeles? No, but a few spots are trying their best.
A downtown monster of a space (where Brooks Brothers sold suits for a half century) at 7th and Grand - a triumvirate restaurant, bar and bakery that serves 16,000 guests every week. Despite vaulted ceilings there's a profound, perpetual din - servers have undergone specific training to reduce clanking while carrying plates. Beignets come in fours and served with raspberry compote. Also offered with a chocolate hazelnut filling. Nontraditional versions of beignets, yet pretty tasty.
700 S. Grand Avenue
Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts
Native Angeleno Bob Tusquellas grew up working in his family's meat market in the Original Farmers Market. Today, he owns both the fresh-fish market Tusquellas Seafood and since 1970, this donut shop at The Farmers Market. Not Café du Monde quality, but you can't beat the Market's atmosphere.
6333 W. 3rd Street
The Gumbo Pot
Another Farmers Market spot serving beignets. Authentic Louisiana dishes include mufflettas and a huge selection of Po' Boys to go with the gumbos. Their alligator tail filet is rolled in cornmeal and deep fried. Quality of beignets is on a level with Bob's.
The Beignet Truck
A mobile interpretation of the beignet with its heart in the right place - The owner of the truck, after just one visit to New Orleans and Café du Monde, embarked on a mission from God to bring the donuts to Southern California. Serves nothing but beignets, coffee (with chicory), and hot chocolate. Also offers beignets with a cinnamon dusting in place of powdered sugar, as well as flavored 'dips.' Decent beignets but they won't have you whistlin' Dixie.
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen
French Quarter architecture and cuisine in Downtown Disney. Open-air courtyard and 'jazz balcony' are all part of a charming (albeit manufactured/Disney) setting. Beignets are as close to the real thing as you can get in Southern California, and the authentic Southern dishes shouldn't be overlooked, particularly shrimp and grits. Get beignets to-go at an adjacent shop.
1590 South Disneyland Drive
Downtown Disney District