The best beignets in the Bay Area

Hummingbird Beignets

I’m a huge donut fan. The sweetness of donuts does it for me more than a chocolate chip cookie. And while there are many types of different donuts I like (Krispy Kreme glazed right off the conveyor belt immediately comes to mind), my absolute favorite are beignets. These puffy pastries best served hot with some powdered sugar on top are staples of French and New Orleans culture. So if you’re looking to provide a sweet treat for your next corporate event or wedding, cater from the restaurant that serves the most delicious beignets nearest your event location. I’ve done all the work for you and gone to every place I could find that serves beignets and tried them all myself (it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it). Below are my favorite places to eat beignets in and around the Bay Area. I’ll update this post as new places pop up.

Best Beignets in San Francisco

Just For You Cafe – 732 22nd St., San Francisco, CA 94107

Located just a few blocks from where the new Golden State Warriors arena is going to be built, the Just For You Cafe has been serving the Dogpatch neighborhood quality eats since 2002. Known for their breakfast menu, I went to try the beignets on a Saturday morning. The place was packed with energy.

The beignets are at the top of the regular menu as well as the daily specials.

They serve one kind of beignet, but you can choose to have powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar or chocolate sauce on top. Because one order is for three beignets, I asked that they give me one of each.

The first thing that I noticed when the beignets arrived at my table was how large they were.

They’re much bigger than what you might find at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans or some other beignet restaurants. You can see that they are also very square.

I tried the cinnamon and sugar beignet first and was pleased to see that even though it’s a large beignet, the beignet was actually quite light and puffy.

The cinnamon and sugar was a nice touch and didn’t overpower the flavor of the beignet.

Next up was the beignet with chocolate sauce. The chocolate sauce was a great addition to the beignet because I’m a chocoholic. But it was also interesting to taste a beignet dipped in chocolate.

The outcome…definitely something that I’m going to have to ask for more frequently. This beignet was also very light and fluffy and I liked how there was a touch of powdered sugar on top too.

The traditional beignet was my favorite. As previously mentioned, a huge portion and just enough powdered sugar to give it the sweetness that beignet lovers expect. Nicely done.

Brenda’s French Soul Food – 652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102

This institution is always hopping, but even more so on the weekends. I ended up here on a Sunday and as you can see the line was out the door!

Walking in, I quickly understood why everyone is willing to wait. The place is packed and the vibe in the restaurant is, as my buddy Drew likes to say, ‘crackin’.

As you can see, they’ve got a pretty substantial menu. And on another trip I’ll have to try some of their other stuff.

But today, I was here for the beignets.

For full transparency, I’ve only ever enjoyed a classic beignet at places like Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans or at a place called Huey’s in Atlanta, which is no longer in business.

So when I saw that they served beignet’s stuffed with crawfish, apples, or chocolate, I was a little skeptical.

The plain is just as good as I’ve had a Cafe Du Monde. Super fluffy with a lot of powdered sugar. They nailed this one.

Plain beignet at Brenda’s Soul Food Kitchen on Polk Street

The Granny Smith Apple tastes like an apple fritter, but is WAAAYYY better. The apples have just enough cinnamon mixed in with the tartness of a Granny Smith to make a great flavor combo.

Granny Smith Apple Beignet  

Every time I’m in New Orleans for Jazzfest, I make a point to eat as much crawfish as I can. Whether it’s in an omlet, an etoufee, or a stew, I’m putting it in my belly. So I was excited to try Brenda’s take on the crawfish beignet. In short, this beignet is delicious. There’s a little heat at the end of each bite, but not too much. The crawfish has crazy flavor and is well seasoned. While not the desert beignet, I could definitely have this as a late afternoon snack or meal on it’s own.

Crawfish beignets

I was surprised that the chocolate beignet was going to be my favorite. The best way I can describe the taste is that it’s a combination of eating a plain beignet and a molten chocolate lava in the middle. This beignet is dangerously good as I could’ve totally eaten a few more of these. Nicely done Brenda’s.

Chocolate beignets

Best Beignets in North Bay

The Hummingbird – 57 Broadway, Fairfax, CA 94930

If you’re looking for beignets on your way to Tamales Bay or Point Reyes, make sure to stop by The Hummingbird.

This cajun/southern restaurant located in downtown Fairfax was opened by Michelle Elmore when she and her son decided to move to the Fairfax area after Hurricane Katrina.

An avid photographer of New Orleans culture, Michelle’s restaurant also is very well known for their beignets.

The Hummingbird’s beignets are the closest thing I’ve found to the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. As is common with beignets, one order comes with three beignets.

They’re super light and fluffy and came with mounds of powdered sugar (just the way Cafe Du Monde does it).

These beignets are fried to perfection. Each nostalgic bite reminded me of all of the times that I’ve been to New Orleans, either for Jazzfest or Mardi Gras.

I will definitely be coming back for more.

Best Beignets in Oakland

Powderface – 3411 E. 12th Street, Oakland, CA 94601

This cafe is located right across the street from the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland.

Powerderface Beignets Fruitvale BART StationPowderface Cafe entrance

As you can see from the photos, it’s not a very large cafe but it has a very nice outdoor seating area and you get the feeling that there is a tie to New Orleans from all of the pictures on the walls of people with powdered sugar all over their face. This gives the cafe fun vibe and an incentive for trying the beignets.

powerface wall of new orleans

As you can see from the menu, they offer the plain beignet in servings of 3 or as a dozen served in a box.Powderface menu

What’s fun about Powderface is that you can watch them make the beignets after you’ve ordered them. So you can tell that these are homemade and served with extra care.

Watching beignets being made at Powderface

I showed up to try these beignets with my buddy and fellow Brass Animal Jonathan (he plays sousaphone for us a bunch). We ordered a box of beignets and challenged ourselves to eat all of them in one sitting

.Powderface beignets and coffeePowderface box of beignets

The beignet’s come out hot and with LOTS of powdered sugar (just like I like them). They were light and crisp and very sweet.  As you can tell from the pictures, the beignets are a nice size. I caught myself doing the powdered sugar cough when I inhaled a little too much powdered sugar before bite two (Jonathan got a chuckle out of that). But each beignet was quickly devoured. We ended up only have 2 beignet’s left when we finished our taste test. And you know that you’ve eaten a good beignet when powdered sugar is all over the way (which is most definitely was).

I was pleasantly surprised with how good these beignets were and will definitely stop in for more when I back in the Oakland area. Nicely done Powderface.

Best Beignets in Silicon Valley

CreoLa – 344 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

CreoLA parking lot

If your event or wedding is in or around Redwood City and you want to have beignets at your event, then order your beignets from CreoLa.

Inside of CreoLACreoLA

This restaurant has an awesome vibe with a really cool bar section and a bunch of tables for getting down on some creole food.

Home of the “two bite beignet”, this Creole restaurant makes awesome crawfish etoufee and excellent beignets.CreoLA menuCreoLA crawfish etoufee

The beignets come in an order of 3 and are served with powered sugar, and a side of whipped cream and caramel sauce. These beignets are solid. They’re the smallest in size of any beignet that I’ve found in the Bay Area, but they pack a big punch. If you don’t want a huge helping of beignets, then this is a solid spot to go. The beignets came out hot, were crispy, but had a nice hollow middle. It did not take long to devour this sweet treat and definitely made the cut for making it on my list of favorite beignets in the Bay Area.

CreoLA beignetsCreoLA beignets with powdered sugar

Best Beignets in San Jose

Poor House Bistro – 91 S Autumn Street, San Jose, CA 95110

One of the fun things about searching for the best beignets is finding restaurants that I’d come back to whether the beignets are good or not. And Poor House Bistro is definitely one of those spots. As I pulled into the parking lot, I could hear some killer blues music being played by a local band at Poor House Bistro. So immediately, I knew that this was going to be a fun spot to check out.

Poor House Bistro entrance

What’s cool about Poor House Bistro is  that there are so many different areas to sit that have their own unique vibe. You can sit until their tent and watch the band play the blues or you can sit in the outdoor patio and take advantage of the hot sunny San Jose day. Want to get closer to the smells of Louisiana? Then make sure to sit inside.

When you walk inside, the menus are right at the front and you walk up to a counter, order your food, and get a number. Poor House Bistro Menu

I wasn’t surprised to see that everyone in line was ordering po boys and beignets. So I had to do the same. Ordering Beignets at Poor House Bistro

Since this is a blog post about beignets, I’ll just say that the shrimp po boy is excellent and definitely worth coming back for. But the beignet was the highlight of the meal.

Poor House Bistro BeignetPoor House Bistro Beignet with Powdered Sugar

The beignet was very crispy, had enough substance and volume to make each bite better than the last one, and lots of powdered sugar. It came out nice and hot and was just what the doctor ordered. I’ll definitely be back for more. Are there any Bay Area restaurants or cafes that you like eating beignets at? Write your recommendations in the comments below.

One Comment

  1. Susan

    We love beignets and your choices are spot on! Thanks for the new beignet restaurants we look forward to trying!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>