This past weekend, the first of Carnival 2024, was marked by long lines for king cakes at the annual King Cake Hub and Dong Phuong Bakery on Saturday, January 6. Brand new Bayou St. John bakery, Nolita, which had previously garnered a following for its king cakes as a pop-up, sold out of them within an hour of its grand opening. It’s safe to say king cake fever has hit New Orleans harder than ever, a sentiment that seems to ring true with each new year.
It makes sense, then, that every Carnival season brings new ways for residents to get their fix: King Cake Hub started up in 2018, while King Cake Connection, a pop-up that convenes king cakes by Black-owned businesses, was born two years ago. This year brings the first-ever King Cake Drive-Thru, which debuted at 1009 Metairie Road over the weekend.
The drive-thru was founded by Mike Graves, who owns Bof Bars, an ice cream and frozen treats vendor that sells custom pints and novelty items like ice cream chicken leg pieces at local festivals like Fried Chicken Fest. Graves says part of the point is to provide a platform for up-and-coming bakers and businesses without a storefront, mixed with some well-known bakery names. For example, there’s Kimi Bakes, which sells king cake cream puffs made with a crispy choux pastry shell. Kimi participated as a vendor at the Frozen Sweets Fest this past summer, which Graves organized.
There’s also Paw Paw’s Donuts, a popular farmers market vendor who is selling a brioche pull-apart style king cake this year. Dough Nguyener’s, a year-old Gretna bakery with one of the most popular new king cakes on the market, is on board, as is the aforementioned Nolita Bakery. Then there are some standbys, favorites like Bywater Bakery, Gambino’s Bakery, and Bittersweet Confections.
“We tried to curate a list of some of our favorite king cakes with some bakers who’ve been around for a long time, and some exciting and new smaller bakers,” Graves tells Eater. While some cakes will be available every week, other items will rotate in and out. For opening weekend, these vendors’ king cakes were available at the drive-thru:
Caywood And Randazzo’s Bakery
Nola Cookie Co.
Paw Paw’s Donuts
Coming up this season, says Graves, is a crawfish king cake from Clesi’s, a cheesecake king cake, ice cream king cakes, boudin king cakes, and more. The best way to find out what’s on the menu each weekend is via Instagram. For the many New Orleans ex-pats living in Houston, another King Cake Drive-Thru pop-up location is in the works there for later in the season.
King Cake Drive-Thru, located at the Duckworth Tires parking lot at 1009 Metairie Road, is open Friday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (or until sold out) throughout the Mardi Gras season.