It's the most wonderful time of the year— Carnival, aka King Cake Season. The traditionalists flock to the brioche-based, ring-shaped cake laced with cinnamon, covered in icing and purple, green and gold sugar, with a plastic baby hidden inside. However, these days the daring gobble up local versions of the tradition that have banana, goat cheese, peanut butter, boudin, bacon, and the like.
Whichever side of the divide you sit on (much like sidewalk side or neutral side), Eater presents the hottest king cakes in New Orleans right now.
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The sweets boutique on Magazine Street (and also in Lakeside Mall) not only has king cakes with shiny, almost airbrushed-looking icing over buttery pastry filled with cream cheese, they also sell king cake macarons for Carnival too.
Oh, yes they do have king cakes, and in mini sizes perfect for two bacon friends to share. Minis come in cinnamon; cream cheese; and strawberry; the full-size "Elvis" is filled with peanut butter, banana and topped with house-cured bacon topped with marshmallow. Each cake includes a baby piggy.
In terms of King Cake, the ubiquitous Rouse's version is at least a faithful stand by. They come in large, or gigantic, with fillings or not. This year, they're offering an "old school" king cake with no icing, like your "mom'n-dem" used to eat. Check out locations on Tchoup, Royal, and on Baronne Street.
Now under Link Group management, the bakery's tradition for turning out galette de rois continues. The cake is made from layers of puff pastry with an almond cream center. Their New Orleans style King Cakes come with a range of fillings like cinnamon, cream cheese, and strawberry..
Cake Cafe is known for their signature apple and goat cheese filling, though you can also get mini Boudin and bacon king cakes here as well, along with more traditional cream cheese fillings (as well as unfilled).
For the purist, Haydel’s king cake has a cinnamon-infused Danish dough and lighter icing. This is the third year also, that they've set up shop in an Uptown outpost, taking over at the SnoWizard at 4001 Magazine St. (And two additional popups in Metairie.)
While the McKenzie's Bakery is no longer around, their old school traditional king cake is found at Tastees around NOLA, including the Harrison Ave location. These king cakes aren't too tooth-rottingly sweet, so if you have kids...
For many a New Orleanian, there is only one king cake that matters, and it's Randazzo's braided, traditional version. Which is probably why a line stretches out of the building during Carnival time. There are also flavors like Pecan Praline and the Royal, which includes a little bit of everything, dawlin.
Badabing, it's a king cake. The bakery's signature item ships around the globe, with fillings aplenty (hmm, pineapple?) or not, and they even toss in some doubloons, beads, and a poster if you're willing to spend upwards of sixty bucks.
Hi-Do Bakery in Terrytown has a nice plain brioche-style version - similar to the McKenzies version of old. The Hi-Do king cakes also don't have the sickeningly sweet white icing on them... so if you like fillings but not cinnamon and icing, those might be worth a try. Also available in cool shapes including fleur de lis and crab, but note: cash/check only.
Attention chocoholics - Get your king cake and chocohol cravings sated in the Warehouse District with Bittersweet Confection's chocolate cream cheese filled cake with chocolate drizzled on top of a daily made and braided brioche dough. Purists, do not despair, they have the classic version as well, in both regular size and mini/individual size.
This New Orleans East Vietnamese bakery offers horseshoe shaped king cakes topped with a cream cheese icing and is available in cinnamon, cream cheese, strawberry, and blueberry. This cake's fans include the owners of Pizza NOLA in Lakeview, who are carrying it for sale in their restaurant (141 W Harrison Ave), for those who don't want to brave the wilds of the East. Also check them out at both McClure's uptown locations.
This Bywater bakery turns out a king cake dubbed by many (including a tiptster) as "absolutely delicious." King cakes here include traditional, stuffed, and even vegan options, with the Savory Apple Cheddar Rosemary version sounding incredible. Call ahead to place order, or stop by to try a slice.
In addition to a variety of traditional king cakes (plain, cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese, blueberry cream cheese, and chocolate) Twin Burgers & Sweets created and serves a king cake is stuffed with boudin and topped with cracklins and Steen's Maple Syrup at this Lafayette restaurant. It can be shipped, but it's pricey.
This bakery won the People's Choice award at the King Cake Festival for their highly regarded traditional French variation, the Galette des Rois, last year - but they also do a Ponchatoula King Cake, stuffed with strawberries and cream.
Lakeview can easily get its hands on Dong Phuong king cakes at Pizza NOLA. They're carrying the cinnamon, cream cheese, strawberry and blueberry versions. Delivery is also available (order via phone). This year, they kicked off the season with a police escorted first delivery of the year on January 8.
Lisa White and Kelly Fields switch things up a bit this year with a Valrhona caramelized milk chocolate and espresso king cake available online or in store (which will even have king cake by the slice). $32, feeds 6 to 8 people.
Tartine's sister restaurant makes their own king cakes in house using the same recipe for cinnamon-cream cheese filled cakes. They also serve mini king cakes to go or slices of king cake to eat there. If you find the baby in a mini king cake, you get 10% off a regular sized one.
Not only does McClure's BBQ sell Dong Phuong king cakes by the slice at the taproom, but the Old Portage popup will be serving a Foie Gras king cake, with foie ganache, strawberry jam, and pistachios every Tuesday of Carnival season.
Rocket Girl, aka Dianna Egan, gives the gluten-free the opportunity to healthily enjoy the Carnival season. (She also makes vegan cakes as well). Call her (or go to her Facebook page) to order a cake with cinnamon or filled with seasonal fruit - and check out her new flavor with caramel and pink Himalayan salt. Pro tip: you can try GF king cake donuts at HiVolt.
This Cajun meat and food powerhouse of Central LA makes boudin king cakes to order - made with fresh risen bread, stuffed with boudin and butter, topped with cracklins. and glazed with homemade praline syrup. Sounds very much worth the drive, if you're in to that kind of thing. They're made only to order, so call to get yours (they're also very responsive on their Facebook page.)
If conducting business (like government or LSU related stuff) in Baton Rouge, you won't want to leave town before checking out the king cakes at City Pork; They have traditional ones, like plain and cream cheese-filled, but then they get creative with the Zulu flavor (coconut, chocolate, and cream cheese) and the City Pork king cake, with chocolate, cinnamon, and house cured bacon,
Stop by any Whole Foods to check out a very nice standard and filled versions of king cake, but the reason it's on this list is because one of the fillings is the WF bakery's addictive chantilly cream, which is basically life changing.
Chef Nathan Richard has a hand with offal, and he puts his talents to work with the restaurant's "Mardi Foie" kingcake dish. The cake is a duck fat brioche, and the icing uses saffron, beets, and arugula for color (and flavor) in its duck fat icing. Oh, and it has a big ole piece of seared fois gras on top.