A NOLA Export is LA's Newest Addiction
Los Angeles is a donut town. And despite all the diet fads, health crazes, workout classes, and Peloton rides, there are still dozens of donut shops littering every part of the city. It may not be you, but someone is eating all these sweets…
The newest, sweetest, and surprisingly lightest addition to the LA donut canon is Beignet Box, a Louisiana transplant that started as a food truck and is staking a claim for donut supremacy in a very crowded field.
Let’s get something out of the way first. For the uninitiated or the ill-informed, a beignet is unequivocally a donut. No, they’re not round, and there’s no hole in the middle, but they are essentially fried pastry dough made with flour, eggs, water, butter, and sugar (and depending on the recipe, yeast). Not only that, but beignets are the official state donut of Louisiana – case closed.
The founders of Beignet Box are two best friends. The actress/singer/songwriter Christina Milian and Louisiana-native Elizabeth Morris. The two-decade friendship began in LA, but the idea to start a beignet business came from trips to New Orleans and seeing a hole in the LA donut world (all the intended puns).
“I wanted to be in the food world with something that people really love.” said Morris inside her new brick and mortar location off Ventura Boulevard in Studio City.
Morris moved back to Louisiana for a spell and tasted every beignet on the market, searching for a recipe that would meet any New Orleans transplant skeptic’s expectations but also Angeleno’s palates.
Like most donuts, your typical beignet is heavy. It’s a dough ball, filled with sugar that sits in the pit of your stomach and post-sugar high, can ruin the rest of your day. But Milian and Morris settled on a unique concept where the dough is layered during preparation and results in a light and airy beignet that is both scintillating and dangerous. Just try to only eat one.
The two friends started their business with a food truck and originally launched the concept at Louisiana State University, serving hot, fried, powder-sugared beignets to college kids. Eventually, the truck made its debut in LA, and was an instant hit among the health-conscious, yet donut-loving denizens.
With the success of the truck, the duo planned on opening their first brick and mortar in New Orleans in the Spring of 2020, but a little thing called Covid put the kibosh on that.
“The crazy thing about Covid was that our business thrived. We were people’s comfort food.” Morris explained.
Morris and Milian pivoted their plans from New Orleans and settled on an LA shop instead. Backed by an all-star team of investors that includes Will Smith, Alex Ohanian and Serena Williams, the shop evokes a New Orleans café with black-and-white dotted-tile floors, brass fittings, two-top marble tables, and a healthy dose of pink that brightens the proceedings.
The menu here isn’t complicated – it’s beignets and its coffee. Open from 9am-10pm, the crowds are a mix of moms with very-excited kids in the morning, and a mix of post-dinner date adults and teenagers looking for a sugar rush late at night.
If you come to beignet box expecting a Cafe du Monde knockoff (the famous New Orleans beignet hub since 1862), or think you’re getting something close to Louisiana staples like The Vintage, or Cafe Beignet, or Morning Call, you’ll walk away disappointed – but you’ll also be missing the point. The beignets inside Beignet Box aren’t knockoffs. They’re original. They take the best aspects of the French donut, add some of the weight-consciousness of Los Angeles, and produce a treat that is undeniably exceptional.
And lucky for Angelenos and the rest of the country, the Beignet Box team is already expanding to more locations, plans on franchising across the U.S., and will be filling up the frozen food sections of grocery stores in the not-too-distant-future.
12265 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604