When someone talks about New Orleans cuisine, you’re likely imagining mouthwatering images of jambalaya full of andouille sausage and shrimp, spicy gumbo served over white rice, po’boys in French Bread, and deep fried beignets. I’ve never been to New Orleans before, but there are quite a few Lousiana based eateries in Washington DC, and no, I’m not talking about Popeyes. While beignets tend to be a line item at the dessert menu for these places, I’ve never seen a place that’s solely focused on just beignets… until I went to Bilstad’s Beignets.
As the Doughn of Scones and Doughns, I love doughnuts. This is why it should come as no surprise that I also really enjoy beignets. They’re like distant cousins: both fried sweet dough of goodness that pairs excellently with coffee. When I first heard about Bilstad’s Beignets opening in 2022, I put the opening weekend on our calendar so Xak and I could check it out. After a solid first impression, Xak and I knew we would definitely return in the future.
When my friend, Regina, couldn’t come on our afternoon tea adventure in Winchester with our friend Elaine, we planned on her visiting on December 2, 2023. For that weekend, Regina, Xak and I would be running a race and Regina wanted to get in a practice 5k before race day. For Nova folks, the Washington and Old Dominion trail (W&OD) is a great place to run, walk, or bike. It’s also quite close to Bilstad’s Beignets! We decided to get breakfast there after Regina finished her run on the W&OD trail.
Location, Parking, and Hours
Bilstad’s Beignets is located in Loudoun County Ashburn, Virginia about a half mile away from the W&OD Trail. You can walk directly to Bilstad’s from the trail past Carolina Pit BBQ and Yum Yum Hibachi, however there is a small part where the sidewalk completely stops. You’ll either have to walk in the road or walk over some flowers. Neither option is ideal, but one is certainly safer than the other.
The cafe is located in a business center called the Cornerstone Center, which is also the home for a local gluten free bakery called The Difference Baker. There are a few reserved parking spots for each business, however I’ve only ever done the slightly treacherous walk from the trail.
As of January 2024, Bilstad’s Beignets is open everyday except Monday and Tuesday from 7 AM to 2 PM. To be on the safe side though, check on their active social media pages since they announce store closures due to weather and special events.
Dining Room and Decor
The cafe isn’t particularly large, but there are tables and chairs of various sizes. During my previous visits, I noticed most people would take their beignets to go, me included. For this trip, we decided to eat our beignets and drink coffee inside the cafe. While we were standing in line, I scoped out the dining room. Most of the tables were occupied, but there was one table available that could fit three. I hoped no one would snag it while we were ordering.
Since this is a pretty popular place to pick up breakfast, it can get a bit loud, however it didn’t bother me that much since the cafe was decorated for the holidays and I was also looking so forward to eating. 😋
When Xak and I first went to Bilstad’s Beignets during the 2022 opening weekend, the menu was quite small and focused solely on classic beignets. That day we ended up ordering 3 beignets with one dipping sauce and walked back to the trail. We then sat down at a picnic table to eat the beignets along with our Keurig brewed Donut Shop coffee served in our
Stanley Yeti cups.
The beignets were (and still are) soft, fried dough resembling little square pillows with a sweet ginger glaze, and a mountain of powdered sugar. Expect some stickiness on your hands as you eat and lick your fingers. Wet napkins are a good idea.
In October 2023, Bilstad’s expanded their menu to include a variety of different beignet themed options: beignets with bacon gravy, beignet breakfast slider, and even a beignet pudding with banana caramel. Additionally, Bilstad’s also released some seasonally flavored beignets such as apple cider and pumpkin for a limited time. Unfortunately for Xak and me, we missed out on the seasonal beignets this year and had to console each other.
There are also now a few non-beignet sandwich options and many different beverages including coffee (from West Virginia based brewer, Joan + Joe) and other hot drinks like Brown Sugar Hot Chocolate.
While the expanded menu looked awesome, with Regina there, we decided to get the Flight of 6 Beignets with 3 dippers. This amounted to 2 beignets each which I guess is enough. 😄 Since we planned on dining in, both Xak and Regina also got coffee. If you dine in the place, you can get free refills of regular coffee. The coffee is served in a disposable cup (no latte art) regardless of if you dine in or take it to go.
Dippers and Beignets
While the beignets are great as is, you can switch things up by adding a dipper. I don’t normally enjoy sauces or condiments (ok, I hate them), but I do think this is a special case where it enhances the experience. The dippers menu changes out from time to time, so it does make things a bit interesting. For example, during the holiday season the dipper flavors included snickerdoodle, cookies and cream, and gingerbread fluff.
On this particular day, we were able to choose from the following:
- Pomegranate Tapioca
- Strawberry 5-Spice
- Apple Butter
For our flight, we could choose three dippers so we decided on chocolate, caramel, and apple butter (for fall loving Xak).
After we ordered, got the coffees and sat down, it was time to eat. The beignets were served warm and each of us grabbed our designated two and broke off pieces of the beignet to try out each dipper.
I normally love chocolate, and while the chocolate itself was good, I didn’t necessarily care for the ginger glazed beignet to be paired with the heavy, rich chocolate. The beignets are quite delicate and I found the chocolate to be pretty overpowering. However, I did think it would go awesome with some graham crackers!
The next dipper was the apple butter. I’m not a big apple butter fan (I am so sorry, Xak). It tastes just like applesauce to me, except it takes way longer to make. While I do like applesauce, I don’t care to spread it all over bread or any other baked good. Not surprisingly, I didn’t care too much for the apple butter either, however I appreciated the seasonal touch.
The third dipper was the caramel. This is the same dipper I chose on my first visit, and it was delicious! I really feel like caramel is the best pairing because it doesn’t change the flavor of the beignet; it enhances it. This one is a winner. Paired with several sips from Xak’s coffee, my two beignets quickly disappeared, and I looked longingly at the menu wondering if Regina and Xak would join me in getting the box of 12 beignets to go 😄 (just kidding…)
I really love having accessible dining options close to the W&OD trail. Bilstad’s Beignets is a really nice place to go for a delicious bite. I am delighted that they now have a larger menu and I intend on experiencing it.
As we were finishing up our beignets, a very large group came in and the noise level increased exponentially and the place felt crowded as the group tried to push tables together. In the future, I’ll likely go back to just picking up my beignets and heading back to the picnic tables on the trail on a nice day, or just going home.
Hopefully Xak and I will also be able to try out the seasonal beignet flavors next year. That apple cider one sounded divine! Also, if the Bilstad’s Beignets owners ever read this, please consider making a “Beignet Shop” k-cup flavor in the future! 🤣
After our beignet breakfast, Regina and I picked up some Carolina Pit BBQ (for lunch to be consumed later!), had a Shark Tank marathon, made gingerbread houses with Xak, crocheted a ton, built our respective Lego sets while watching Hallmark films, and of course, we all ran our race the next day followed by Xak’s and my traditional post-race diner meal.
Overall, it was an awesome weekend and I can’t wait to see Regina and Elaine next year for our annual meetup!