When your fried chicken and hot honey sandwich comes to you at District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew., a lava-looking hot butter will ooze down the sides of your chicken breast’s breading. It might look unnerving at first, but give it time. It will shine up your chicken, soak into your bottom bun just a little, and send a message: not “chicken,” HOT chicken.
Now, let’s say you – a purely hypothetically “you” – were vapid enough to schlep yourself across town on foot, a mile and change, to Magazine Street one August morning. You walk a mile and a half all the time back home, you say (this hypothetical “you” is from a cooler climate, let’s just assume). It’s humid back home, too, you say – but it ain’t humid like this back home. By the time you reach Magazine Street, your clothes are soaked through in all sorts of unfortunate spots, and sweat has formed an outer layer on your skin somewhat like what that butter has done to that chicken. The difference is, it looks great on the sandwich. On me – I mean, on you, the hypothetical “you” – not so much.
Since you’re on Magazine Street, District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew. (henceforth referred to as District Donuts – that’s even their website URL) might be your best bet for a morning food base before you settle into the margaritas at Juan’s Flying Burrito and the strictly exploratory four or five beers at The Bulldog Uptown (not to be confused with The Bulldog Uptown, of course). It was here in the Lower Garden District where owners Chris Audler, Stephen Cali and Aaron Vogel first opened in 2013, hence the name. They’ve since grown District Donuts to four New Orleans-area locations, one in Baton Rouge, and one in Las Vegas.
Even if you’re as clammy and self-conscious as I was – I mean, “you” were – a tall cup of coffee should get you started. It’s good coffee with a purpose: District Donuts brews their own joe through a sister company called Cool Kids Coffee Roasters. According to the Cool Kids website, $1 from each bag sold retail is donated to help youth-focused nonprofits.
On Magazine Street, the District Donuts team plies their craft in a space that’s refreshingly devoid of kitsch. You have the expected soundtrack: bands that run together in your head, like the Lumineers or Mumford and Sons or the Avett Brothers or Bon Iver. You have wooden tables, brick walls, and those metal square barstool seats you might have sat on in high school shop class. You’ve seen all of this before, and rooms like this have generally been good to you. Why mess with it?
You probably came for the first time because you wanted some donuts. For me, it was a maple-frosted donut with spicy pralines. If you’re like me, you have to pull out your phone because you’re kind of … but not really … maybe you once knew … but you might just be saying that … but just hang on so you can double-check exactly what a praline is. Are you wondering right now? Here you go. The pralines on my donut weren’t spicy, but I still haven’t met a maple-frosted donut I didn’t like.
Beyond pastries, District Donuts traffics mostly in burgers and sandwiches. If you just want a cheeseburber slider, District has that. If you want a dozen, District can do that. Chicken sliders, too. A croque madame sandwich with ham, Havarti, bechamel, mustard, and a yolk bomb on a donut bun, too. You can see the menus in their entirety on their website.
The fried chicken and hot honey sandwich is advertised as having a French toast bun, but the French toast-ness of that bun was lost on me. Beyond that, you have a sandwich that backs up its “Threat Level: Red” introduction with appropriate severity in every bite. The rest of your body might shiver when the spice makes its way through your mouth and stomach. Fingers will get sticky. Licking them clean probably won’t help, but you’ll try anyway. Napkins are stacked with silverware at a little station against the wall by the counter seats. Maybe grab another donut to go. Are you seriously considering walking back home? Maybe stay here and eat that donut.
DISTRICT DONUTS. SLIDERS. BREW. (MAGAZINE ST.)
- Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. every day (lunch served after 11 a.m.)
- Prices: Breakfast items $3.50-9; lunch and dinner entrees $6.50-11
- Google Maps: Here’s the Mag St. location.
- Am I Going Back? It’ll take a donut craving to get me there, but the situation will escalate quickly once I’m through the door.