There was one absolute must-do on our New Orleans bucket list: Eat beignets at the iconic Café Du Monde.
Sure, there was sightseeing to be done, like ride the St. Charles streetcar, shop at the boutiques on Magazine Street, gawk at the mansions in the Garden District, listen to the sweet sounds of jazz wafting through Frenchmen Street, aimlessly wander around the historic French Quarter, and experience a night of debauchery on Bourbon Street.
A healthy sampling of Creole/Cajun cuisine — gumbo, étouffée, jambalaya, red beans & rice, po’boys, and the lot — also was on the itinerary.
But ever since those magical childhood Saturday mornings waking up to the intoxicating smell of freshly fried beignets Mom used to make from the Café Du Monde mix, it’s been a goal — no, dream — to try the real deal at the original stand.
We booked our getaway on a whim while struggling with a bad case of wanderlust from our recent Alaskan adventure. As we scrolled through Southwest flights in the final hours of a flash sale, seeing roundtrip airfare to the Bayou State for less than $200 made it a no brainer.
With the flight booked and the countdown to St. Louis’ sister city on, we started meal planning right away. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, just about everything we do revolves around food.
New Orleans truly is a foodie’s paradise. We sipped Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens, dipped crusty French bread into bowls of steaming gumbo at the Gumbo Shop, gorged on fried okra and crawfish & grits at Evangeline, slurped oysters at Acme Oyster House, guzzled Hand Grenades at Tropical Isle, brunched so hard at Court of Two Sisters, fourth-mealed with a duck dog and crawfish étouffée-smothered fries at Dat Dog, and got the royal treatment as we feasted on decadent courses of turtle soup, shrimp & grits, and bread budding soufflé at Commander’s Palace.
But let’s get back to the beignets, shall we?
Café Du Monde was the initial stop our first full day in New Orleans. Lucky to have missed the early rush, we grabbed a seat under a fan amid the green-and-white striped awning. Our order of piping hot beignets and café au laits appeared in less than five minutes, just like magic.
Perhaps it’s just our imagination, but as we sunk our teeth into those warm pillows of sugary goodness, powdered sugar flying every which way, we think a heavenly light shined down as a chorus of angels began to sing. Either way, that first bite was everything we’d anticipated.
The next morning while strolling through the French Quarter, probably still on our sugar high, we stumbled upon Café Beignet, a seemingly cute and charming little nook. We figured a place with Beignet in its title had to be good. These beignets, however, left much to be desired. They were dense, tough and oily compared to Café Du Monde’s.
We couldn’t leave New Orleans with a bad taste in our mouths, so we revisited Café Du Monde our last morning. We ordered the beignets to go and ate them en route to our St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 walking tour. Table service or takeaway, the Café Du Monde beignets are far superior to Café Beignet and worth all the hype.
And for those of you doing the math, yes, that makes three consecutive mornings of eating doughnuts for breakfast. Hey, life’s all about balance!
Sometimes, the best sweets are the most simple. Case in point: beignets. These unbelievably light, fluffy square pastries, lavishly doused in powdered sugar, are insanely delicious.
Beignets are best washed down with a café au lait, or half chicory coffee (another NOLA delicacy) and half scalded milk. Pro tip: Skip the table sugar and stir in a spoonful of the powdered sugar from your plate into the café au lait.
Although it’s not exactly an exquisite presentation, we get all heart-eyes emoji at the sight of those little doughy squares peeking out from underneath the avalanche of powdered sugar atop a Styrofoam plate. Keep in mind you’ll proudly wear a trail of powdered sugar on your dark clothing all day following consumption, though that’s not any different than sporting an “I Voted” sticker on Election Day, ya feel?
Speaking of Election Day, we wish we were drowning our sorrows face first into a beignet right about now …
Café Du Monde does two things incredibly well — some may argue darn near perfection — and that is turning out exceptional beignets and chicory coffee for more than 150 years. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
@Cafe Du Monde, if you ever feel like getting crazy, though, might we suggest these Nutella-stuffed pumpkin beignets?
This is probably one of the cheapest meals you’ll find in New Orleans. An order of three beignets will set you back just a couple of bucks. Paired with a café au lait, this breakfast/dessert/just because meal rounds out to nearly $5.
The next time you’re in NOLA, don’t waste your time or calories on mediocre beignets elsewhere. Try the billowy, heavenly beignets at the one and only Café Du Monde. You won’t regret it.
If You Go…
Café Du Monde
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
PS: Café Du Monde is cash only!
Where should we eat the next time we visit New Orleans? Share your recommendations with us in the comments below!