One of the classic foods of New Orleans are beignets, and Cafe Du Monde is the most well-known place that serves them.
I recently returned from an amazing New Orleans trip where I managed to eat at nearly 20 places in a span of 3 1/2 days. I’m excited to share my adventures, starting with the spot I was most anticipating: Cafe Du Monde.
They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I originally had planned to visit the first morning we’d be in town, but once I realized it was open all day I couldn’t wait. Just a mere few hours after we got off the plane and had some dinner, I dragged Mr. K to Cafe Du Monde for a late night snack. We ended up loving the beignets and cafe au lait so much that we visited 3 times over our short stay. The beignets were that good.
The large cafe is bustling no matter what time of the day. Once you enter, you find a seat and shortly after a server with a paper hat will approach you. You place your order and a few minutes later, they bring it to you and you immediately pay the server. The cafe’s menu is simple: beignets, coffee, hot chocolate and a handful of other drinks.
On our first night, we ordered the beignets and cafe au lait.
Before my visit to New Orleans, I’ve been quite curious as to what a proper beignet should taste like. Many restaurants offer it and it’s described as a French doughnut, so I imagined it was supposed to be a light, fluffy donut cut into square pillow-shapes. But if that’s all it is, I didn’t understand why people rave about beignets. It turns out, they are not quite the same as a donut, which is where most restaurants that serve beignets get it wrong.
The beignets at Cafe Du Monde are indeed light, but they also have more substance and chew than a traditional fried donut. The inside is almost bread-like, but with large pockets of air which keeps it fluffy. One order of three will set you back a mere $2.42. They are topped with copious amounts of powdered sugar, and it’s almost a skill to learn how to eat them without accidentally inhaling and choking on the sugar or getting it all over your clothes. It took the third visit for me to successfully eat one without looking like a complete amateur. (I don’t recommend actually eating all the sugar.)
I enjoyed my beignets so much, we ended up ordering a second order that night. I think I could eat about a hundred of these.
The coffee at Cafe Du Monde is made with their signature blend mixed with French chicory. The Cafe Au Lait consists of the chicory coffee and hot whole milk. It’s extremely creamy, rich, and is the perfect accompaniment to the beignets. You can even dip the beignets in your coffee!
The next morning, we were back at Cafe Du Monde again, enjoying an early morning breakfast, just as I had pictured. During our visit, the cafe was completely tented and enclosed, making natural daylight ridiculously hard to find. We finally snagged a table with a little bit of natural light seeping in. Of course, these beignets were not nearly as pretty as our previous orders, coming out more like oversized long pillows rather than perfect square ones.
However, they still tasted amazing. When we bit in, you could still see the steam releasing into the air. The beignets are best when still hot.
Our final visit was again a late night one. The beignets this time weren’t as good, coming out a bit too doughy. We soon figured out that it’s best to come in the morning and/or daytime.
The cafe also sells a lot of merchandise as well as their signature coffee and beignet mix. We packed our suitcases with the mix so I can try to recreate the beignets at home. I miss them already.
Tips: Arrive in the early morning to avoid crowds and have very fresh, hot beignets. This place is also cash only.
Cafe Du Monde
Several locations, but we went to the original
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116