Last week, I had the pleasure of traveling to New Orleans to attend a conference for work. I did not, however, have the pleasure of waking up at 2:30am on Monday to get myself to the airport for my flight. Ugh. I had never been to New Orleans and absolutely adore “The South” so I was really looking forward to seeing the town, even though I knew there wouldn’t be much time for sightseeing, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru style.
Once I picked up my co-worker-friend on the way and we got ourselves a space in Lot D at the airport, we waited in the bitter cold for a shuttle bus. Missouri, just so you know, it’s March. What happened to all that nice weather you gave us back in February!!!??? Come on already!!
We flew Southwest (which I have recently become more familiar with and am wondering how come nobody has told me how awesome Southwest is!) and thus had a longer shuttle ride than the rest. After most of the people had exited to their respective terminals, there were a few Southwest stragglers left on the bus. We had a little red eye small talk and divulged our destination to our fellow passengers. The man with the beard and tattoos sitting opposite from me told us that going to Cafe Du Monde for the beignets is a must. All the while I’m thinking, “What the heck is a beignet?” but I made a note in my phone none the less because I like reviews from people who have been-there-done-that.
Once we landed in the Big Easy and boarded the cramped hotel shuttle,the driver (we shall call him “tour guide” from this point on for that’s exactly what he was) ushered us along the highway giving us lots of local advice. Confusion set in, though, when he said that Cafe Beignet for the beignets is a must. We thought we heard the bearded airport guy wrong or something. But alas, there is a Cafe Du Monde and there is a Cafe Beignet and they both serve beignets!
Since we had gotten a raving review about beignets from the bearded shuttle guy and our tour guide, we knew this was a must. Starting off Day 2 nice and early, my co-worker-friend and I set off on foot to Cafe Du Monde. It was a nice morning in New Orleans with sunshine that I hadn’t seen in Missouri for weeks so I was happy to stroll in lieu of cabbing it.
When we arrived at the Cafe (which is near the French Market), the line was intimidating, to say the least. We thought there was no way we had time to eat if that’s how long we were going to have to wait, however, the line moved very quickly so we decided to tough it out. We probably waited a max of 10 minutes and were lucky enough to score a table outside just as someone was leaving.
The menu is basic to say the least. But it’s known for the beignets so I don’t know what else you would order anyway. So…. The Beignet. It’s a french doughnut. With a mountain of powdered sugar on top. Holy goodness. The tour guide did provide fair warning not to wear any black if en route to eat beignets. Now we know why.
At the risk of sounding politically incorrect (heck, what isn’t politically incorrect these days), there were an inordinate amount of elder Asian ladies running the joint. And don’t get me wrong, kuddos to them for working that hard to serve that many people a day! But I almost had guilt placing my order knowing our waitress was going to have to wade through the mass of customers back into the restaurant to get our order and then turn around and find her way back to our table. And they were still a little difficult to understand. My co-worker-friend ordered a tea. She was served a coffee.
But this is no ordinary coffee. No no. This is a cafe au lait; coffee with hot milk. I saw many people dipping their beignets in the coffee. And while I’m normally a black coffee gal (specify clearly if you only want the black coffee; thank goodness I’m not picky), the cafe au lait was mighty tasty paired with the three tiered beignet special.
The second time I went (Yes, there was a second time and while I would happily admit it was my choosing should this be the case, a second co-worker-friend was wanting to try it out as he had missed out the first day), it was before 8:00 am and the outdoor dining area was closed. Cafe Du Monde is open 24 hours a day so we found seating inside on this particular morning. The beignets this day were especially fresh and warm and even more perfect than the first round.
They’re more specialized than the original McDonald’s menu and literally have a “factory line” type of system inside. The servers just move down the line adding how many plates of beignets and how many cups of cafe au lait have been ordered. Also, please note they only accept cash! No cards and no checks.
We were told by the bearded, tattooed man at the airport that the beignets are especially scrumptious after a night drinking in the French Quarter. I can’t attest to that as I was there for work and I’m older than I used to be and I can’t hang out much past 10:00 pm.
Has anybody checked out either Cafe Du Monde or Cafe Beignet? Tell me your thoughts!! Who has the best beignet in NOLA??
(Note: The waiting line outside the Cafe was three times as long as what we had when we arrived-see the picture above. This was probably about 10:00am. If you want to avoid the wait, hit it up as close to 8:00 am as you can.)