Cafe au lait makes it possible to get out of bed. Beignets make it worthwhile — Anonymous
It’s the one thing about New Orleans that people universally agree on:
You need to try the beignets.
These puffy pillows of fried dough drenched in powdered sugar are practically synonymous with the city, as is the cafe au lait made with chicory coffee they’re usually served with.
So, most newcomers dutifully tramp over to where all the blogs and brochures point them: Cafe Du Monde.
There they stand, sweating, in a line that can stretch blocks (not even kidding); a line that is basically a gauntlet of panhandlers and grifters. And they stand in that line either because they’re determined to grab one of the few tiny, cramped tables, or because they don’t know that there’s actually a to go window and they don’t have to stand in the line at all.
That is, by the way, the only way I’ll go to Cafe Du Monde:
Simply bypass the line, slip under the awning and through the gift shop with its piles of golden boxes filled with pralines to the window at the very back. You can get all the cafe au lait and beignets your heart desires, right there, and then take your bounty over to Jackson Square.
But if you want beignets that are just as good without the tourist trap?
There are three locations: one on Royal, one on Decatur and my favorite: tucked away in Musical Legends Park on Bourbon, across from the Royal Sonesta hotel.
Not only is this little jazz courtyard lovely and open and usually not crowded, there are almost always live musicians playing New Orleans jazz. (See the trombonist above in the lefthand corner as evidence.)
As you can see above, the Cafe Beignet counter is straight ahead when you enter the courtyard from Bourbon. You can walk up there, order and have your beignets delivered to your table. They also usually have people stopping by the tables to take orders. There’s a full bar, too, something of which Cafe Du Monde can’t boast.
And the beignets and cafe au lait?
In general, Cafe Beignet is a much more civilized way to get your beignet fix. So, if you want an authentic New Orleans beignet without the hassle and bustle of Jackson Square, head over to one of Cafe Beignet’s three locations in the French Quarter.
Just don’t wear all black, and then sneeze just as you bite into one.
Ask me how I know.
311 Bourbon St. | 334 Royal St. | 600 Decatur St.