I hadn’t heard of Café du Monde before I made my plans to go to New Orleans, but just about every person who I talked to before leaving mentioned it and said I had to stop for beignets & café au lait. I don’t know why, but I was ridiculously excited to go. Probably because I haven’t eaten any type of donut for like a year and coffee with large amounts of milk is delicious. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the chicory that’s blended into New Orleans-style coffee. Chicory is a root that is powdered and mixed into the coffee. In the old days it was used for cost-cutting measures to stretch the more expensive coffee beans.
Café du Monde is kitty corner from Jackson Square, so I headed over after checking out the park. I was there early in the morning (although they are open 24/7 and are popular at bar time) and there was a crowd in the patio, but the inside seating was pretty empty. I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather and I had no problem getting a table. I read online that Café du Monde is to coffee shops what In N Out is to hamburger joints. That is, the menu is really simple. There’s only one food item to order. So, when the waitress came over and asked me what I’d like I was kind of like “uh… beignets? And café au lait.”
It doesn’t take long to get your order, probably because there’s only a few things they make. When your food arrives you pay the waitress right away and then you’re left to eat. Service is fast, tables turn over quickly, but I didn’t feel rushed. I lingered a while and read a book and no one cared. Also, it’s really cheap. I had one order, which is 3 beignets and a café au lait and my bill was $3 and some change.
The first thing I noticed when I got my beignets: holy powdered sugar, batman! Awesome. They were fresh and hot and so was the coffee. The chicory made it taste different. Not bad, or good, just different. I bought some coffee and chicory for home so I can see exactly how different it is. Right then I just wanted to sit and and enjoy. I think I would happily gain 30 pounds eating fresh beignets and café au lait for breakfast every day. I’m going to jump on the wagon and say that if you’re going to New Orleans, Café du Monde is a place you must stop.
When I was walking away, I paused to take a photo of the street performer who was playing the trumpet for everyone. I wasn’t fast enough and before I knew it he was asking me where I was from and trying to sell me his CD or get me to pay him some money. I declined and he said “that’s ok, I’ll play you a song anyway.” I was walking away and didn’t recognize the first few notes but then quickly realized he was playing “Chicago.” I turned back and smiled and he swooped the trumpet up to acknowledge.