Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Café du Monde

NEW ORLEANS -- One of the world-famous institutions visitors to the city should be sure to partake of is Café du Monde, a coffee shop established a full 150 years ago during the U.S. Civil War (as per the sign my wife Diane is peering at toward the bottom of this page). It is located on Decatur street, just a block from the banks of the Mississippi River and at the west end of the French Market, Café du Monde was established in 1862.

Café du Monde is patronized by tourists and locals alike, who come to enjoy its French-style beignets and New Orleans-style café au lait blended with chicory. A beignet, by the way, is a pillow of fried choux dough, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, covered with powdered sugar, and served fresh to order at the café (they are kind of like a classy version of the fried dough that can be purchased at state and county fairs nationwide). Other than a few other sorts of beverages there is nothing else on the menu, a reminder that some of the best pleasures are also the simplest ones. Interestingly, its beignets have been certified kosher since 2008! That probably makes them halal, too. So, beignets can be enjoyed by everyone.

During our online research ahead of visting Café du Monde we noted that a number of people had complained bitterly about having to wait as much as two hours to obtain a table and their beignets, but a little legwork revealed just how inane this was. Yes, when we walked past the cafe on Saturday afternoon there were what looked like two-hour lines in front of it. But when we went there around midday on Tuesday we sat right down and had our treats and drinks in front of us within minutes.
Café du Monde is, in fact, open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, except for Christmas Day and when the city is getting slammed with hurricanes. So, if you waiting two hours to get your cafe au lait and beignets then you either want to suffer or are too clueless to how to keep from doing so.

Enjoy! I would not have wanted to miss my first beignet during my first trip to New Orleans and recommend that visitors to the city also have their first at the place most famous for them.

Nom, nom, nom! This family sitting near us especially relished their big plates of beignets. But how can you not like something that is deep fried and then buried under a mound of powdered sugar?


Philip Shade said...

How weird, I've never had to wait for a table. A highlight of any trip to du Monde's is watching goths try and eat their beignets without getting powdered sugar all over their black clothes. I go the route of tarping myself with napkins, but my friends insist you can just lean REALLLLLLY far forward.

Also some of the best coffee/chickory around. It what I use at home almost exclusively anymore.

Michelle R. Lane said...

Yeah, I've never had to wait for a table either. Of course, I usually eat my beignets after drinking on Decatur Street, or catching live music (and drinking) on Frenchman Street, whi h always makes me appreciate that Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours a day. I enjoy dressing in black and wearing my powdered sugar like a badge of honor.

Megan Irvine said...

Love that place, and I never waited too long for a table or service. Servers are nice, too, even when they are busy. Perhaps you have to choose the right time to go there.