The store itself is open 24 hours a day and only closes for Christmas Day. Despite being open all day long, odds are there will be a line of people waiting to be seated. If you enter on the side closest to Decantur Street that’s to sit on the patio and be served. There is a line on the opposite side of the building for those wishing to place to-go orders or to purchase Cafe Du Monde merchandise. If you are choosing to sit in the restaurant, be ready for cramped quarters and powdered sugar covered tables. The staff are very efficient and from the time you sit down to the time you get your food is a matter of minutes.
I was fortunate enough to find parking about a block away from the store but failed to realize that a “Premium” parking lot, meant my first 2 hours of parking cost me $25 right off the bat (still a little salty about that). The original store is located directly across from Jackson Square, so it provides some good people watching
Cafe Du Monde, the original French market coffee stand, has been a New Orleans icon since it opened in 1862. The store is best known for their beignets and chicory root coffee. Beignets are square shaped French style donuts saturated with powdered sugar. In addition to beignets there was the choice of several beverages including chicory root coffee, milk, and OJ. Chicory root coffee has its roots in the French civil war when coffee was scarce. Chicory was added to to the coffee beans to extend the supply and add flavor to the brew. Chicory is the root of the endive plant which is a type of lettuce. When roasted, ground and added to coffee this is thought to decrease the bitterness and add a “chocolate-like” flavor to the beverage.
Donut Selection: Waiting in line at Cafe du Monde, there is only one thing on everyone’s mind: beignets. If you are expecting anything else besides beignets, you will be sorely disappointed.
Taste: After waiting in line for 30 minutes in 90 degree heat, I convinced myself that there is no possible way these beignets would be worth the wait. That is until a plate of 3 beignets topped with a pound of powdered sugar appeared in front of me. The beignets were hot, fresh out of the fryer. One bite and it practically melted in my mouth. Trying not to be a total glutton I only ate one while I was sitting in the restaurant and took the other 2 to go. I would argue that even cold, the beignets did not disappoint. The powdered sugar had melted slightly and formed a sweet-sticky glaze over the beignets. While they were a little tougher and not as melt-in-your-mouth, overall the cold beignets tasted just as good as the hot & fresh ones.
Cost: One order of 3 beignets cost $2.73 and the coffees ranged from $2.73 to $5.92 depending on size. Buyer be warned this place is CASH ONLY!
Overall Score: 6/10
I feel like this is one of those classic “must see” places when in New Orleans. While the beignets were delicious, there were several other stores I passed that sold beignets which I was told by locals “tasted the exact same”. Go to Cafe du Monde if you want the authentic experience, but if you’re just in it for the donut I’d say you’re probably going to get just as tasty beignets elsewhere without fighting all the tourists.