I had heard conflicting reports on who served the better Beignets in New Orleans, Café Beignet, or the more famous Café Du Monde. So I decided that the only way for me to really know for myself was to compare Beignets – not a hardship for a sweet tooth!
For those who are unsure, Beignets are squares of fried dough, eaten hot and served sprinkled with lots of confectioners sugar. They were brought to New Orleans in the 18th Century by the French Colonists, and these days are apparently the official State doughnut of Louisiana!
I saw the sign in the photo to the left in one of the Café du Monde shops and couldn’t resist taking a picture of it as it combined the historic WWII British sign with the tradition of Beignets at Café du Monde.
We initially tried going to the main Café du Monde (800 Decatur Street) first, but on a Saturday morning the line was ridiculously long. I had heard from a local that you can actually just walk in, ignoring the line of tourists, and if you see an open table just seat yourself at it and wait to be served. However, for me that felt a bit cheeky on my first ever visit!
So instead, we walked down Decatur Street a short way to the Café Beignet at the Jax Brewery (600 Decatur Street).
There was still a line out the door here, but nowhere near as long, and ultimately we ended up waiting about 15 to 20 minutes before being able to order at the counter and then find a table.
One order of Beignets, consists of 3 puffy squares covered in, in my opinion, way too much confectioners sugar (or in England we call it Icing sugar).
Make sure to have napkins handy, as the excess of sugar makes them messy to eat, even if, like me, you dust most of that sugar off. Make sure you aren’t wearing black, or anything that you don’t mind having confectioners sugar on, because mark my words, it has a way of getting all over the place.
The Beignets at Café Beignet were very nice and the Café had a pleasant ambience in which to enjoy them. There is another location not far away which I thought looked very cute, at 334 Royal Street and included a larger outdoor eating area.
But of course, I had nothing to compare the Beignets from Café Beignet to, so a few days later, at a quieter time of day, I visited the original location of Café du Monde at 800 Decatur Street.
This visit was mid afternoon, so the line was a lot shorter, but I decided to try out the locals way, and just walked in, found a table and sat down. Don’t worry about finding a clean table (because you probably won’t) but the waiter will clean it when they come up to serve you.
Almost straight away a server came to take my order. Now, because they are so busy, I had read beforehand that it is best to know what you want to order straightaway, as it may be a while before the server can get back to you, so I had made sure to look at the menu before sitting down. Beignets are the only food they offer, the rest is drinks.
So I ordered a Café au Lait and one order of Beignets. The Café au Lait is half Chicory coffee and half milk, so I was interested to see how the Chicory coffee tasted. Note; they only take cash payment.
Once again, lots of confectioners sugar of course, but I have to say that these Beignets were particularly light and puffy, and so I think did just beat out the Beignets from Café Beignet by just a little. I also did enjoy the Chicory Cafe au Lait, with it’s subtle flavour.
Another cool thing to know about this main location, is that if you go around the back you can watch through the window as they roll out the Beignet dough with a machine and literally throw it into the fryer! They work pretty fast, but then when you see how many they are selling, you can see why!
If you want to try Cafe du Monde but the main location is crazy busy, it’s good to know that there is a second location a bit closer to Canal Street at the Riverwalk (500 Port of New Orleans Place). This is inside a shopping Mall, so lacks ambience, but is much quieter. I was able to walk straight up to the counter around mid afternoon at be served immediately, and the Beignets were still delicious.
There is an even lesser known location in City Park, at the Parkview Terrace, actually more of a Food Truck location really, but I found it while visiting the New Orleans Botanical Gardens.
To sum it up, the Beignets at Café du Monde won for me, but only by a small margin, and I felt like the ambience at Cafe Beignet was more sophisticated. So if you can’t get in at Cafe du Monde, don’t rule out Cafe Beignet, it’s still worth a try in my opinion. And of course, there are plenty of other Restaurants in New Orleans that serve Beignets, these were just the two main places that I wanted to compare. You can read more about my food and tour experiences in New Orleans here.
Lastly, it’s interesting to know that the waiters at Cafe du Monde have to pay out of pocket for your food and drink order, then when you pay, you are effectively paying them back! It’s an unusual setup and I do hope the waiters/waitresses don’t get a raw deal because of this?
Date of visit; April 2019.