As iconic as the Café Du Monde in New Orleans is for us and other tourists, it presented something new this trip: a trip to the back of the restaurant to see “how it’s done”! No visit to NOLA is complete for us without a stop at 800 Decatur Street. It’s where the Original Café Du Monde Coffee Stand has stood since 1862, and where patient waiters and waitresses continue to please a steady stream of folks ordering cafe au lait and beignets.
Open 24 hours a day (except for Christmas Day and the occasional hurricane), Café Du Monde is a well-oiled institution dishing up white ceramic mugs of their famous coffee and chicory blend mixed half-and-half with hot milk — rich, creamy coffee au lait!
But don’t wear black at Café Du Monde — you’re gonna want to indulge in a three-stack of beignets, those square French doughnuts liberally coated in white powdered sugar.
The experience begins with a patient, very patient, waiter or waitress taking your order.
And then they kick it into gear, waiting in line for trays, mugs, and saucers of beignets.
And wait some more. Until fresh ones come from the back served up on tiny saucers.
(Note: You can even watch ’em being made if you go outside, out back of the restaurant where a window on the world of beignet creation is open for all to observe. See what you learn when you take a tour of the Quarter?)
Feverishly, almost sportingly, the wait staff move in. Hey, that’s mine. Wait a minute! Hold up! I’ve got that one!
Last stop: big urns for straight-up black coffee or cafe au lait.
Calmly, as if scurrying would be beneath the dignity of a Café Du Monde server, waiters return to their tables without spilling any of their now-famous Acadian blend of coffee and chicory and sure-to-please beignets.
It’s what you don’t want to miss in New Orleans. Whether you’re right out front — or behind the scenes!
Cafe Du Monde, 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA; cafedumonde.com; Mail Order: 1-800-772-2927.
Check out all our posts on Travel Series: New Orleans here.