To be honest, I’m not sure what the quintessential Cafe Du Monde experience is: eating beignets or waiting in line so that you can eat beignets. Make no mistake, the beignets are good and I’ve gone out of my way to eat them every time I’ve been to New Orleans, but the lines that form outside the coffee stand strike me as more due to hype than a life-changing treat.
I don’t mind waiting in lines as long as they feel like they’re moving, and all of my trips to Cafe Du Monde have been relatively painless compared to what so many have warned me about. Whether that makes me just lucky or makes everyone else impatient is up for debate, but I’ll admit that in the past I had wondered, surrounded by all the other people doing their best to avoid getting covered in flying powdered sugar, what it might be like to visit Cafe Du Monde in, what I assumed would be, relative peace and quiet.
You know what they say about assumptions, right?
I should not have been surprised when I popped into Cafe Du Monde a little after 4 a.m. on a Friday morning to see a 12-person deep bachelor/bachelorette party now hopped up on sugar and coffee after a long night of partying, but I’ll admit to being a little disappointed that my dreams of a quiet morning of beignets and milk had been spoiled.
On the plus side, parking was significantly easier to find and the wait for my beignets was short, and when a good late night snack/super early breakfast is as cheap as what I ordered, it’s hard to be disappointed for long. The flow of folks getting a snack before bed was steady, and the people-watching wasn’t bad; you have to respect anyone who decides to make their first Cafe Du Monde trip in the dead of night without even knowing what a beignet is.
In time, the party would head back out into the night to go get into whatever trouble one does a few hours before the sun rises. It was almost time for me to head out into the darkness myself, my plate a pile of leftover fried dough on top of a dune of powdered sugar and my belly satisfied. In the end, I did not regret my decision, and if I’m being honest, I think doing the late, late night beignet run is something everyone should consider. Do the daylight line wait too, just so you can compare notes next time “New Orleans travel” comes up in conversation. But getting that powdered sugar fix while getting in some prime people watching—even at 4 a.m.—is just an added bonus.