During my short trip to New Orleans I realized VERY quickly that the city is a big eating town. In just the same way Las Vegas is to gamblers, New Orleans is to food and drink. And while I don't normally eat breakfast, there were some places and food items I just had to hit so it was game on for that first meal! And what's nice about breakfast is that at least it's a bit cheaper than most other meals but still not cheap in Nawlins! I managed to hit two local favorites during my visit, Cafe Beignet on Royal Street and the Stanley on Jackson Square...
Located off of Bourbon Street on the slightly less famous Royal Street, Cafe Beignet is often mentioned as a contender for best beignet in the City! For some reason, I didn't want to hit up the uber-popular Cafe du Monde and wanted to do something a bit simpler. Plus Alton Brown raved about Cafe Beignet! The small store-front goes back pretty deeply with a busy back counter for ordering your eats. I go with the standard 3 beignets for $3.99 along with a cup of strong, chicory coffee. Grabbing a small table inside, I notice the nice garden area Cafe Beignet has outside for its patrons. But I'm staying inside since I have no idea whether I need to pick up my order.
About 5 or 10 minutes later, my number gets called out and a young lady drops off a plate of sugar-dusted, fried dough pillows! Yeah, I'm obviously not an expert but that's what they look like to me. I take a bite into this freshly fried wonder and get a hit of sweet, crunchy and dense dough inside. The texture has some elasticity and density to it, not quite cake, not quite bread. What makes the beignet is the crunchy edges and surface for me. And all that confectionery sugar, yum! The plate of three is probably meant to be shared so I nibble around the edges and it goes well with that rich coffee. Given this was my first New Orleans beignet experience I can't say they were the best, my instincts that something a bit lighter and fluffier would be my preference but I'll have to try some others out. Until then, Cafe Beignet does a nice job dishing out these fried little beauties...
Looking for an old-school breakfast spot, I had several people recommend the Stanley to me so off I went! Located on the edge of the French Quarter near Jackson Square, the Stanley has a classic feel with tiled floors, wooden counter stools and a large, open and airy dining space. Happy diners are all digging into some wonderful looking breakfasts when I step in. I grab a seat at the counter in front of the kitchen and scan the menu. It looks like the Stanley does breakfast and brunch all the time, perfect for the partiers coming off of Bourbon Street. I order up the eggs benedict poor boy, trying to go as light as possible with my meal.
The large glass of OJ and strong coffee tided me over until my benedict shows up. And it's a very nice looking benedict with thin slices of country ham on top of short, split french bread. I dive into the dish, splitting up the yolk which makes for an awesomely, creamy mix with the hollandaise. The bread is wonderfully light and crunchy, creating a slightly different mouthful from the traditional english muffin benedict. Overall it's a great version of eggs benedict and perfectly satisfying. The whole meal comes out to about $18 which is a bit pricey to me for breakfast but Jackson Square seems to be a tourist area so what can you do? Tasty breakfast food in a cool and classic location with great service? You can definitely do worse than the Stanley but I have to confess that the $3.99 breakfast at Krystal Burger on Bourbon Street is sort of looking interesting to me! New Orleans will feed your stomach and empty your wallet all at the same time, bon appetit!
Cafe Beignet - Reviewer: Ron Wen - Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Stanley - Reviewer: Ron Wen - Rating: 4 out of 5 stars