Everyone knows Cafe Du Monde for its beignets. I mean, it's the only food they serve and they're open 24/7 soooo... Well, a couple of years back, my sister, who had been attending Tulane in New Orleans, mentioned that the beignets served in Disneyland were nothing compared to the ones at Cafe Du Monde. I was taken back because I had other thoughts.
More recently, I was watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" New Orleans edition and Alton Brown claimed that Cafe Beignet has the best beignets in New Orleans (not Cafe Du Monde). Now, I had eaten there for breakfast once and I wasn't too impressed BUT he is a food expert so my interest was piqued.
So, naturally, I got to thinking. Is there really a clear difference between these beignets? They're just fried dough with sugar, right? Well, this trip, we had a unique opportunity to be in Disneyland just days before heading to New Orleans. That's when I decided it was official: the taste test was on.
Want to know the winner? Keep reading...
Mint Julep Bar - New Orleans Square - Disneyland
Ok, so two days before heading to New Orleans, I picked up one of my favorite Disneyland snacks: some Mickey beignets and a [non-alcoholic] Mint Julep from the Mint Julep Bar. There's something perfect about fried sugary goodness mixed with a sugary, yet refreshing, drink when you're tired from walking around the park. Added bonus: this spot is tucked away in a back section of the most quaint part of the park, New Orleans Square.
Mickey-shaped charm aside, it was time to get critical. My mom and I both noted that the Disneyland beignets were tasty but not nearly fluffy enough. They kind of deflated and were hollow as soon as we bit into them. It may have been a result of literally being the first people to the Mint Julep Bar that morning (check out how empty New Orleans Square was!), but really, we had a feeling my sister might have been on to something.
Cafe Du Monde
A few days later, the true test was on when we got to Cafe Du Monde. Now what the Mint Julep Bar can offer in quiet charm, Cafe Du Monde can not, unless you go there super late/early in the day. Otherwise, the crowds are ridiculous and you often have to wait in line. This time, there were no lines but there was sort of a cut-throat mad dash to the (very few) empty tables going on. And they were all still covered in powdered sugar and garbage from the previous guests. And it took forever to be served. BUT frustration over the table/service situation aside, sure enough, their beignets were doughy perfection. They had volume, fluff, a little bit of stickiness inside, and great flavor. They were just amazing. I'm still thinking about them more than a month later. Mmmm.
Ok, so my sister was right, Disney's fake version of New Orleans just doesn't serve beignets that are truly up to snuff.
Now to test Alton Brown's theory about the best beignets in New Orleans. I was wary because a breakfast I had gotten at Cafe Beignet ended up being mediocre; however, I had never tried their beignets...and, well, the place is called Cafe BEIGNET.
In terms of atmosphere, Cafe Beignet is absolutely charming (that's what drew us in the first time) and, as Alton Brown mentioned, there are cats that enjoy the outside patio with the patrons, so I guess that's nice for some people? He was really into it.
So, how did this place stack up? Drum roll please...big disappointment! The oil they fried the beignets in noticeably detracted from the taste. Maybe it needed to be changed that day, but I really really really don't like when the taste of oil overpowers my food. Flavor aside, the consistency texture-wise also just couldn't match up to Cafe Du Monde. Sorry, Alton, it might be a cute place and it might have cats, but Cafe Beignet is most certainly not the best server of beignets in New Orleans.
Moral of the story: cliche as it sounds, Cafe Du Monde really is top notch with their beignets. Guess you have to be if that's the only food you serve!
I know we only tried 2 beignet spots in REAL New Orleans so our sample size would be thrown out the window in any real experiment. So really, what we'd like to know is: are there any other good beignets around town people should try?