Travelogue: Four Hours in New Orleans

Bacon Bloody Mary at Bar Tonique. Mmm.

Just before Christmas, I got the unique opportunity to travel to the South. Although much of Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama passed by the car windows at 75 mph, I got to spend some leisure time catfishin’ in Mississippi and I spent about four hours in New Orleans.

I asked my friends what I should see on my first visit, and turned to Cocktail Virgin Slut for boozing advice. Here’s where my adventures led me!


This is Bar Tonique, an exceptional cocktail experience. It’s not too far from the main tourist drags of the city, but a world apart. Quiet, calm and friendly, it was an ideal drinking spot in the late afternoon.


The menu at Bar Tonique. Their specialities are classic and historic cocktails; on the menu, they include the date the cocktail was created (if known). Notice the hot Tom & Jerry! You can see their full cocktail menu here.


I settled on the hot buttered rum, mixed fast and fresh by our cheery, tattooed bartender. The fat floated on top until you stirred it with the rum and hot water, creating a whirlpool of wintry spices. Every sip was smooth and silken, warming all the way down to the pit of your stomach and the cockles of your heart. It kept out the chill on a cool NOLA evening.


After cocktail hour, we headed over to Cafe Du Monde, a coffee ‘stand’ which was established in 1862. The stand is now a giant, open-air restaurant that primarily serves two things: coffee and beignets, the New Orleans-style deep-fried donut. Each order of beignets is accompanied by a snow drift of powdered sugar.

Cafe du Monde has a unique operating system: each server is essentially an independent business. They take orders at the tables and then head inside the cafe, picking up the food from a cafeteria-style line.


Then, each server pays for his order. It gives the impression that anyone from the street could walk in and start serving at du Monde, which is probably true: the service is severely lacking. The restaurant was very crowded and the lack of managerial organization showed. After being seated, we waited 30-45 minutes to get served. We flagged down several servers, but no one would claim our section, or help us to get a server that would server us. It was shenanigans.


The beignets, on the other hand, lacked nothing. Fried dough and powdered sugar; I thought I been there before. But nothing could beat the lightness and perfections of a beignets in a place that only cooks one thing: beignets. Worth the wait!


What should I do the next time I’m in New Orleans??


3 thoughts on “Travelogue: Four Hours in New Orleans

  1. I have never been to Cafe Du Monde, but I have been to food stands in Los Angeles that worked the same way — basically, some enterprising Mexicans figured out they could just take orders for people at the tables, then keep the tips the customers would leave, without having to fret about being ‘hired’ or anything.

  2. Actually was mentioning this to my mother, who went to Cafe du Monde about 25 years ago. She says back then there were no waiters anf you just bought your food at the counter then carried it over to a table.

    • I would believe that someone just starting serving one day for tips, and it turned into an institution! I think I would have rather gotten my own beignets.

Comments are closed.