It's easy enough to find fancy jazz brunches in the French Quarter on weekends, but on a regular weekday, a solid, affordable breakfast can be difficult to find -- overpriced tourist traps abound. There are excellent breakfasts to be had, though. Try these ten great restaurants in the French Quarter (plus one bonus restaurant just over the line) for a great start to your New Orleans day.
There's something to be said for a restaurant that does one thing and does it well, and that's definitely the case here.
Café du Monde has a single edible menu item: beignets. These crispy, puffy French donuts that arrive under a mountain of powdered sugar are a must-eat New Orleans food. Though they don't make for the most sustaining breakfast in town, they're cheap ($2.14 an order) and delicious. Wash 'em down with their classic accompaniment, a chicory-laced café au lait. Overwhelmed by the bustling scene? We all were the first time. Here's the low-down: How To Do Café du Monde Like a Local.
800 Decatur St. / (504) 525-4544 / cafedumonde.com / 24 hrs
The Ruby Slipper
This local mini-chain's Central Business District location almost always has a line out the door waiting for tables, but the Canal Street location -- the newest of four -- is a bit bigger and usually, has a table ready and waiting. Start your meal with a cup of locally-roasted French Truck Coffee or a spicy Bloody Mary from the bar. Try the breakfast sandwich ($7.50), which comes stacked with "pig candy bacon" and a fried green tomato and is served with a steak knife.
Or consider the Eggs Cochon ($13) -- like a standard Benedict but with pulled pork instead of Canadian bacon. Classic preparations of breakfast favorites are also on the creative, delicious menu.
1005 Canal St. / (504) 525-9355 / therubyslippercafe.net / 7:00am - 2:00pm weekdays, 8:00am - 2:00pm Saturday, 8:00am - 3:00pm Sunday
More than just "that other beignet place," Café Beignet serves a nice variety of hot breakfasts for reasonable prices. Try the Cajun hashbrowns: andouille sausage, potatoes, bell pepper, and red onion, served alongside scrambled eggs and toast. And don't hesitate to order the beignets -- they're delicious, and some locals even swear they're better than those at Café du Monde. All menu items are under $10.
2 Locations: 311 Bourbon St. & 334B Royal St. / (504) 524-5530 / cafebeignet.com / Bourbon location 8:00am - midnight, Royal location 7:00am-5:00pm
This French Quarter outpost of the classic Carrollton diner was a welcome addition to the French Quarter casual dining scene when it opened a few years back. All seating is at a long, winding counter, from which you can watch the cooks prepare your breakfast. For the most part, the breakfast menu consists of pretty standard-issue all-American fare (well-prepared and reasonably priced), but the standout item is the Chef's Special omelette: turkey, bacon, ham, potato, onions, Swiss and American cheese, and a big ol' scoop of house-made chili ($7.95). Unleash your inner cowboy on that sonofagun, if you dare.
540 Chartres St.
/ (504) 522-1800 / Breakfast served from 8:00am
The menu at Fleur-de-Lis is not long, but it packs a punch. The omelets are fluffy and overstuffed, the house hollandaise is zesty and rich and makes for delicious Benedicts (egg and seafood), and the shrimp and grits are divine. Service is impossibly fast, especially considering the fact that there seems to only be one waitress/hostess/manager in the place. This restaurant has a certain unreplicable neighborhood feel that makes it a really nice place to start the day.
307 Chartres St. / (504) 529-9641 / 7:00am - 3:00pm
The Old Coffeepot
Breakfast is the meal to eat at this Vieux Carré institution, and you'd be remiss not to order a plate of the calas ($8.50), an ultra-traditional New Orleans rice fritter, sort of the forgotten sibling of the beignet.
The pain perdu (what the French call French toast, $8.75) is also stellar, and the egg dishes are always a good bet.
714 Saint Peter St. / (504) 524-3500 / theoldcoffeepot.com / Breakfast served from 8:00am
Croissant d'Or is a Parisian-style patisserie with a gorgeous display case full of golden, flaky baked goods. The croissants are the best in town and come either plain (delicious, $1.75), stuffed with sweet things like chocolate or almond paste (also delicious, $2.25), or stuffed with savory things like sausage and cheese (unsurprisingly, also delicious, $4). Though they don't make hot breakfast items, I love their quiches ($4.25) in the morning, and their coffee, tea, and hot chocolate selection are excellent.
617 Ursulines Ave. / (504) 524-4663 / croissantdornola.com / 6:00am - 3:00pm, closed Tuesdays
Locals love this long-standing breakfast and lunch joint, and it's easy to see why. There's nothing out of the ordinary on the menu (other than the tasso, andouille, and alligator sausage that are available as omelette selections, it could be a breakfast menu anywhere in the South), but everything's cooked perfectly, the portions are hefty, the prices are fair, and the service is wonderful. Oh, and do try the Bloody Mary. The house-made seasoning is extra-special.
200 Chartres St. / (504) 525-0217 / menaspalace.com / Breakfast from 7:00am - noon M-F, 7:00am - 1:00pm weekends
At this restaurant, located right on the gorgeous Jackson Square, Chef Scott Boswell has created an impressive all-day breakfast and brunch menu that's both upscale and affordable and which includes a sumptuous array of local ingredients. Try the Eggs Stanley ($13.25): cornmeal-crusted oysters, poached eggs, Canadian bacon and Creole hollandaise on a toasted English muffin, or (get it yet?) the Eggs Stella ($19) -- the same but with a soft-shell crab instead of oysters. If something sweeter appeals, the Bananas Foster French Toast ($11.50) is an obvious choice. You can't really go wrong with anything here, and the whole menu is worth the caloric splurge.
547 Saint Ann St. / (504) 587-0093 / stanleyrestaurant.com / Breakfast served from 7:00am
Meals From the Heart Café
If all of the richness of New Orleans cuisine is getting to you, or if you have special dietary needs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc.), Meals From the Heart is a must-visit, and even my butter-loving self has to admit that the food is pretty darned excellent even if you're not dieting. Located in the French Market, most everything is made for take-out, but there are benches a-plenty located right nearby where you can enjoy your gluten-free blueberry pancakes with fresh fruit ($8.85), poached egg and Crab Cake Passion sandwich on whole wheat English muffin ($11.99), or other simple, healthy, flavorful options.
1100 N. Peters St. (in the French Market Food Court / (504) 525-1953 / mealsfromtheheartcafe.com / 9:00am - 6:00pm 7 days
I'm including this bonus restaurant on the list, even though it's not technically in the French Quarter (it's a block over the Canal Street line, in the Central Business District), but it's just so good and if you're in the Quarter, it's worth the quick jaunt. The breakfast at this Italian restaurant is outstanding, wildly creative, and stick-to-the-ribs filling. Try the Nancy sandwich ($10.50): eggs your way, house-made meatballs, and mozzarella. Believe me, you'll be glad you did. Or the cannoli pancakes ($11.75): crepe-like pancakes slathered with cannoli cream and drizzled with chocolate. Swoon. Or the Sicilian egg pie: eggs baked in puff pastry with cheese and herbs. Oh, God, yes. Seriously, go here.
125 Camp St. / (504) 561-8844 / redgravycafe.com / Mon, Wed, Thur, Fri 7:00am - 11:00am