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 10 great restaurants in the French Quarter for a great start to your New Orleans day.
Café du Monde
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 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 on how to do Café du Monde like a local.
The Ruby Slipper Café
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 Eggs Cochon—like a standard Eggs Benedict but with pulled pork instead of Canadian bacon. Classic preparations of breakfast favorites are also on the creative, delicious menu.
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. There are two locations in the French Quarter.
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. Unleash your inner cowboy on that sonofagun, if you dare.
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 neighborhood feel that makes it a really nice place to start the day.
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 , an ultra-traditional New Orleans rice fritter, sort of the forgotten sibling of the beignet. The pain perdu (what the French call French toast) is also stellar, and the egg dishes are always a good bet.
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, stuffed with sweet things like chocolate or almond paste , or stuffed with savory things like sausage and cheese. Though they don't make hot breakfast items, I love their quiches in the morning, and their coffee, tea, and hot chocolate selection are excellent.
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.
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: cornmeal-crusted oysters, poached eggs, Canadian bacon and Creole hollandaise on a toasted English muffin, or (get it yet?) the Eggs Stella—the same but with a soft-shell crab instead of oysters. If something sweeter appeals, the Bananas Foster French Toast is an obvious choice. You can't really go wrong with anything here, and the whole menu is worth the caloric splurge.
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, poached egg and Crab Cake Passion sandwich on whole wheat English muffin, or other simple, healthy, flavorful options.