Crescent City Beignets

Frequent visitors to New Orleans know that no visit is complete without a pilgrimage to one of the city's coffeehouses to enjoy strong chicory coffee and beignets. Since the Civil War years, the fabled Cafe du Monde has been serving up the signature cafe au lait and deep-fried square pastries liberally dusted with powdered sugar. Realizing the sales potential of this revered combo, the entrepreneurial Bunch family of Baton Rouge decided to take beignets on the road. Crescent City Beignets (1211 W. Sixth, 472-9622) opened last week in a new shopping center on West Sixth between Lamar and MoPac, with plenty of parking. The bright, comfortable shop is decorated with black-and-white photos from the French Quarter and the menu is simple: beignets plus cafe au lait, chicory coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea, sodas, juices, milk, and coffee granitas. On opening day, proprietor Marcy Bunch told me the shop will soon be adding a Blue Plate Special Lunch every day, such as Red Beans & Rice on Monday, gumbo on Wednesday, etc. The beignets here are the divine genuine article: light, puffy squares of dough, fried golden to order, capped with powdered sugar, meant to be eaten immediately. We'll know this place has caught on when folks around town are seen sporting the "beignet blotch," a spot of powdered sugar on the nose or chin. I've got mine.

Cold Drinks

One of my favorite cold treats in summer is a homemade milk shake with fresh peaches, Dulce de Leche ice cream, and a dash of Frangelico. If that sounds too rich, here are a few other drinks from around town to tame the summer flames: Mango Margaritas ($4.95 or $24 pitcher) at Fonda San Miguel (2330 W. North Loop, 459-4121); Mocha Java Freeze ($3) at Russell's Bakery & Coffee Shop (3339 Hancock, 419-7877); Fresh Lemonade Pitcher ($1.99) at Hoover's Cooking (2002 Manor, 479-5006); Mocha Granita ($2.75) at Crescent City Beignets (1211 W. Sixth, 472-9622); Frozen Bellinis ($4.50 or $2 HH) at Mezzaluna (310 Colorado, 472-6770; Gateway Center, 372-8030);Agua de Horchata ($1) at Las Manitas (211 Congress, 472-9357); Watermelon Margaritas ($5.25 or $3.50 HH) at Manuel's (310 Congress, 472-7555; 10201 Jollyville Road, 345-1042); Lindeman's Lambic Beer, Peche or Framboise (12oz for $4.59, 25oz for $7.99) at Central Market (4000 N. Lamar, 206-1000; 4477 S. Lamar, 899-4300).


Attention, paella lovers! Every Wednesday in July, Tocai (601 W. Sixth, 457-8880) will feature the Mediterranean saffron rice and seafood dish paired with specially chosen wines. Service will be on its shaded patio complemented by the jazz guitar stylings of Andy Schneider... When you visit the new Grapevine Market (7938 Great Northern, 323-5900), stop at Tim Albright's well-stocked deli cases for dinner to go with your wine. We were impressed with the imported pâtés and cheeses (great Stilton!) and takeout entrees such as Beef Tenderloin, Baked Squash, Potatoes au Gratin, and roasted Mixed Veggies. He also has fresh fish, homemade frozen pizzas, and more... Congratulations to San Gabriel Restaurant Group executive chef W. Emmett Fox, who has been named president of the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, taking over the volunteer job from Block Distributing exec Leon Cikota.

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