No visit to New Orleans is complete without a chicory-laced café au lait paired with the addictive, sugar-dusted beignets at this venerable institution. The tables under the green-and-white-striped awning are jammed with locals and tourists at almost every hour. If there's a wait, head around back to the takeout window, get your coffee and beignets to go, and enjoy them overlooking the river right next door or in Jackson Square. The most magical time to go is just before
dawn, before the bustle begins. You can hear the birds in the crepe myrtles across the way. The metro-area satellites (there's one in the CBD at the Port of New Orleans) lack the character of the original.