Tujague’s History: The Birthplace of Brunch
Many people know that Tujague’s is the second oldest restaurant in America, but there’s so much more to our deep history that we want to share with you! This month, we’re starting with the history of brunch. Eggs Benedict, mimosas, and waffles – yes, the beloved tradition of brunch as you know it today actually began at Tujague’s! Follow on as we dive deeper into how Tujague’s forged its place in culinary history as the birthplace of brunch.
It all began in 1854…
German born, Elizabeth Kettenring Dutrey Begue arrives in New Orleans in 1854 to join her brother, who worked as a butcher at the French Market. Shortly thereafter, she met and married Louis Dutreuil, one of her brother’s fellow butchers. His American patrons claimed not be able to pronounce Dutreuil, so by 1867, when Elizabeth established a business across Decatur Street from the butcher’s market it was called Dutrey’s Coffee Exchange.
Elizabeth soon noticed how hungry her brother and his fellow butchers were midday because of early work hours, only being fueled by a croissant and coffee. She soon established the tradition of serving a hearty meal for the butchers every morning at eleven o’clock. The seven-course breakfast varied daily according to what was available at the bustling French Market just across the street. Standard on the menu were eggs accompanied by an additional four courses, washed down with a generous amount of wine and chicory-laced coffee. Her dining room only accommodated thirty guests. For the first decade, her patrons were mostly butchers. Hence, the meal we call brunch today was originally known as the butcher’s breakfast.
Breakfast at Begue’s
When Louis Dutrey died, Elizabeth continued to run the bar for two years and later married the handsome Hipolyte Begue. She later changed the restaurant to Begue’s Exchange. By the time the Cotton Exposition (the precursor of the World’s Fair) opened on the site of today’s Audubon Park in 1884, Begue’s had become the city’s premier tourist attraction. American travelers poured the city by train, hoping to experience the famed “breakfast at Begue’s”. The tourists soon crowded out the butchers, and business boomed. Ten years after Elizabeth died in 1906, Begue’s abandoned its original location and moved across the street to the uptown corner of Decatur and Madison.
Tujague’s Takes on Brunch
In turn, Tujague’s moved from its original location, a few doors down Decatur, to the original Begue’s site. Tujague’s was already serving a version of the butcher’s breakfast but had never achieved the fame of Begue’s. Once they moved to the original Begue’s location on Decatur Street, Tujague’s was in the spotlight! Breakfast was eventually replaced by lunch and dinner. In the 1980s, Steven Latter renovated the upstairs rooms where Madam had served her famous meals and reintroduced brunch to Tujague’s patrons. Today, brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, famously serving dishes such as Tujague’s Benedict, Abita Amber BBQ Shrimp and Grits, and Oysters en Brochette.
Experience the Original
Come join us for our traditional brunch experience in the French Quarter! See our full Brunch menu online, and call 504-525-8676 to reserve your table today.
If you’re interested in learning more about the rich history of the New Orleans food scene, you will undoubtedly enjoy Poppy Tooker’s Tujague’s Cookbook! Filled with stunning restaurant memorabilia, ghastly ghost stories, classic recipes and more, it’s a must-have for any foodie’s collection.