Nubian Queen Lola's Cajun Soul Food Cafe

Authentically delicious cultural enrichment

When it comes to foreign cultural and religious celebrations, everyone away from the epicenter is always claiming, "I want an authentic experience." Immersion in the cultural aspect of what is going on becomes the key to feeling like you participated successfully.

I've never been one to care whether or not I celebrate St. Patrick's Day, or Día de los Muertos, or Mardi Gras, or whatever traditional ethnic or religious observance American's have spun into a reason to binge drink. But, after accidentally stumbling into a Mardi Gras-esque haven, I've decided I will never not care again.

Not only did I eat some of the best food I've had in a long time, but it also came with a sense of accomplishment, because, hey, I just participated in the culinary aspect a legendary regional holiday! Neat.

The exterior of Nubian Queen (Photo by Carly Yansak)

Nubian Queen Lola's Cajun Soul Food Cafe is a joint nestled on the corners of Rosewood and Lafayette. Small; scratchily painted; windows with bars over them, you could call it a hole in the wall I guess. There's multi-colored beads dangling from the ceiling and a New Orleans Saints sign behind the counter. Not that you use the counter. You just sit down and Lola, the owner, comes out and asks you want you want. According to the people next to us, you shouldn't really answer.

Beads hanging from the ceiling at the Nubian Queen (Photo by Carly Yansak)

"Just let her order for you," they say.

The menu is Creole and more Creole. Po-boys (there’s one with pork chop, chicken, AND catfish on it), red beans, collard greens, gumbo, crawfish étouffée - everything you can imagine. She also serves something called "Cajun Tea," which is somewhere between being fruity, tart, syrupy, light, and sweet. It was unlimited gumbo day, too (Friday). You get one pot with however many refills you want. If you even need a refill.

"I feel like I haven't stopped eating yet, but I'm still nowhere near being done," my friend says, spoon in hand and head over pot. My order was the crawfish étouffée with rice, collard greens, and yams. Sweet; tangy; spiced, hearty without being heavy - it was delicious.

Yum! (Photo by Carly Yansak)

And then there's Lola Stephens-Bell, who is clearly a woman who knows her way around many other places besides the kitchen. She feeds the sick and homeless, and runs programs to clean up the streets, and helps people visit loved ones they might have in jail. She makes helping easy for customers, too. There's a card on the table you can use to donate meals to the homeless. She also has an awesome accent, which I won't label because I'm not sure what it is.

Easy donation cards are always available (Photo by Carly Yansak)

At the end, we all ordered beignets to share. They were everything I had dreamed they'd be, considering I had never eaten one before: airy, light, sugary, and scrumptious. It was the conclusion to one of those meals where you all sit around afterwards, randomly exclaiming, "that was so good!" And I may not know what an exact, authentic, Mardi Gras meal may taste like since I've never been to New Orleans, but I do know the Nubian Queen certainly made me think I was there.

Lola's beignets (Photo by Carly Yansak)

Nubian Queen Lola's Cajun Soul Food Cafe

1815 Rosewood Ave. 474-5652

Breakfast: Monday - Friday 8am-10am

Lunch & Dinner: Monday,Tuesday 11am-6:45pm Wednesday - Friday, 11am-8:45pm Saturday - 5pm-8:45pm

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Nubian Queen Lola
Nubian Queen Lola's Wall o' Gifts
Nubian Queen Lola's Wall o' Gifts
A suggestion for your unique gift quest: This jailhouse art rocks.

Kate X Messer, Dec. 17, 2009

More by Carly Yansak
Roppolo's Pioneering Pizza on Wheels
Roppolo's Pioneering Pizza on Wheels
Talking local food truck history with Marc Roppolo

Sept. 6, 2013

Eat. Drink. Empower Dinner Benefits SafePlace
Eat. Drink. Empower Dinner Benefits SafePlace
Female chefs supporting their colleagues and women in the community

Aug. 19, 2013


Nubian Queen Lola, Nubian Queen Lola's Cajun Soul Food Cafe, Mardi Gras, homeless, crawfish etouffee, beignets, Gumbo Fridays, crawfish po'boys, Lola Stephens-Bell

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle