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LOLA'S: A LOUISIANA KITCHEN

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Downtown Las Vegas

241 W. Charleston Ave. #101

Las Vegas, NV 89102

702-227-5652

website

$10-$30

Mon-Thu 11am-9pm

Fri 11am-10pm

Sat 12pm-9pm

New Orleans

A

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

Fantastic traditional New Orleans and Louisiana style cuisine with lots of Cajun and Creole influences all served in homey, authentic surroundings.

Where is it?

On Charleston Avenue, within walking distance of the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North.

What kind of food is served?

Everything from crawfish to po boys plus favorites like gulf shrimp, jambalaya, gumbo, and more.

What is the atmosphere like?

Small and intimate with a warm feeling and lots of New Orleans accoutrement.

How is the service?

Fast, friendly, and efficient.

What are the prices like?

Very inexpensive - a full meal can be had here for well under $20.

What else do I need to know?

The food is so good you might be tempted to spend a lot more than $20.

What's the bottom line?

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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FULL REVIEW

I have a special place in my heart for Louisiana cuisine. My best friend adopted New Orleans as her own and took me on many a culinary adventure there, from the gourmet level Commander's Palace to the hole-in-the-wall eateries that serve traditional Cajun and Creole dishes. Given the choice between a burger and a po boy or a bowl of soup or a bowl of gumbo, I'll inevitably choose the latter of both of those equations.

The problem is finding traditional Louisiana cooking. Most natives will scoff at the idea that you can get the "real" stuff without getting on a plane and flying to New Orleans. Most of those natives have probably never been to Lola's in Las Vegas.

Chef Lola Elizabeth Pokorny was born in New Orleans and raised in Louisiana in a family of chefs and restaurateurs so her bona fides are irreproachable. After relocating to Las Vegas in the 1990s, Pokorny worked as a chef and caterer for years until finally opening this small, homey eatery on Charleston Avenue, about halfway between The Strip and Downtown.

If the Nevada desert and Sin City skyline weren't right outside, you'd almost be willing to believe you had stumbled through a time portal into a French Quarter pub once you walk through the doors. New Orleans artwork, Mardi Gras accessories, and fan memorabilia of the beloved Saints (the football team, not the religious one) are everywhere but it's done in an authentic, homespun way instead of feeling like a tacky theme restaurant.

Let's get to the food. Crab cakes, pan fried in lemon-garlic aioli; shrimp salad using imported gulf shrimp; charbroiled oysters with garlic, lemon, and cheese; Cajun red beans and rice with Andouille sausage; crawfish; chicken and sausage jambalaya; bronzed catfish and grits; BBQ shrimp with white rice and bread to sop up the juices. If this hasn't driven you insane with hunger yet, you haven't eaten enough New Orleans cooking.

Then there's the po boys - fried oyster; fried or blackened catfish, chicken, or shrimp; sizzled ham; and roast beef debris. Now here's the deal: natives will tell you that a po boy is not a "real" po boy unless it is served on bread from the Leidenheimer bakery in New Orleans. At Lola's they fly the bread in to Las Vegas and boy is it ever worth whatever they pay to do it. Light and flaky, with just enough crunch in the crust to make it authentic, it is a taste worth going out of your way for.

I tried the roast beef debris, served hot on that Leidenheimer roll and dressed with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a traditional gravy that was out of this world. If you go to one of those chain sub shops in Vegas instead of coming here for a sandwich, I will find you.

I also sampled the jambalaya and my only regret was that I didn't order a full-sized portion of it. It was packed with chicken and sausage and had a definite kick to it but not to the point where you needed a bucket of water to dunk your head in after taking a bite. Perfect.

I finished things off with traditional bread pudding smothered in a rum praline sauce. I didn't want it to end.

Prices are on the low end of the moderate scale. Starters, burgers, and po boys are mostly under $10 and the bulk of the entrees are under $20.

If you want authentic New Orleans style cooking, you really should go to New Orleans. But if you can't make it there you can get the full experience here at Lola's.

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