Hub City Diner
1412 S College Road
Lafayette, LA 70503
February 8, 2013
People in Lafayette love to eat. They have their pick between upscale, boutique, roadhouse, quirky, and a (blessedly) few chain restaurants. Then there are establishments where you’re greeted with a statue of a pelican doing its best Elvis impersonation and a huge Rockola Jukebox chock full of the hit parade from the 1950s. Welcome to the Hub City Diner.
You're barraged by a riot of colors that were oh so fresh in the 1950s and now have a decidedly and proudly retro appeal. Vinyl and Formica rule.
Booths with shiny sparkly red and beige vinyl banquettes and gray Formica tabletops line the wall, are matched with smaller aqua and black banquettes against a center partition. In snappy contrast, aqua steel tube chairs and Formica tabletops fill the center, all atop the shiny black and white tile floor. Cart the whole room into the Smithsonian and you’d have a defining period piece.
The food is All-American with enough Cajun twists to remind you that you’re in southwest Louisiana. It’s tasty, inexpensive, and served with a smile. Families and couples wander in as one of the Mardi Gras parades ends a few streets away. (Pink flamingos, which flourished on suburban lawns in the 50s, are a familiar sight during Mardi Gras but are probably regular fixtures at the Hub City Diner.)
Since we’re headed to The Blue Moon Saloon for a night of dancing to Horace Trahan and the Ossun Express, I load up on fried catfish served on shrimp étoufée and a bed of rice –that’ll keep me going for a few hours.
Next time I’m in Lafayette, I’m headed here for breakfast. I’m a sucker for home made biscuits, which get raves from the clientele.
Oh, then there’s the dancing part. As we’re finishing dinner, in walks the former owner, a broad Panama hat on his head and his silver haired wife, in a sparkly black and white top and black skirt, on his arm. He begins reeling off stories to anyone who’ll listen, including a boastful comment about how the hotel they’d just come from opened the dance floor for them to have a twirl.
My dining companion gives me a look. A Patsy Cline ballad drops into the Rockola play slot. By the time Patsy’s finished, our dancing style is getting applause from the former owner’s wife and occupants of the table next to it. Not to be outdone, Mr. Former Owner takes his wife for a turn, more applause. If there were a vote, we’d have won on style and connection. Just sayin’.
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.