Kenner, LA – Jukebox Cajun Diner (Review)

(From the archives) Ever since the demise of the Humming Bird diner, I continually search for a 24/7 diner in N’awlins I can call “home,” at 3AM. There really doesn’t seem to be an apt replacement, so I tend to “spread the wealth” around, and visit several different places, depending on 1) my location at the time the urge strikes me, and 2) an estimate of what my own fatigue level will be when having to make the return trip. If I’m wide awake and wired, it’s usually the Airline Motors Diner in La Place (you saw it in “Monster’s Ball,” with Billy Bob Thorton and Halle Berry); if I’m in the mood for booze soaking grease, it’s the bacon-ham-sausage-egg-cheese poboy at Webster’s in Metairie; but more often than not, I’m happy to pop in the Jukebox Cajun Diner in Kenner.

It’s an Al Copeland (founder of Popeye’s Chicken)  project, and tho I am loathe to patronize any of his other establishments, there’s not much he could do to screw up 2 over easy with rye toast and bacon.

Fabulously furnished in faux fifties fixtures (nice alliteration, eh?), the Jukebox dishes out the standard fare with piety: eggs, omelets, cakes and waffles, biscuits and gravy.

More than adequate cheese fries, onion rings, and chili lead off the starter portion of conventional midday and evening entrees, including burgers, sandwiches, blackened chicken poboys, and chili dogs. Bite-size burgers, an homage to Tastee treats, go for $2.75 a half-dozen, no shucking required.

Plate dinner specials are available daily, as well as a half a dozen regular offerings: fried or blackened catfish platter, fried shrimp, chicken prepared to your licking, an open face hot roast beef, complimented with your choice of conventional sides like green beans, corn, or mashed taters.

Although there are plenty of places around to get good fried catfish, I like the Jukebox Diner’s – maybe they throw a little of Al’s secret seasonings in the batter, not sure. At $6.45, it’s a bargain.

While a seat is usually available, the 4th Friday of each month draws the classic car crowd, and if you’re a fan of diner food or dressed-out cars, get there early in the evening, or check it out from home on “Dine-O-Cam.”

Like most places of this ilk, staff turnover appears fairly high, but I’m delighted it doesn’t appear to affect the food or the service, unusual in the industry.

(From our archives) As with most N’awlins establishments, smoking is allowed everywhere. Forewarned is forearmed.

I’ve been told one of Al’s great schemes is to see franchised Jukebox Diner’s dot the land, though as far as I know, the location in Kenner is the only one. It’s within spitting distance of the airport, and thus provides a good place to sit if you’re waiting for guests to arrive on a plane, or you’ve headed out early for a drop off, only to find I-10 traffic manageable for the first time in your life.

The Jukebox Cajun Diner is at 2560 Williams Boulevard, Kenner.

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