A surprising (and delightful) recommendation: The Galley museum cafe
When you’re visiting a new destination, there’s a trick to discovering the best things to do while you’re there. Whether you’re a traveling savant or an occasional weekend getaway kind of person, mastering the art of “new city discovery” is a must. Figuring out the best places to go in a city can best be conquered in one of two ways (besides obsessively perusing VisitSouth.com, of course). The first way is to hit up a local restaurant and sit at the bar. Bartenders are usually locals who have their hand on the pulse of what’s going on in their respective city. They always have great recommendations for new attractions, nightlife, where to find live music, and they make you a cocktail while they’re talking you up, so that’s a plus.
The second way to discover the vibe of a city is to visit a local museum. The curators and employees are in the hospitality industry, so they’re always kind and ready to chat you up; plus, since it’s literally their job to know the history of the destination, they’re usually filled with a love for their city that they feel compelled to share.
So now that I’ve let the proverbial cat out of the bag, let’s talk about where you should go in Mobile, Alabama. I decided to visit one of my favorite local watering holes to get the scoop on what’s going on in the Port City. There’s an up-and-coming restaurant scene and from weekend to weekend it seems like there are bigger names coming to provide live music. I sat and chatted up the bartender to find out what kind of unique spots I could try. “Have you been to the Galley at GulfQuest, yet?” he pondered? “Like the museum?”, I responded cynically. “I’m really looking for food suggestions.” I explained.
“Yeah, you definitely need to have lunch there,” he responded. A recommendation for museum food? That’s not something you get often, but I put that tidbit in my back pocket and enjoyed the rest of my Mobile Mule.
Now, remember when I said museum people are good go-tos for inside information? Well, ironically, I was planning on spending some time at GulfQuest that weekend anyway. I outline my experience here, but turns out that (as I suspected), the staff members there are awesome and, when they also recommended I try their lunch, I knew it was time for a taste test (the only kind of test I like).
When lunchtime approached, I headed down to the Galley, which is the only restaurant situated on the Mobile River. Waterfront view? Don’t mind if I do…
I decided to try the club, sweet potato fries (sugar or no sugar, they asked … ummmm, I never turn down sugar). A confessed seafood snob, I knew the real test would be in the blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich and the shrimp po boy. Sure, throw in a side of regular fries and cheese grits, too. (Yes, I did order all of this. Don’t judge. I do it for you …it’s taking one for the team, really.) I had to stop there since I can only eat so much, but the robust menu just keeps on going with options like chicken salad, a fried green tomato BLT, gumbo, burgers, and options for the little ones, too!
While I waited for a meal, I sipped sweet tea on the patio overlooking the Mobile River watching the tugs, barges, and push boats go by. The light from the sun danced on the water, while a slight breeze blew, and that peaceful, serene feeling washed over me. Not a care in the world and food headed my way – my favorite combination of feelings.
Everyone else: 0
Once my feast meal arrived, the aroma alerted me that the bartender and museum staff had not led me wrong. The gigantic club sandwich (pictured at left) was stacked beautifully with smoky meats, melty cheese, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, and the best part of anything, bacon. Too big not to share, this sandwich is perfection.
The size of the po’ boy was impressive, as well. Crispy, fried shrimp piled high just the way they were intended to be. The sweet potato waffle fries were a perfect combination of sweet and salty. Plus I got regular fries, too, and … well, you know the kind of fries you get at the fair? The kind that are perfectly crisp on the outside, but have the fluffy potato center that begs to be drenched in ketchup and devoured as if you’ll never see another fry so perfect again? That’s exactly what GulfQuest’s fries are. Sheer perfection. Added to of all of that yummy, starchy goodness, are the creamy cheese grits that any Southern mama would approve.
Now, let’s talk Mahi Mahi. Growing up near the Gulf of Mexico makes everyone a seafood critic. But even the choosiest of coastal residents will agree with me after one bite of the beautifully blackened Mahi nestled on a fresh, sweet bun. They pile it high with what I can only assume is coleslaw made by the angels because it is glorious in its pineapple goodness.
So, is the Galley museum cafe at Gulfquest one of the best new lunch spots in Mobile? I can’t say because my mouth is so full of the gargantuan feast I ordered, but know that I am vigorously nodding my head yes.
Want to hear more about visiting GulfQuest? Click here, or head over to GulfQuest.org for hours and admission info! For more yummy dining options to explore beyond the Galley museum cafe, check out Mobile’s LoDa district.
Museum and shrimp salad photos courtesy of GulfQuest