Smokey Mo’s – Austin, TX

On a recent trip to Austin, Texas, we rediscovered a BBQ joint that we first tried in Conroe: Smokey Mo’s. While I may have been enjoying them for a while and somehow never managed to blog about them, they are still producing very appetising and satisfying meals in multiple locations around Texas.

The run of side dishes is pretty standard, and everything is complimentary to BBQ meats, of course. Fries, potato salad, beans, fried okra, corn on the cob, right down to the self-serve bread, onions, pickles and jalapenos.

Trust me, I helped myself to the pickles.


Two trays of pickles, just like this!


My partner helped himself to not one, but two chop sandwiches. The chop is loaded with sauce and chopped bits and pieces of meat. It’s mostly beef with the occasional turkey or sausage bits mixed in.


Chop Sandwich before any fixin’s were added.


The three meat plate is an indulgent sampler of meats and sides. There’s plenty to choose from, too. I picked the turkey-sausage-sliced brisket combination with a double side of slaw. The second slaw was really for Christopher, but it sure makes the plate look as full as my belly got after eating all this.


Three meat combo plate with two sides.


It’s always pleasant to find a bit of the familiar when travelling that’s not your run of the mill fast food. Visiting Smokey Mo’s was definitely a fit of comfort food in a weekend full of exploration.


— Ann Cathey


Cruise Cuisine – the Lido Collection

No matter what sort of cruise you are on, some things are included in the price package – like food. While some of the fancier establishments come with an upcharge, like Fahrenheit 555 on the Carnival Breeze, many are part of the experience.

The Carnival Breeze offers a lot of food, and we tried out some of the offerings on board during our sea days.


The Captain’s Pasta Bar

This lovely lunch option is hosted in the Cucina del Capitano. You are given a printed from upon which you mark your choices of pasta, sauce, meats, and vegetables. What comes back to you is nothing short of delicious.


The Build Your Own Pasta Bowl from Cucina del Capitano. Chicken, shrimp, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, bowtie pasta and Alfredo sauce topped with grated Parmesan.


Guy’s Burger Joint

That’s right – Guy Fieri has a burger joint on several of the Carnival line ships. Not only was the staff great about leaving the buns off, the condiments bar had bacon and sautéed mushrooms in addition to lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions, mayo mustard, ketchup, chipotle mayo, and a list of hot sauces and salsas.


Two patties with cheese, chipotle mayo, fries and ketchup.


Two patties with cheese sautéed mushroom, bacon, pickles, mayo and fries.


Mongolian Wok

Step right up and pick your veggies and noodles, putting however much you like in a bowl. give it to the chef who will cook it up in a wok for you, adding your meat or meats of choice, and your choice of mild, medium or hot sauce. What he hands back to you is a steaming bowl of customized stir-fry that made our day.


noodles, zucchini, yellow squash, bamboo shoots, baby corn, mushrooms, chicken, and Szechuan sauce (hot).


Glass noodles, green peas, green beans, baby corn, mushrooms, zucchini, bean sprouts, chicken with black bean sauce (mild).


Fat Jimmy’s C-side BBQ

While not BBQ in the Texas sense, this was some wholesome chow served grilled or chilled as tradition calls for.


Pulled pork on toasted bun, roasted eggplant and sweet potato, baked beans, habanero aioli, coleslaw, and hidden in the back is some grilled sausage.


Coleslaw, Italian sausage (mild), Kielbasa (medium), pulled pork, and roasted eggplant and sweet potato. Forgot the mustard…


We also breakfasted at the BlueIguana Cantina, nibbled a bit of Pirate Pizza, took in all day meals in the Lido Marketplace, and partook of the Seaday Brunches in the Blush dining salon. Some meals were decidedly better than others, but very little let us down.

–Ann Cathey

The Best BBQ in Galveston

Queens Bar-B-Que

Queens has the best barbeque I’ve found on Galveston Island.  I’m not quite the foodie that Ann Cathey is, but I’ve always been a picky eater, and I’ve always enjoyed food.  My partner-in-crime, Laura, introduced me to Queens not too long after we moved to Galveston, and it was love at first bite.



Queens has the best French Dip I’ve had to date, and they serve it on a baked potato as well as on bread.  The sandwich consists of soft bread, roast beef and cheddar cheese. The sandwich comes with au jus and a pickle, and due to the sFrench Dipize, that’s all it needs, because you can make two meals out of the sandwich.  The baked potato comes with butter, cheese, roast beef, and au jus.  Once again, this can easily be made into two meals.



Queens is best known for its Cliffhanger, a smoked turkey sandwich with melted cheddar and jalapeno cheese, chives, and ranch dressing on a large bun. The best way to get it is with a jalapeno cheddar bun, and Laura gets a side of barbecue sauce to dip it in.


We have been to Queens several times now and have tried different things as they appeal.  I finally got brave enough to try the Cliffhanger, and it was as amazing as everyone said it was.  I’ve also had the brisket chili on a baked potato, which you will not find on the menu, but the staff is more than willing to accommodate such oddball requests, provided we don’t abuse them.

The service has been excellent whenever we’ve gone in, and the place is always clean.  The prices are typical for Galveston, and not bad for a sit-down hole-in-the-wall.  The Cliffhanger is $7.20, the French Dip is $9.20, and baked potatoes start out at $5.  The only complaint I’ve ever had about Queens is that they don’t deliver.

On the 1-5 scale, Queens Bar-B-Que gets:
Cleanliness – 4.5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 4
Overall experience – 4.7

Queens Bar-B-Que
3428 Avenue S
Galveston, TX 77550

— Erin McGowan


EDIT: Here are a few more photos from Ann Cathey’s recent visit to Queen’s BBQ.

The atmosphere is Texas kitsch.

The atmosphere is Texas kitsch.


The massive stuffed baked potato.


A three meat plate – ribs, brisket, and sausage – with double mac-n-cheese.

The ribs are large and meaty. Messy, too.

The ribs are large and meaty. Messy, too.


Christopher managing to keep the sauce out of his facial hair.

Bill Miller BBQ – Austin, Texas

Bill Miller’s BBQ in Austin looks like a nice place. The decor is Texas kitch – wood paneling, cow hides, and Texas shaped brands. Antlers, taxidermied critters, plow shares, and other bits of farm history are tastefully arrayed. Sadly, the main dining area has echoes. Conversation is difficult at best when the place is crowded. It’s difficult not to over hear conversations at other tables when there are fewer patrons.

The bathrooms are clean and tidy. The floors and tables are kept clean. That was a definite high point. I cannot abide nasty bathrooms or sticky tables.

When placing your order, you get to talk to a person over a counter while staring up at an uncomfortable angle to make sure you get it right. Our cashier had a sweet disposition and smile, but apparently no real brains or common sense. I applaud Mr. Miller for giving her a job and a chance.

We ordered, checked in at a table and took a look at what we’d paid for. This is why we try new places, right?

The sweet tea was mildly sweet, unlike the usual Southern Style sweet tea found in so many places. It was fresh and had a pleasant flavor.

I’d asked for lean brisket. I got juicy, tender, fat riddled meat smothered in a disguising sauce. The lovely smoked turkey right next to it was also swimming. The sauce itself wasn’t bad, but it was very strongly tomato flavored, thin, vinegary, sort of a Carolina style that separated solids form vinegar as it cooled on the plate. Frankly, I prefer to be able to taste my meat, and not be given a heart attack from consuming it. One of my table partners thriftily finished it for me.


To accompany the entree, a bar of sorts was set up offering pickles, onions and hot peppers. This seems typical, but the items were hard to reach as the bar was small and cramped.

The baked potatoes are more of a medium size than a large size. Today’s potato was not quite done all the way through, and we had to ask for the fixings. I don’t think they intended it that way, but our girl at the counter appeared to have been a bit sheltered in her youth. She had to be asked twice, “What comes on your spuds?” She didn’t know what a spud was.

If you like black pepper, this is your place. It’s in almost everything – the coleslaw, the meat rubs, the potato salad. The pepper rub on the turkey almost overpowers the smokey flavor, though the sauce tempers the pepper a bit.

The pinto beans were thankfully very mild. They were tender with a beefy flavor. There was no evidence of black pepper or any other kind of hot spicing. I really enjoyed them – enough to eat my own and another person’s helping.

The hash browns were just heavenly. A little soft, a little crunchy — and the white onion was in large, removable slices. The flavor combinations were quite tasty. There was no pepper apparent in my helping, nor was there a large amount of salt. These hash browns easily pair up with eggs for breakfast tacos, as a side for BBQ, or just on a plate by themselves. Since Bill Miller’s offers breakfast on weekends until noon, there’s always the pleasure of starting your day with these hash browns.

Sadly, not all the customers we encountered that day were enlightened by their dining experience. Our Chaplain, a Caucasian Hindu mind you, and who had the issue with the baked potato earlier, was verbally accosted while waiting for the rest of us to clear our checks. He was sitting on a bench outside when he heard, “Look! It’s a fucking Muslim!” coming from a 10 or 12 year old boy who was pointing directly at him. The boy’s parents didn’t have the grace to be embarrassed, much less apologize.

If this is the sort of people who patronize this location, I won’t be going back. The rude even outweighs the hash browns.

Sorry, Bill.


–Ann Cathey