If you know any pirates, you might want to keep this article on the down low.


The Galley Café inside the recently-launched GulfQuest Maritime Museum is the world’s only restaurant with a ship tracking system at every table.

Which means that any of your peg-legged, eye-patch wearing friends could use said computerized screens to track their next target. Not only does the Galley Café show all the tankers, passenger ships, cargo vessels, tugs, barges, pleasure craft and other ships in the Gulf of Mexico, but it reports their speed, destination and GPS coordinates. About the only thing it fails to mention is whether or not any of the captains look like Johnny Depp.

What’s even more surprising about this little lunch-time café on the Port of Mobile is that the food, unlike so many museum cafes, is actually good. Really good.

Locals, who have already “been there, done that” at the museum that opened last September, go just to eat. And not because it’s the only restaurant on Mobile’s downtown waterfront. Helmed by Marshall Barstow, owner of the wildly popular Mama’s On Dauphin Street, The Galley Café dishes up hearty helpings of gumbo, pan-seared crab cakes topped with remoulade, bacon and fried green tomato sandwiches, shrimp and grits and all stripes of blackened seafood.

Besides being an excellent place to “put some South in yo’ Mouth,” as a popular slogan goes, but it also provides fun for mariners of all ages. The ship tracking screens are one of 90 interactive exhibits at this stunning $62 million museum that, from downtown, looks like a life-size container ship. It’s even called the SS McLean, after Mobile native Malcom McLean who revolutionized the shipping industry with “containerization.”

While learning the history, culture and commerce of the Gulf of Mexico, visitors can do everything from remotely navigate tug boats to tie a bow line knot to open valves in a cramped Confederate submarine.

The Galley, with indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of grog (but thankfully no scurvy bilge rats), is open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday.

Leave the pirates at home. Aargh!